In this new selection from the poetry of Lawrence Durrell (the first for thirty years), Peter Porter has drawn on the full range of the published work, from A Private Country (1943) to Vega (1973), and has provided a long overdue revaluation of Durrell's poetic career. In his detailed and generous introduction, Porter makes the case for A Private Country as one of the most accomplished debut collections of the twentieth century, and traces Durrell's preoccupations and poetic personality within the wider scene. The selection of poems makes its own strong case for the continuing power and originality of this attractive, metropolitan and wholly individual body of work.
Peter Porter was born in Brisbane and has lived in England since the early 1950s. His Collected Poems appeared in 1983. Lawrence Durrell was born in 1912 in India, to an English-Irish family. He attended the Jesuit College at Darjeeling and St Edmund's School, Canterbury. His first collection of poems was followed by the three Island books, Prospero's Cell, Reflections on a Marine Venus, about Rhodes, and Bitter Lemon, his account of life in Cyprus. Durrell's wartime sojourn in Egypt led to his masterpiece, the Alexandria Quartet, completed in Southern France where he settled permanently in 1957. Caesar's Vast Ghost, his reflections on the history and culture of provence, including a late flowering of poems, appeared a few days before his death in Sommires in 1990.