A Psychoanalytic Study of Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet : Exile and Return book cover
1st Edition

A Psychoanalytic Study of Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet
Exile and Return

ISBN 9780367584931
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
172 Pages

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Book Description

A Psychoanalytic Study of Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet: Exile and Return focuses on the dialogue created by literature and psychoanalysis in an individual’s quest to explore existential issues, such as a sense of belonging to a homeland and a recurring sense of the Uncanny (das unheimliche). Rony Alfandary explores Durrell’s attempt to recreate a sense of belonging to a homeland, which perhaps never existed but can be retraced and reinvented through writing.

This book studies some issues present in Durrell’s work: 

  •  the connection between biographical and fictional elements in the study of literature

  •  the influence of early Freudian theoretical themes upon the writer

  •  later influences including post-modern and hermeneutic theories

The life and work of Lawrence Durrell can serve as a prototype of a man’s quest for meaning, in a world caught in turmoil in the period between and during WW2. The author’s psychoanalytic exploration of the work and its relevance to human experience today, shows how the themes Durrell dealt with remain relevant. Alfandary highlights the ways in which his usage of several author narrative styles exemplifies the divergent and often contradictory nature of "Truth", emerging rather as multi-layered, multi-voiced and often torn sense of human subjectivity.

A Psychoanalytic Study of Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet: Exile and Return demonstrates Durrell’s strong influence by psychoanalytic thought and will appeal to both psychoanalytic and literary scholars.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Richard Pine; Lawrence Durrell-Milestones; Introduction – The Alexandria Quartet in contemporary context; Chapter One: Psychoanalysis, Writing and Exile; Chapter Two: Whose Voice is it anyway? Narratives and Structure; Chapter Three: Dreams and Dreaming; Chapter Four: The Topographic Return to the Mother-City; Chapter Five: The Secret Wound; Epilogue; Lawrence Durrell-Bibliography

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Rony Alfandary, Ph.D., is a clinical social worker, writer and photographer. Rony is a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and is in private practice as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist.


"Studies of the work of Lawrence Durrell abound in the application of literary theory. Seldom do we find a sectoral study which prioritises the writer over the theorist. It is therefore all the more valuable that Rony Alfandary has made a study of Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, employing his professional acumen as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist to unpack Durrell's writing in terms of the unconscious and the uncanny.

I am particularly interested to see the attention Alfandary pays to Freud's "Uncanny" - that much misunderstood concept of heimlich/unheimlich which, Alfandary shows us, is profoundly present in Durrell's life and art. What he has to say about Durrell's relation to the heimlich Indian background and the constant recurrence of the uncanny in his work is of great value to us all.

So too is what he tells us of the "secret wound" as elaborated by Julia Kristeva. I think it is cognate, but not identical, with what Durrell called the "primal wound" which caused "uprooting despair". It was associated for him with a sense of homelessness and a loss of integration, which gave him, almost from birth, a need to restore wholeness."-from the Foreword by Richard Pine, Durrell Library of Corfu

"Rony Alfandary has written a study of The Alexandria Quartet that insinuates itself into the very fiber of the work and, indeed, into Durrell’s internal psychic world, to give us anew a brilliant interpretation of this masterwork sixty years after its original appearance. Durrell’s ability to continue to engage readers of Alfandary’s caliber shows his continuing relevance."-Ian S. MacNiven, author of the authorized biography of Lawrence Durrell; Editor of The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80