Born in colonial India in the foothills of the Himalayas but sent to boarding school in England, Lawrence Durrell hated the buttoned-up lifestyle of the north. When his father died he saw an opportunity to escape.
Somehow, by some incredible art of persuasion, he convinced his mother to pack up their entire family—four children, of whom he was the eldest—and move them all to the Greek island of Corfu.
They lived a crazy island life with eccentric locals and writers dropping by—people like Freya Stark and Henry Miller—and during all those years Durrell plugged away in a little stone house on the side of a mountain and taught himself to write.
Prospero’s Cell is the story of those years.
When you’ve finished this, read Reflections on a Marine Venus and Bitter Lemons, Durrell’s other island books.
And then read everything else he’s written. Everything.
Durrell wrote about the spirit of place, and how everyone has a personal landscape, a landscape that resonates with them on some deep tuning fork level. That’s where your thoughts are most lucid, and for a writer, it’s where you do your best work.
Reading these three books inspired me to drop everything in 2011 and move to the Mediterranean, to a country I'd never been to.
For several years I led a secluded life in small villages on the island of Malta.
It was my attempt to bring Lawrence Durrell’s vision to reality in my life. This story is told in my next book.
It didn't go the way I expected, or the way I had hoped. But that's the curious thing about an island. It can isolate you, and turn you into something else.
Prospero's Cell is Lawrence Durrell's small masterpiece. It purports to be a notebook from his days living in Corfu with his first wife, Nancy, though it was crafted years later in wartime Egypt. The photo on the cover of Ian MacNiven's biography shows the young writer on Corfiot rocks.
I can't improve on what Freya Stark admired in Prospero's Cell: 'There is evoked what is rarely transmitted in any generation and almost never in our own -- an atmosphere of happiness as radiant and all-embracing as the Ionian air. It is not described, but grown inevitably out of the "little eternities" of the island life and the untroubled charm of characters detached from any fictional demand for drama. Corfu is the island. An unclouded summer season was spent there before World War II, and the episode is lifted by the brilliant craftsmanship into the realm of art.'
The glory is in the lyrical detail, where observations hover between a list in a notebook and poetry: "The bowl of wild roses. The English knives and forks. Greek cigarettes. The battered and sea-stained notebook in which I rough out my poems. The rope and oar lying under the tree. The spilth of the olive press which will be gathered for fuel. The pile of rough stone for the building of a garden wall. A bucket and an axe. The peasant crossing the orchard in her white headdress. the restless cough of the goat in the barn. All these take shape and substance round this little yellow cone of flame in which N. Is cutting the cheese and washing the grapes. A single candle burning upon a table between our happy selves."
Koyun sonunda sagdaki beyaz ev, İngiliz yazar Lawrence Durrell'in 1930 larda Kalami de yaşadığı ev. Yazar, 'Prospero's Cell' adlı kitabında, İngiltere den, Korfu ya gelişini ve buradaki hayatını anlatıyor ....