Dean of Liberal Arts has article published
An article written by Dr. Donald Kaczvinsky, dean of Louisiana Tech’s College of Liberal Arts, has been published in “Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal.” Kaczvinsky’s “From Alexandria with Love: Durrell and the Fiction of Espionage, or Durrell in Bondage” is one of the first to consider Durrell’s spy novel, “White Eagles Over Serbia,” and the political elements in Durrell’s four novels comprising the “Alexandria Quartet.” “Durrell’s ‘Alexandria Quartet,’ which came out in 1957-60, has generally been understood as an experimental, late modernist work and very different from the popular fiction of his day,” said Kaczvinsky, the George E. Pankey Eminent Scholar in English. “These years are also a pivotal moment in the history of the British Empire. After the Suez Crisis, the empire was clearly in decline and the spy novel, which records that decline, was the most popular form of fiction.” Kaczvinsky also compares Durrell’s approach to the spy novel with Ian Fleming’s design in the James Bond series. “When I was doing research in the British Library, I realized that, from what I could tell from the manuscripts and drafts of the novel, the earliest passages of the Quartet revolved around the main character’s work as a spy. That is, Durrell understood his novel from the beginning as a novel of espionage,” he said. “In fact, Durrell’s Quartet and Fleming’s ‘From Russia With Love ‘were both published in 1957, and this year was the turning point for both writers’ careers. That is when the article came together. Fleming and Durrell shared similar conservative political views, and both supported and worked for the British Empire. However their writing went, from this point on, in very different directions, and I wondered why.” Earlier this year, Kaczvinsky had his book, “Durrell and the City: Collected Essays on Place” published, and he said he has written and taught on the author for 25 years. “I have come to see Durrell’s work as not only artistically sophisticated but interesting as a record of the complexities and tensions that existed in the middle of the 20th century,” Kaczvinsky said. “He just happened to live and work some of the most important places — Cyprus during the Cypriot revolution and Alexandria Egypt during World War II, for example. So his novels and travel books become a means for understanding that world. He is also a superb stylist, with a poetic prose that is unique to English literature. “ Kaczvinsky said this year happens also to mark the centenary of Durrell’s birth, which is why many critics are reevaluating and reassessing his career.