Volver a Durrell

En mi adolescencia, Lawrence Durrell era uno de los escritores que leíamos con mayor pasión. El cuarteto de Alejandría nos cambió la vida a muchos, y en más de un caso fue fundamental para definir la vocación literaria.

Hoy, que se cumplen 23 años de su muerte, los invito a leer esta estupenda entrevista que The Paris Review publicó en el invierno de 1959-1960.

Lawrence Durrell, The Art of Fiction No. 23
Interviewed by Gene Andrewski & Julian Mitchell

The interview took place at Durrell’s home in the Midi. It is a peasant cottage with four rooms to which he has added a bathroom and a lavatory. He writes in a room without windows, with notices of his work in foreign languages he cannot understand pinned to the bookcase. The sitting room, where the interview was held, has a large fireplace and a French window leading onto a terrace constructed by Durrell himself. From the terrace one has a view of the small valley at the end of which he lives. It is a bare rocky district, full of twisted olive trees destroyed in a blight a few years back.

Lawrence Durrell is a short man, but in no sense a small one. Dressed in jeans, a tartan shirt, a navy-blue pea jacket, he looks like a minor trade-union official who has successfully absconded with the funds. He is a voluble, volatile personality, who talks fast and with enormous energy. He is a gift for an interviewer, turning quite stupid questions into apparently intelligent ones by assuming that the interviewer meant something else. Though he was rather distrustful of the tape recorder, he acquiesced in its use. He smokes heavily, Gauloises bleues. When at rest he looks like Laurence Olivier; at other times his face has all the ferocity of a professional wrestler’s.

The interview was recorded on April 23, 1959, the birthday of William Shakespeare and Scobie of Durrell’s Quartet. Beginning after lunch and continuing that evening, it commenced with Durrell reviewing his early life, his schooling at Canterbury, and his failure to enter Cambridge.


What did you do after Cambridge turned you down?


Well, for a time I had a small allowance. I lived in London. I played the piano in a nightclub—the “Blue Peter” in St. Martin’s Lane, of all places —until we were raided by the police. I worked as an estate agent in Leytonstone and had to collect rents, and was badly bitten by dogs. I tried everything, including the Jamaica police. I have been driven to writing by sheer ineptitude. I wanted to write, of course, always. I did a certain amount of stuff but I couldn’t get anything published —it was too bad. I think writers today learn so much more quickly. I mean, I could no more write as well at their age than fly.

(leer más en Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 23, Lawrence Durrell)