Boasting Irish origins: and born in India in 1912, Lawrence Durrell was a product of the British Empire and of its more or less glorious decline. The Alexandria Quartet, his greatest (and only durable?) work of fiction, began to be published in 1957, by which time the world which it depicted had already been disassembled by enosis in Cyprus and by the fiasco of Suez.
Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt had no time, or place, for the polymorphous culture which Durrell had found in Alexandria. The 'wine–press of love' was purged byArab nationalism: Jews, Greeks and Francophone cosmopolitans ceased to rub shoulders with Copts and colonial administrators andmystagoguesand double agents of various stripes.What Durrell called 'apes