The International Lawrence Durrell Society, dedicated to promote the work of the British author Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990), invites proposals for papers to be presented at a May 2020 conference in Toulouse, France.
From his early years as a writer, Durrell steeped himself in the works and ideas of Plato, Virgil, Ovid and other classical writers. He was equally interested in the worlds of the mystics as reflected in the works of Plotinus and the Kabbala, as well as the cultures of the ancient Egyptians and Copts. Not surprisingly, having settled in 1957 in the south of France where he lived until his death, Durrell’s interests came to include the ideas of the Gnostics and the Cathars and their alleged influence on the Order of the Knights Templar.
As Durrell developed his ideas from their foundations in the thinking of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans whose influence on his tetralogy, The Alexandria Quartet, is evident, so the ideas of Buddhism and the Gnostics permeate his later novel sequence, The Avignon Quintet.
Durrell’s works—travel books, fiction and poetry—reflect the ideas of the mystics and of all those prepared to challenge conventional thinking through the heresies that have permeated the Western world from its earliest recorded writings.
The various forms of Western and Eastern mysticism that underlie Durrell’s fiction and poetry question the pre-established, orthodox patterns of thought and undermine the oneness of truth, offering readers a heterotopia from which to re-examine the relationships between history and the art of writing.
Convening at the Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, a city whose culture reflects many of the themes and ideas found in Durrell’s writings, the Durrell Society seeks to promote discussion of twentieth-century writers who share Durrell’s ideas. Although papers on any aspect of Durrell’s writing are welcome, the conference organizers particularly encourage consideration of writers contemporary to Durrell including novelists, philosophers and thinkers with whom Durrell might have been sympathetic.
Topics for papers might include, but are not limited to the following:
- The impact of the ideas of Deleuze and Guattari on critical views of Durrell;
- The mystery of the ‘unknown’ as expounded by Yves Bonnefoy and as applied to the poetry of Durrell;
- The relationship of Durrell to the wider canon of twentieth-century novelists and poets, such as D. H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad, E. M. Forster, Robert Graves, David Gascoyne, etc.;
- Influences on fiction and criticism of Foucault’s concept of heterotopia.
Early response deadline for submissions is 6th January 2020, sent to Prof. Isabelle Keller-Privat. (Please indicate in this case if you need an official acceptance letter for administrative purposes).
Extended deadline for submissions is 2nd March 2020, submitted below.
Registration will open by 10th February 2020. A direct link will be given to participants for online registration.
Proposals should include: 1) name and affiliation; 2) a brief bio (60 words max); 3) the proposal (maximum of 600-800 words); and 4) a brief bibliography.
Submit Proposals on the website below: