From the Elephant's Back: Collected Essays & Travel Writings
"...the proverb says that whoever sees the world from the back of an elephant learns the
secrets of the jungle and becomes a seer. I had to be content to become a poet."
Best known for his novels and travel writing, Lawrence Durrell defied easy classification
within twentieth-century Modernism. His anti-authoritarian tendencies put him at odds
with many contemporaries – aesthetically and politically. However, thanks to a
compelling recontextualization by editor James Gifford, these thirty-eight previously
unpublished and out-of-print essays and letters reveal that Durrell's maturation as an
artist was rich, complex, and subtle. Durrell fans will treasure this selection of rare
nonfiction, while scholars of Durrell, Modernist literature, anti-authoritarian artists,
and the Personalist movement will also appreciate Gifford's fine editorial work.
"Gifford's scholarly command of the archives shows – especially his working intimacy with
the unpublished archived words of Durrell's editors, publishers, and collaborators. I
have no doubt that this collection will serve as a starting point for any number of new
critical ventures into the life and writing of Lawrence Durrell."
—Charles Sligh, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
"Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, From The Elephant's Back is
an outstanding collection of masterfully crafted essays organized into four major
sections: Personal Positions; Ideas About Literature; Eternal Contemporaries; and
Spirit of Place: Travel Writings. Very highly recommended for academic library
collections, From The Elephant's Back will prove to be engaging, memorable,
thought-provoking reading, and ultimately rewarding."
—Midwest Book Review
"the interest of this volume does not only lie in the immeasurable wealth of Durrellian
archives that are brought to the reader's knowledge: it also sketches out the fascinating
portrait of an artist engaged in the creative production of his generation.... The final
part devoted to travel writing will similarly edify and stimulate both Durrell's readers
and all those who seek to understand the refinements of the genre."
—Isabelle Keller-Privat, Études britanniques contemporaines