“My Word, What an Experience!” Form and Readership in The Alexandria Quartet
As far as I can tell – and I could only wish facts proved me wrong here – Umberto Eco and Lawrence Durrell never met each other. To assess whether they knew about each other is however a more slippery question. I do not find hints of the former in the catalogue of Durrell’s personal library, whose entries in fact demonstrate a more pronounced penchant for French works. On the other hand, even if Eco’s immense library cannot yet be consulted, it is not unreasonable to assume that some Durrell could feature among the thirty-five-thousand titles on the semiotician’s shelves. Be that as it may, reasons for this missed mutual acquaintance can be merely temporal: Eco started his academic career around the time the Alexandria Quartet was published; his own debut in fiction, Il Nome della Rosa,came in 1980. By then Durrell was an author of consolidated fame, a mature writer whoseinfluences were of course fully formed.