"Quinx," as its title implies, is the fifth and final novel in a sequence that Lawrence Durrell has been building for the last 10 years, under the title "The Avignon Quintet." The 73-year-old major British novelist and poet has written 27 books, the best known of which comprise "The Alexandria Quartet," an ornate and stylish tetralogy first published between 1957 and 1960, and still widely read.
While the central characters of "The Avignon Quintet" persistently reappear--in "Monsieur" (1975), "Livia" (1979), "Constance" (1982), "Sebastian" (1984), and now "Quinx"--the five plots do not follow each other sequentially and may be read in any order. "Monsieur," for instance, turns out to have been "written by" a character who first shows up in the later novel "Livia." These fluctuating levels of fictional reality give Durrell's novels a playful concentric pattern instead of a straight chronological order.
"The books would be roped together like climbers on a rock face, but they would all be independent," as the writer Blanford explains in the second novel of the nonseries. "Quinx" is as good a place to start as any, particularly since Durrell places it schematically in the midst of the other four, as in the "quincunx" array on the five side of dice. The result, wherever we start or stop in our reading, is a prismatic, crystalline work that radiates rainbow perspectives on familiar events as they revolve before us.