Spengler's morphology of culture in six novels of Lawrence Durrell



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A close reading of The Alexandria Quartet and Tunc and Nunquam reveals that Lawrence Durrell has utilized many of Spengler's ideas about culture. He dramatizes Spengler's conception of a culture as a spontaneous flowering rooted in its own landscape and as an expression of the human spirit in cultural forms such as religion, science and economics. The relationships between these forms create a morphological pattern that is prototypal for all cultures. In the late stages of a culture these forms become etiolated and sterile, and it is with these forms that Durrell is largely concerned. Also in the late stages, the individual feels his culture as an oppressive burden, and the protagonists in these novels must discover the real meaning of freedom within their culture. Although all the novels express Spenglerian determinism. Tunc and Nunquam emphasize the possibility of a phoenix-like rebirth of a culture out of the ashes of decline. The collective human wish is the determinant of a culture, and the quality of this wish is crucial to the growth and character of a new one.