BlurbMonsieur, published in 1974 and sub-titled The Prince of Darkness, is the first volume in Lawrence Durrell's The Avignon Quintet. As a group, the five novels narrate the lives of a group of Europeans prior to and after World War II. Monsieur begins the quincunx of novels with a metafictional narrative in five major sections, each with a competing narrator. The novel does not resolve which narrative is 'real' and which are 'fiction.'
The novel draws extensively on Gnosticism but was published prior to the English release of the Nag Hammadi library. Durrell is referred to in the English edition of the Nag Hammadi, but this is largely in relation to his The Alexandria Quartet. The Gnostic materials in Monsieur combine Serge Hutin's Les Gnostiques with contemporary newspaper reports of a Slovenian suicide cult. This has led to much scholarly and popular confusion over the sources for Durrell's Gnostic suicide cult, which is a plot throughout the rest of the Avignon Quintet.
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