Durrell's hostility and contempt for most things Egyptian appears in the Quartet. The Alexandria Quartet is littered with disturbing statements such as "the timorous soul of the Egyptians cries always for the whip."
Durrell's Alexandria Quartet has come under heavy fire for how the city of Alexandria was represented. Durrell was a foreigner, and one who didn't know or care to know the history of the city or its language.
"Narrative theory, when it has focused on narrative modes rather than textual analysis, has consistently derived narrativity from temporality. Durrell set out to fulfill a long-standing ambition to "destroy" conventional narrative time [with the Alexandria Quartet], relying on Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. Critics have invariably not taken Durrell's formal innovation seriously either on its own merits or for its insights about narrative."
The Quartet's sense of time has an additional function. "The Quartet has the extraordinary potential to bring into focus work by some of the most important thinkers of the 20th century, from fields as diverse as philosophy, literature, physics, psychoanalysis, literary criticism and, most important to this dissertation, narratology."
The Alexandria Quartet has always polarized critics. One critic asserts that "though [Durrell] could be called racist and colonialist," he also "portrayed individuals and institutions of the colonized cultures with sympathy and insight."
"Interpretations of these four novels based on race are both appropriate and illuminating, The Alexandria Quartet presents not a simple or single misreading of Egypt."
While some writers found it difficult to write in England from an artistic perspective, Durrell did not. He stated on writing in England, "No, I think it’s a most creative landscape. It’s a violently creative landscape."
Durrell was a short man. However, his personality was greater than his stature. He was a voluble, volatile personality, who talked fast and with enormous energy.
Durrell didn't write only fiction. He also wrote poems, plays, travel books, translations, critical essays, philosophical essays, and character sketches.
Durrell's early novels used death as a theme. Death is how Durrell pursued his interests in religion, art and love.