The Alexandria Quartet (Alexandria Quartet #1-4)
Set amid the corrupt glamour and multiplying intrigues of Alexandria in the 1930s and '40s, these novels follow the shifting alliances - sexual, cultural, and political - of characters whose motives change dramatically from one book to the next: Darley, the adulterous Irish schoolmaster; Purs...more
Durrell was a master of atmosphere and voice, and if you can make it through "Justine", narrated by the story's centerpiece, the exiled Irish school teacher, Darley, you will be greatly rewarded. Darley speaks in long-winded (though often lovely) prose and is clearly self-absorbed and emotionally near-sighted. But it's fascin ...more
"I suppose...that if you wished somehow to incorporate all I am telling you into your own Justine manuscript now, that you would find yourself with a curious sort of book - the story would be told, so to speak, in layers...a series of novels with 'sliding panels'"
Balthazar, p. 338
A rhythmic, rolling book, without too much plot to speak of. However as a novel it works brilliantly as a sort of literary expose` about human relationships and love. If there is one thing you can take away from ...more
It was originally four novels: Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive and Clea and they have been combined into this work. I read this book about twenty years ago and I look at it from time to time just to read the exquisite style. I still love it. I think ...more
But finds that she has lost the knack.
Extenuated by excesses
She is unable, she confesses.
Nothing daunted Zeus, who wise is
Tries a dozen good disguises.
Eagle, ram, and bull and bear
Quickly answer Hera's prayer.
One knows a God should be prolix,
But ... think of all those different ******! "
The recent violence against Coptics in Egypt, claimed by many to be the worst the country has seen in at least 300 years, adds a further layer of resonance and relevance to this extraor ...more
My gratitude for M.J. Nicholls remains at the fore of this celebration. It wasn't he that steered me to this massive work. I am honestly unable to gather any of MJNs inferences in the direction of Durrell. It was more Nicholls' esprit, that laudable expansion on what ...more
Of course, I may change my mind in ten years. Let's just wait and see.
Here, Durrell takes the idea a step further. The first th ...more
I read "Justine" many years ago and have just read the whole "Quartet".
I've reviewed the individual works separately at the links below. I rated "Mountolive" five stars and the others four.
I rated "Mountolive" higher, because of the roundabout journey it took me on.
I've rated the "Quartet" as a whole five stars. My rationale is that the sum is greater than its parts (which could almost be one of its themes).
However, there is a good chance that I will some day increase the four star r ...more
Four volumes later the answer is YES. Although my understandings have evolved, these books ...more
I had thought about reading this since I was 20, when I had read what Henry Miller had to say about Durrell. Of course, I would not have understood, nor been able to read this at that age.
The volume has flaws, to be sure... it is not easy to read. There are artifices in the plot. The language is often bizarre... and deliberately artificial... a ...more
I don't think ...more
This is definitely an unparallel piece of art, full of philosophical reflections and beautifully written passages about love.
Yes, one day I found myself writing down with trembling fingers the four words (four letters! four face ...more
'But there are more than five sexes and only demotic Greek seems to distinguish among them. The sexual provender which lies to hand is staggering in its variety and profusion. You would never mistake it for a happy place. The symbolic lovers of the free Hellenic world are replaced here by something different, something subtly androgynous, inverted upon itself. The Orient cannot rejoice in the sweet anarchy of the body - for it has outstripped the body [...:] Alexandria w ...more
Going at it from multiple POVs. Multiple cameras in action.
Also, dissecting the inter-community, inter-cultural relationships at the time, in Alexandria.
Revealing the truth, if there's one:-), gradually, onion-style. In
that dismissal of the absolute, very post-modernist.
I took a break after "Justine." "Balthazar" seems easier this time
around, and certai ...more
Durrell jotted notes toward his "Alexandria novel" in the tower of the Ambron Villa, but began writing Justine, which he initially called his "Book of the Dead," in Cyprus in 1953. Soon after their arrival in Cyprus, Eve Cohen, Durrell's second wife, became dep ...more
I've re-read the Quartet three of four times since then, and every time it's a new Alexandria, a new story. Part of that is that I'm older, ...more
#1 Justine 4*
Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria villa faces demolition
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