This book has been taking me a hostage these couple of months. It's like when you're strongly attracted to someone but haven't realized it fully. I'dThis book has been taking me a hostage these couple of months. It's like when you're strongly attracted to someone but haven't realized it fully. I'd go reading other book just because I feel that it's too long a book to be monogamous to. An unconcious fear of relationship. But it was just not working. Reading other book I'd feel uncomfortable, I knew this fling was not exactly what I wanted to read, there's something off-key. Only when I went back to Alexandria that I realized what was wrong, realizing that this is the right book to read, that I couldn't read other book until this bond faltered. If this sounds too creepy, I swear the comments I wrote below for each part are completely bookish.
I don't want to continue reading before writing something about the 1st book, but it's so difficult to arrange my thought about it, despite having reading it twice.
Great writing, of course. Slippery like an eel. I dare anyone who can actually arrange the occurences linearly. It's just not possible. Titbit of facts and thought and feelings came in random without regards to time frame. Which one came first, after what, for how long, while what was happening. Just forget the effort to make sense of that.
Yet, somehow it's ok. I just need to still the tendency of making sense of their love history and just gather everything into a flower bouquet. When Balthazar came along I'll add some more and maybe by the time Clea is finished it would be so beautiful and complex there'll be no need to dissect and nag on each element.
Another thing is that it did require a bit of close reading and paying of attention in general. Sometimes even that was difficult, his writing could carry you away and suddenly you're miles away from the first thought, landing on a patch of desert.
Now I just want to continue reading but not fancying lugging it around on my travel next holiday. Would it be good to just carry it and nothing else, not even the e-thing? Or would it be the greatest folly to trap myself with no choice of reading material? Should I just butcher whichever part I've finished reading and spread it all over Turkey?
Balthazar managed to shatter the perfect snowflake shown on Justine by his Interlinear notes. Everything is not how it seemed once it's seen from different light. Some things which were conciously/unconciously hidden started to be revealed.
Do I like the story better now, knowing this dark lines scribbled by Balthazar? I think so. Maybe I'm more soldier of truth than of romanticism. It's more interesting with Balthazar's input anyhow. Everything is more complicated, substantial, it feels more like how the city Alexandria should be. There's only one point where I think Durrell went a bit too far (view spoiler)[when Narouz was on the point of coupling with the woman as substitute of Clea, turns out the narrator was the one disturbing them, which was also an important point on his reminiscent. Too much coincidence for me (hide spoiler)]
So this coming from Lawrence Durrell, the brother that Gerald Durrell mocked endlessly on My Family and Other Animals. He came out rather an ass there. But there's no denying that Lawrence is a master writer.
A completely different reading experience. Third person narration somehow influenced me to think that this is how everything really happened. This is the story that tells the truth. I've never really think a lot about story's structure, but another book I've read lately made me realize how important it is. How writer can use it to manipulate how a story perceived by reader.
Again, I can only say that Durrell is a master writer. It's a lot easier to read Mountolive since the story has gotten rid of Darley's slippery story telling. This is what I found masterful. I've always thought that Durrell's writing is slippery, of course this is his first book that I read, so I didn't know better. Turns out, it Darley's writing that is slippery. Can I say now, that Durrell's narration on Mountolive his real writing? Can't really say until I read more of his works, which I will definitely do.
On the story itself, it's rather disconcerting to be pulled out of the romantic story that Darley insisted is the story of Alexandria and being dumped into this political intrique. Great trick. I was wondering as I was reading how it would feel to people who read it as it's published. I read the 3 books back to back so I pretty much just follow it through as a long story. But for the people who needed to wait until the next book was published, it must have been a complete betrayal and surprise each time they picked up a new sequel. They had more time to digest and made up their mind about what the story is about. The first surprise of Balthazar's interlinear might still be a soft blow, but then having Mountolive dumped on them that showed a completely different take on what's happening? That's a rather nasty trick that Durrell has pulled on his reader. I changed my mind, maybe Lawrence Durrell was an ass as portrayed by Gerald Durrell.
You would have thought after reading the 3 first books I would understand Durrell's concept with all the changing of perspectives. Of course I wasn't. Third person's narrative on Mountolive was so strong that I really took it for granted as the voice of authority to the extent that I was dissapointed meeting Darley's voice again in Clea. As hindsight I might've judged his voice as flawed perspective, the duped, the naive and the innocent. Only a couple pages in did I realize that I've taken the wrong end of the stick, as they say. There's NOT only ONE truth. They're all right. This story, all stories, doesn't only have varied perspectives. It also has an unbelieveable mix of motivations. As example, Justine approaching Pursewarden was not only for political reason but also for the reasons Balthazar mentioned. Justine and Nesim, they are all of it. A very close couple. A marriage without love. A political liaison. Everything happen at the same time.
Anyway, why should anything happen just because one reason? I ate an ice cream because it was hot day, because it was an extremely lousy day, because my body needed some sugar rush, because I needed to pass by the store anyway. If an ice cream was eaten for all these reasons, imagine the complexity of what happened in Alexandria, the amount of people involved; then this quartet might actually just covered the tip of the iceberg.
Perhaps I was the type of reader Durrell would gleefully monitor while he was writing. I fell to all his traps. I pushed all the buttons he wanted me to push. I was a putty on his hand. Yet somehow I didn't resent that. The changes of narrator was perfect. Of course the first 2 parts need to be told by Darley, the 3rd part omniscient narration is a stroke of genius for the effect, then the last part, of course we'd need to get back to Darley. We need him to say, 'well, the story happened also the way I see it. Just because I was being naive and had limited vision didn't mean that it wasn't part of the story.' Wonderful.
Yet, story wise, I feel Clea was the weakest. Of course there wasn't as much going on anymore. It was tying up loose ends and I always being extra bitchy on the way writer tied them up. In this case Clea is borderline obnoxious. (view spoiler)[of course she would ended up with Darley... why not? they're the relatively white innocent parties in this murky book. I was especially annoyed that they'd be together again after the short separation, even if it's not in Alexandria. Or maybe it can't be in Alexandria. At the end Durrell can't resist having this love that is larger than life? (hide spoiler)] The saving grace is Pursewarden. I love him. I love reading his commonplace book. I could fall in love with him with just this summary from Justine, "for Pursewarden sex was the nearest thing to laughter - quite free of particularity, neither sacred nor profane."
In conclusion, this is a great book. I could've talked about it for hours and not finishing. There's just so many things inside. Love, sex, art, human relationship, war, too many to mention. It made me wishing to travel to Alexandria and Levant area in general. Not the right timing nowadays, of course, although Alexandria is still travel safe. I could imagine collective heart seizure my family would have. I was late reading this, yet it is the right timing for me to read it. It has the right resonance with the current me which I wouldn't feel a year ago. It has my full recommendation to read. I'd read it again, though it will lack the element of surprise from the whole acrobatic stunt that Durrell successfully pulled.
Four stars, it's not five only because I don't want to have such strong bond with any book now and Clea was getting rather common. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Lightweight reading, something to match an extremely lazy weekend or to snack on to ease craving during busy week. Nice anthology of book quotes, mostLightweight reading, something to match an extremely lazy weekend or to snack on to ease craving during busy week. Nice anthology of book quotes, most of them I haven't read anywhere and some of them absolutely hilarious.
My, was I ever so relieved for finishing. It's not that I can't take dark book, I've read some horribly dark books. It's just that it's relentlessly dMy, was I ever so relieved for finishing. It's not that I can't take dark book, I've read some horribly dark books. It's just that it's relentlessly depressingly horrible. It can extinguish person's faith on anything that is good in the world. If anything could go wrong, it'd go wrong for Tess, then proceed to worse and worst. I've known the plot before start reading and I think that's one of the thing that help me finish reading; because otherwise, being shocked again and again by one misery after another, I couldn't imagine anyone wanted to inflict this kind of reading for himself. The level of sadism done to Tess, Hardy couldn't even spare her a pair of boot, he had to take it away from Tess. I'm glad Hardy is not in charge of managing the universe.
Then the men. I hate Angel from the bottom of my heart. He reminded me of Prince Andrei from War and Peace; though my reaction to P. Andrei is significantly lower; I found P. Andrei annoyingly self-righteous. Reading about Angel made me wish for horrible death for him involving slow alive roasting and cannibalism. Hardy mentioned his name as a misnomer on account of his unability to have complete faith and become a clergy. For me his name is a sarcasm, a concious misleading trap; for he's the devil incarnate; not the type that knock on your front door dressed in silly costume; but the one sneaking through the back door dressed in suit. He's a walking danger for women. There is no love, compassion or even urge to try to understand what being human meant (human with all their weakness and vulnerability).
In a way I don't mind Alec so much. He's an ass, the kind one can find aplenty even now. He's so obviously an ass it's not difficult to pin point him and avoid him. I haven't quite figured out what the point about his short-lived conversion was and he could be really annoying and obviously has wrecked havoc on Tess' life, but I prefer to face 5 Alec than 1 Angel.
Still thinking about Tess herself, I'm sure I'll hear some interesting points from our book club discussion next Sunday. This is the only reason I held on and finished reading it. I've tried once before and gave up, now I can at least put it behind me. Two stars....more
Expectation, that sneaky bugger, remind me to throw it out of the house whenever I start reading a new book.
When I first found out about Isabelle EbeExpectation, that sneaky bugger, remind me to throw it out of the house whenever I start reading a new book.
When I first found out about Isabelle Eberhardt I thought she must've been the coolest woman ever. She explored the Algerian desert in man's clothes. She did it at the time before youth hostel, travel agents and backpack tourist. Even better, she was only in her early twenties when she did it.
Compared to my cowardy wish to see desert from the edge, she has my utmost adulation. I wanted to be her BFF, lapping on her words as we sat together, shisha standing between us. But do I really want to? Sadly I don't, not after I read her diary.
I realize I'm not being quite fair with her. After all, diaries seldom show person in their best light, especially when the person doesn't have any power in editing or brushing up and hiding whatever skeleton they've unwittingly written down for posterity. Anyhow, isn't that what people were looking for in a diary? Somebody elses skeleton and dirty laundry? So I should've known what I was going to get.
What I wanted to read; adventure galore, description of desert landscape, survival story, tiny bit of romance. I want her to show me what I could've experienced if I were her.
What I've read; a rather snobbish, obnoxiously self righteous stream of conciousness. It could've been my diary. To get it straight. She's still a great persona. She had the gumption to do all the thing she has done, surviving a murder attempt, shouting her indignation on behalf of truth and justice. But maybe for a person to be able to do all those thing she's not necessarily likeable? By me at least.
Her greatest sin for me is how judgemental she could be. Her brother, who was the last family tie she has, married a normal woman which she didn't like. What followed was whining on how he has changed, his betrayal on the bond they had, evil sister in-law poisoning him. Everything except that if his brother has chosen this type of woman for a wife, perhaps that's the kind of life he wanted, perhaps they as a couple actually more similar in character than he to the sister. I'm not rejecting the possibility that his brother's household has treated her shabbily when she was forced to bunk with them. Money and inheritance sure soured and blacken even better person. But I didn't enjoy reading about it for the most part of the diary. Especially in the hollier-than-thou and innocent-victim light that she used. Just because her brother didn't conciously and continuously strife to foster his intellectual and spiritual domain, didn't mean he's a less worthy human being.
The bigger part of the rest of the diary was about how wonderful it was to have found her soul mate. I'm glad for her, I'm sure if I were to found mine, I'd have dedicated my whole diary to him. Unfortunately I was annoyingly jealous and bitter about her whole romance. My bad.
The last stroke to fell the monument. The editorial comments. Dear lord. From the beginning it has been noted that not all entries are included. Repeated quotations and random scribbles or mundane travel notes (expenditure, etc.) have been omitted. Instead, we lucky reader are provided with some narration filling up the gaps in the heroic effort of making sure we could have a chance of piecing up her life. I'm really grateful. Honestly she's not a really dilligent diarist. But this just made me wonder what has been taken out, would I have understood anything if I relied on her words only, did I miss any juicy bits? Not really likely as the narration even tried to inject some excitement by letting us know of her kef and alcoholic binges which couldn't be seen from the entries. Still it's rather uncomfortable to have this second voice interjecting now and again.
So there, I myself have been rather judgemental here. I have this silly tendency to judge non-fictional story the same as fictional. With this review I've condemned Isabelle for not writing her diary the way fictional adventure story is written. But, no matter how exhilarating her life was, why bother to publish her diary if it's not that interesting anyway? Where can I actually read her writing on desert exploration? Do I even dare to risk reading it? Would I like her writing? Questions and questions and I'm getting further away from the desert.
I read this book with an expectation of understanding Brideshead Revisited better. In a way it's achieved as it showed me the background and the worldI read this book with an expectation of understanding Brideshead Revisited better. In a way it's achieved as it showed me the background and the world that Waugh lived. But, didn't someone said that it's useless to dwell on the author, the story is still a separate entity? (something of that extent, who was it, Alberto Manguel? Italo Calvino?someone who purposely wrote something completely different from his life to prove the point) I couldn't really take that view. Though I'm not always keen to investigate author's life to understand his writing, I still feel that their life do have an influence on their writing, concious or unconciously. It's just the matter if I want to know about it or not; most of the time I can't care less.
Waugh seems to be a writer whose writing is seeped with his own life experience. Of course with countless changes, work around, avoidances; still one can put it side by side and draw lines connecting it. Does it help me to understand Brideshead better? At some point it confused me because I mixed up fact and fiction and thought that I've interpreted something wrongly before realizing that it's something Waugh purposely tried to make different from real life. Does this knowledge make me enjoy Brideshead more? I don't think so. Brideshead is a great reading as itself, even for the most ignorant. Would Waugh like it better if Brideshead is always read in conjunction with his life? Perhaps not. Then again, I don't believe anyone still alive who can be hurt by the book, so it doesn't matter anymore.
Read as Waugh's biography, it might not be very satisfying. In a way this book mirror Brideshead where it shows more of the Marchmains instead of Charles the narrator. Here the Lygon's story slightly took over Waugh's life narration. Unfortunately it rather turn me off against reading more Waugh. I want to re-read Handful of Dust but not sure I'd like to read his other books. ...more