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(Alexandria Quartet #4)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,412 ratings  ·  193 reviews
The magnificent final volume of one of the most widely acclaimed fictional masterpieces of the postwar era.

Few books have been awaited as eagerly as Clea, the sensuous and electrically suspenseful novel that resolves the enigmas of the Alexandria Quartet. Some years and one world war was after his bizarre liaisons with Melissa and Justine, the Irish �migr� Darley becomes e
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 12th 1991 by Penguin Group (first published 1960)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  2,412 ratings  ·  193 reviews

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Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lawrence-durrell

Would it not, I wondered, be wiser to stay where I was? Perhaps. Yet I knew I must go. Indeed this very night I should be gone! The thought itself was so hard to grasp that I was forced to whisper it aloud to myself.
Dawn was breaking among the olives, silvering their still leaves.
How could I help but think of the past towards which we were returning across the dense thickets of time, across the familiar pathways of the Greek sea? The night slid past me, an unrolling ribbon of darkness. The wa
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-durrells
The final part of the Quartet and it’s been a wonderful journey. Not quite as strong, I thought, as the other three. It is set about seven years later. Darley has been living on a Greek island looking after Melissa’s daughter (with Nessim). Balthasar arrives with information and writing from the late Pursewarden. Many of the aps from the previous novels are filled in.
Darley returns to Alexandria, reuniting Nessim with his daughter. He bumps into Clea and begins a romantic relationship with her.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Over ten years ago, I read the first book of the Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. This summer I read books 3 & 4. Clea is the final book of the quartet and takes some of the characters' stories to their conclusions, and reveals hidden truths of others. Clea herself is more of a focus and serves as Darley's connector back to Alexandria, even if it has grown more sordid with the war.

As always the writing is astounding even if I had to look up all the French and many of the English words. Du
Ian "Marvin" Graye
This Precious Image

"Mountolive", the third volume in "The Alexandria Quartet", initially alienated me, but totally turned me around.

"Clea" started in the same manner, but more patient this time, I let it work its magic. It fell into place much more quickly, and the rewards came sooner as well.

Initially, I wondered whether it might be a grab bag of ideas and impressions stitched together as an afterthought to what might otherwise have constituted a trilogy.

Even if it had been conceived of as
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british, fiction, 2018
Will review tomorrow.
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
After an absence of 7 years or so we return to Alexandria during the last year of WWII with the reliable Darley as narrator. It seems that Durrell actually intends to give us some resolution to this multi-faceted story, so we revisit the same cast of characters, some now dead, some forever altered's difficult to even conjure up the first impressions I had of this exotic bunch.

Of course, the emotional thrust of the story revolves around Clea, someone that we've only met obliquely in the earl
Nov 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of great literature

Sadly, I have come to the end of The Alexandria Quartet*. It has been a revelatory reading experience and I now see why this dated collection is still read, praised, even loved.

I found Clea the weakest of the four, perhaps because Durrell is winding down, as is the historic city of Alexandria. (These days it is considered an unsafe location for tourists.) During the time covered by Clea, the British Empire's heyday is coming to a close. In his inimitable way, Durrell infuses all of this into a s
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, part-of-a-set
Last of the Alexandria Quartet. I've quoted from the other three, so here's a bit of Clea: "A phrase of Pursewarden's came into my mind as I softly closed the door of the ward. 'The richest love is that which submits to the arbitration of time.' "

Individually, any of the four is a gem. Altogether, the Quartet is magnificent. I don't love, or even like, Elizabeth Gilbert, but I read a quote of hers a bit ago about listening in a college freshman English class to some dude saying how Harper Lee wa
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Like all young men I set out to be a genius, but mercifully laughter intervened.

Wow, I didn't expect such a sudden dislike. Allow me to retreat to my hutch to scratch together a review.
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hard-nosed nostalgia buffs, bleeding hearts and artists and other such scum
Recommended to Alan by: Clayton W.; previous and subsequent work; the Paradox Book Store in Wheeling, WV
Clea is the fourth and final installment of Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. If you have not already done so, you should read the others—in sequence—before starting this one. I toyed with the notion of reading these out of order myself, but in the end I'm glad I stuck with the way Durrell presented them. And if you thought perhaps Durrell would run out of material after writing three other books on the same subjects... quite the contrary; there are many revelations here, events not visible ...more
Jul 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To finally have finished the fourth in this amazing quartet of books feels like a journey of sorts.

I have really adored being emersed in the lives of this group of individuals, thrown together through public and political life in a backdrop of exotic Egyptian locations and traditions starting in the romantic 1930's through to wartime. The contrast between the British characters: Mountolive, Darley, Pursewarden and others, (many eccentric tales there), to the Egyptian wealthy socialites ,wealthy
John David
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“Clea,” the fourth volume of Lawrence Durrell’s “Alexandria Quartet,” opens with several years having passed since the events of the first three volumes. Darley, the narrator, is living on a Greek island with the six-year-old illegitimate daughter Nessim fathered with Melissa. After running into Balthazar and his Inter-Linear, he eventually heads off for Alexandria again with the child, full of both trepidation and anticipation about the past and the people he knew there.

When Darley arrives in A
Czarny Pies
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Those who have read the first three books.
Shelves: english-lit
Whereas the first volumes of the Alexandra Quartet begin with a quotation from "Justine" by the Marquis de Sade, Clea starts with a quote from a different work by de Sade. It is as thoroughly sadistic as the first three volumes and equally enjoyable.

Individually, the novels are all dreadful. Together they are quite outstanding. They do however need to be read together over a fairly short period of time.
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are four volumes in Lawrence Durrell's sumptuous, stupendous narrative experiment ("Alexandria Quartet') and taken as a whole, they will astound any sensitive reader. It is a one-of-a-kind literary experience which amply deserves all the sensation and renown which surrounded its original release.

Durrell: erudite, wordy, perspicacious, sensitive. Writes with supreme adroitness towards both female and male characters. This particular experiment of his is the very last word in the psychology
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Without question the weakest volume of the Quartet. I thought it had a really pointless, tacked-on, Godfather III quality. Durrell admitted in a Paris Review interview that he had a tendency to procrastinate and then work really quickly when he found himself in severe financial straits. "Ideally, had I not been short of money, I would have written the four, and matched them properly, because there are still quite a lot of discrepancies which will have to be tidied up if the thing is gathered. Bu ...more
Julie Iskander
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To me this is my most favorable of the four books. It is the best.
Clea, Darley and Balthazar are so developed and the pain of something missing that I always felt in the other three books ends here, I find my peace with this book. Love is so peaceful and inspiring, no more confusing and hurtful. Love is hopeful and patient

“The richest love is that which submits to the arbitration of time.”
Roger Brunyate
May 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: ww2, africa

[NOTE: This review is intended for people who have read at least the first three volumes of The Alexandria Quartet. I do not recommend starting the series with Clea, and these notes will not be helpful to those that do.]

Lawrence Durrell set himself a huge challenge in his Alexandria Quartet: three volumes looking at the same events from different angles, and a fourth that would extend the story forward in time; he intended it as an analogy to the three dimensions of space and the one o
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Alexandria Quartet goes immediately into my favorites list.

As you read these four novels, your perspective changes constantly, as you find out that things you regarded as true, weren't. Darley is the main point of view character for three of the novels, but other points of view are filled in through letters and other documents.

I'll miss all these characters: Darley, Justine, Nessim, Narouz, Clea, Mountolive, Balhazar, Leila, Pursewarden, etc. Even the more comic background characters like Sc
Jill Bowman
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
The more I read this Quartet the more I like it. I’ll reserve my review because soon I’ll be starting over with Justine. I’m looking forward to it. I think I’ll enjoy it more this time.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-tbr
An amazing book and whole tetralogy! I wish more people would read this liberating non-judgemental book about personal life juxtaposed with war and history.
Christopher Sutch
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's difficult to articulate the incredible achievement Durrell has produced with the Alexandria Quartet, and this, the final novel and, in many ways, key to the series. As Durrell noted in the introduction to the second volume, _Balthazar_, his overall plan was based on the four-dimensional space of Einsteinian relativity physics, and this last volume, indeed, introduces, explicitly, the effects of time into Durrell's narrative, including all the ramifications time represents for interpersonal ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
so i have spent the last 6 months or so reading the alexandria quartet with my girlfriend and at the moment, i am a good third of the way through volume three in terms of a close read with extensive notes. i don't plan on writing a full review, but do plan on writing an essay on durrell's plagiarism - as i have hunted down a good half dozen, and counting, sources that he filched from. i also wanna try and understand why durrell did this and whether the quartet should be seen in a different light ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
At first this final book in the series didn't hold up as much as the other 3 because requited love can be boring compared to the angst of requited. But oh! how lovely to settle into that flush of union of spirits and Durrell's poetry captures that transcendence. Plus it's vital to the complete series and the horror the soul experiences as it tries to assimilate the hate and ugliness of war. I only keep books that I love. And are worth rereading and while I doubt I will do that in its entirety - ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
El Scob gets a shrine, and almost every other character loses an eye or a limb. (Justine has a droopy eye from a bit of stroke, so she makes the grade.) The concluding fourth volume continues in the same vaguely adolescent vein, swooning its way past Alexandria to the delta. Durrell is a marvelous writer, especially when the tone turns comical. Despite its operatic tendencies, I enjoyed this series.
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think this has been my favorite of the Alexandria Quartet,i can see why he had to write this, the characters are beyond beyond so quirky and odd so completely mad they would have to be put in books or be painted. I know it`s a novel but very much about Durrells life in Egypt the crazy assortments of ex pats who lived there bohemian lives right on the edge. Such writing its very dense reading and so poetic i like a challenging read it has been quite an assignment i undertook reading this quarte ...more
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it

Clea – the fourth (and final) installment in Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet – returns us to the narrative style of Balthazar, and picks up where it left off.

At the conclusion of Balthazar, Darley receives a letter from Clea, though since I read that novel almost a year ago I don’t have any recollection what that letter was about. But anyway, it was enough to prompt Darley, who had been living on an island with Nessim & Melissa’s daughter, to return
Dec 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have finished The Alexandria Quartet! I have read plenty of other books this year, but my goal this year was to read all of these books. Maybe next year my goal will be to read The Avignon Quintet? Looking back, Mountolive and Clea were probably my favorites.
Robert Zoltan
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic finale to the quartet. These four books are among the few literary works I would describe as astonishing. What an achievement. I plan to reread them soon.
Deborah Palmer
Apr 15, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 05, 2011 rated it liked it
The finale of this quartet of books is pretty satisfying and (finally) has some gripping plottwists and romantic intrigue, including a James-Franco-esque handcutting scene that's pretty kick-ass.

Books one, two, and four are in Darley's voice, so after the departure of book three, we're back to the over-the-top style begun in Justine. I liked Darley's observations about Egypt and writing (through Pursewarden) more in this book than in the first two, and I think part of my preference derives from
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Lawrence George Durrell was a critically hailed and beloved novelist, poet, humorist, and travel writer best known for The Alexandria Quartet novels, which were ranked by the Modern Library as among the greatest works of English literature in the twentieth century. A passionate and dedicated writer from an early age, Durrell’s prolific career also included the groundbreaking Avignon Quintet, whose ...more

Other books in the series

Alexandria Quartet (4 books)
  • Justine (The Alexandria Quartet #1)
  • Balthazar (The Alexandria Quartet #2)
  • Mountolive (The Alexandria Quartet #3)

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