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About The Alexandria Quartet Pdf
Lawrence Durrell’s series of four novels set in Alexandria, Egypt during the 1940s. The lush and sensuous series consists of Justine(1957) Balthazar(1958) Mountolive(1958) Clea(1960).
Justine, Balthazar and Mountolive use varied viewpoints to relate a series of events in Alexandria before World War II. In Clea, the story continues into the years during the war.
One L.G. Darley is the primary observer of the events, which include events in the lives of those he loves, and those he knows. In Justine, Darley attempts to recover from and put into perspective his recently ended affair with a woman. Balthazar reinterprets the romantic perspective he placed on the affair and its aftermath in Justine, in more philosophical and intellectual terms.
Mountolive tells a story minus interpretation, and Clea reveals Darley’s healing, and coming to love another woman.
Lawrence Durrell, to me, has to be the most celebrated English novelist of the 20th century. I’ve read all of his books but “The Alexandria Quartet” is unquestionably his most brilliant work in the period just before the Second World War in Alexandria.
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 in all that I prefer the section on Mountolive. There he becomes involved with Leila, an older woman, and married. He keeps in touch with her and then goes back to see her many years later. Always a twist and something else…
All I can say, if someone asked me if I only had one book that I could possibly keep, what would that be? Well unquestionably the Alexandria Quartet. I just find it so impossible to describe this fantastic style of writing. The author’s vocabulary is breathtaking and the writing is just pure elegance.
I received The Alexandria Quartet as a Christmas gift from a dear person, and I was in the mood for reading series. Although I haven’t had much time for reading, this books had a hypnotic quality to them that sucked me in deep in the Durrell’s world, city of Alexandria. There are so many great quotes from this books that I not going to quote anything, because I can’t decide on one of just a few. The writing was magical, poetic, mystical, deep, talking about core and the essence of humans, often saying thing that are ignored and not talked about. It was painfully honest and written in original style that got me lost in abyss of human sexuality, subconscious places and seen and unseen realms of relationships. You can perceive city of Alexandria as hell and as whole earth and characters are not defined and fixed, their faces constantly change thought out the course of narrative, and through them you can see struggles, flaws and dark places of each and every one of us. Books take you on a different stream of consciousness than your own, and if you are willing to dig deep enough they are taking you on a journey of discovery of things that you never had the courage to unravel about yourself. This is almost like a manifest of philosophy of introspection.
What fascinated me the most is constant change in perspective that really highlighted the subjective outlook of one person, overall relativity of the truth and complexity of human character. The protagonists seem renewed over and over again, and were deeply layered, often going in the unexpected directions, not afraid to live as they want and take risks, even at the cost of being misunderstood or hated by other people. Durrell had the courage to explore most of the taboo themes of society and moral wrongs, while not be subjective or judgemental, and not injecting his own moral standings. He brings the reader in the state were he doesn’t feel like he can, will or even want to judge any of characters behaviour, even when they’re engaging in adultery, incest, suicide and other ‘sins’ condemned by society and religion. He perfectly showed the deepness of decadence of human spirit and civilization, in the same time not giving it too much of importance in the great scheme of one’s life story and history of humanity, enlightening that the deep reasons for one’s actions are far more significant that the action itself, and behind one’s moral flaws lies the story worth telling and understanding, unravelling it’s layers, time and times again, from changing perspectives. There is so little that we know about ourselves and others, and Durrell perfectly pointed the lavishness of his characters despite their brokenness.
About The Alexandria Quartet Author
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 first novel, Monsieur (1974), won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and whose third novel, Constance (1982), was nominated for the Booker Prize. He also penned the celebrated travel memoir Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (1957), which won the Duff Cooper Prize. Durrell corresponded with author Henry Miller for forty-five years, and Miller influenced much of his early work, including a provocative and controversial novel, The Black Book (1938). Durrell died in France in 1990.
The time Lawrence spent with his family, mother Louisa, siblings Leslie, Margaret Durrell, and Gerald Durrell, on the island of Corfu were the subject of Gerald’s memoirs and have been filmed numerous times for TV.