The Alexandria Quartet

The Alexandria Quartet Lawrence Durrell s series of four novels set in Alexandria Egypt during the s The lush and sensuous series consists of Justine Balthazar Mountolive Clea Justine Balthazar and

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 DarLawrence 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 philosophical and intellectual terms Mountolive tells a story minus interpretation, and Clea reveals Darley s healing, and coming to love another woman.

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The Alexandria Quartet

  1. 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.

145 Reply to “The Alexandria Quartet”

  1. In terms of literary achievment, I have never ever ever read any book or, technically, four books that surpass The Alexandria Quartet These are my favorite books Period.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 fascinating to [...]

  2. I supposeat 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 layersa series of novels with sliding panels Balthazar, p 338JustineA 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 reading this it i [...]

  3. 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 [...]

  4. Zeus gets Hera on her backBut finds that she has lost the knack.Extenuated by excessesShe is unable, she confesses.Nothing daunted Zeus, who wise isTries a dozen good disguises.Eagle, ram, and bull and bearQuickly 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 extraordinary novel s [...]

  5. Looking over the reviews of this tetralogy, I find almost everyone gave it either five stars with the note that it s the greatest work they have ever read and that it changed their lives, to one or two stars marked by utter impatience I can identify with both There are breathtakingly beautiful descriptions of every aspect of nature, light, desert, sea, wildlife and repeated descriptions of the lovely, decadent, and deadly city of Alexandria Durrell makes you feel the heat, smell the fragrances, [...]

  6. 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 say [...]

  7. I realized then the truth about all love that it is an absolute which takes all or forfeits all The other feelings, compassion, tenderness and so on, exist only on the periphery and belong on the constructions of society and habit.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 Nicholls esprit, that laudable expansion on what we talk ab [...]

  8. Even though it took me ages to finish this massive read, the eloquence and the elegancy of the prose blew me away I absolutely adored the fact that the plot was non linear,at least during the first 3 books, whilst the landscape descriptions were mesmerizing and haunting.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 faces w [...]

  9. Being a serial book adulterer I have fallen into and wandered out of love with an amoral number of books but I remain forever in thrall to the Alexandria Quartet.Of course, I may change my mind in ten years Let s just wait and see.

  10. While I was reading Les Trois Mousquetaires last week, I wondered a couple of times if it had served as partial inspiration for The Alexandria Quartet One of the cleverest things about the Dumas novel is the way he reinterprets early 17th century French history as really being about the romantic lives of Anne of Austria, on the large scene, and D Artagnan, on the small one a sort of Sherlock Holmes Basil the Great Mouse Detective deal Here, Durrell takes the idea a step further The first three n [...]

  11. Probably one of the most spectacular things I ve read in a long time The writing is exquisite ornate and sweeping The characters are cast from all corners of Egyptian society, bringing high and low together in a sensuous jumble The shifting narrative means that as you go through the series you get and perspective on the characters and essential plot points Initial impressions are upended and all wrong More and illusions are shattered and you re left with something painful, but utterly real On [...]

  12. Star RatingI 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 ratings to five. [...]

  13. This cursed city of ours, Alexandria, to which we most belong when we most hate it.1 Justine youtube watch v 51OB2Y2 Balthazar youtube watch v NqGQIO3 Mountolive youtube watch v FYaRpB4 Clea youtube watch v 68u9VwPo elo je nezanimljivo, sa puno veznih peripetija Toliko da sam tokom itanja u sebi pakosno recitovala Harmsa Jednog dana se mlada osoba oklizne, padne u otvor od kanalizacije i slomi ki mu I kad se potpuno oporavila, iznenada se prehladi i umre Onda mladi , zaljubljen u nju, izvr i sam [...]

  14. I ve just reread the Quartet after a forty year interval during which I ve enjoyed hundreds of books, and in recent years, written fiction of my own I was once overwhelmed by Durrell s descriptive power and humbled by his explosive creativity As I returned to exotic Alexandria, I wondered if I would once again be transfixed by the same kaleidoscope of words that had once rotated my view of love and life Four volumes later the answer is YES Although my understandings have evolved, these books rem [...]

  15. A magnificent work, tightly constructed it is impossible to consider these four volumes independently Though published separately, they form a whole 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 and yet, and yet

  16. Writing a review of something I read than thirty years ago is difficult but I suspect reviewing Durrell s Quartet is difficult at any time I remember being confused by much of it but feeling compelled to read the four separate novels nonetheless What remains in my memory today is the heady atmosphere of heat, intrigue, Cadafy s poetry and the mysterious city of Alexandria which Durrell captured in his own idiosyncratic way The characters and their doings are long forgotten.I don t think I would [...]

  17. The oranges were plentiful than usual that year They glowed in their arbors of burnished green leaf like lanterns flickering up there among the sunny woods These are the first two sentences in the last volume Clea of The Alexandria Quartet It has to be in the top ten or top five greatest books I have ever read I knew one day I would have to read it but I had no idea what an amazing read it would be At first, one almost thinks that Durrell is just showing off great sentences continually evolving [...]

  18. There are some stories to which one should return at intervals I got my first taste of Durrell when I was twenty or so I d just described my view of the Manhattan skyline at night, and my older, better read paramour who may have had ulterior motives said, My God, you sound just like Durrell I dove in and these books changed me Just as our reflections on still water bear remarkable fidelity to us but break apart when the water roils, the Quartet reveals that what we know or think we love and love [...]

  19. Alexandria between the wars I don t think there will ever be a sensual, lyrical, painterly writer than Durrell, nor a exquisitely delineated labyrinthine, incestuous, brilliant, tangled society than that of his Alexandria, Egypt A single page contains beauty than is in the entire New York Times Bestseller list combined If I could have written any book, I think it would have been these four interwoven masterpieces.

  20. What is he talking about But there are 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 was the great winep [...]

  21. Multiple, very poetical at times, iterations on the relationships of a tight knit group of people, the way they use abuse and exploit each other.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 Inthat dismissal of the absolute, very post modernist.I took a break after Justine Balthazar seems easier this timearound, and certainly the n [...]

  22. Beautiful, eloquent, haunting, airy, meditative, suave, cosmopolitan, transcendent, poetic, romantic, pessimistic, ruminative, opaque, mournful, tender, modern, erotic, imaginative, masterful, magnificent

  23. P edstavte si, e by postavy z knih st rly Valn v t ina literatury 20 stolet by dnes byla z le itost starobn ch d chodc Mal princ s ediv mi ku erami by se belhal po pou ti s vypelichan m exempl em li ky, Florentino Ariza z L sky za as cholery by to u musel m t za sebou a mo n e i Oskar Matzerath by za ty roky o p r centimetr povyrostl a do sv ho bub nku by u neml til s takovou vervou S t m v m bych se je t n jak sm il, ale kdyby zest rla Justina, Darley, Melissa nebo Nessim, kdybych se musel d va [...]

  24. This is bad writing dressed up as lamb It s pompous and pseudo psychological nonsense is funny and grating The long winded images and metaphors are a lesson in what not to do.

  25. With its non linear structure, sensuous prose, and cast of characters buffeted and beleaguered by love, this tetralogy is one of the masterworks of the twentieth century, and remains the finest work of literature to emerge from Alexandria.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 depresse [...]

  26. In a way, this review of Durrell s masterpiece has been lurking in the shadows of my mind for decades Three of the volumes have been sitting on my bookshelf for thirty years patiently waiting daring for me to turn back the pages and begin again Would they be as powerful and evocative as the first time Would they propel me back in time to the girl I was on the bus traveling from Oaxaca to Mexico City trying to read Justine through tears shed for a just lost love Belated apologies to the man trapp [...]

  27. The author of the first book, Justine, has fallen in love with the titular character who is another man s wife and writes a book about it Pre WW2 Alexandria and the group of expats, outcasts, and diplomats living or posted there are seen through the author s eyes as the affair with Justine heats up, stutters and starts, and falters In Balthazar, comments and notes from a bit player in the first novel cast a different, darker light onto the events relayed in the first book and introduce elements [...]

  28. I ve loved Durrell s Alexandria Quartet since I was first an undergraduate I don t recall how I heard of it, but I had all four volumes in mass amrket paperbacks with elegantly sexy and vaguely Art Nouveau covers and sat in my rooms at university just being amazed at what Durrell could do with language and discovering C.P Cavafy s poetry via Durrell 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, and the n [...]

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