Alexandria Quartet : Justine/Balthazar/Mountolive/Clea
Rep/Bx set edition
(Paper); ISBN: 0140153179
of four novels by Lawrence Durrell. The lush and sensuous
tetralogy, which consists of Justine (1957), Balthazar
(1958), Mountolive (1958), and Clea (1960),
is set in Alexandria, Egypt, during the 1940s. Three of the
books are written in the first person, Mountolive in
the third. The first three volumes describe, from different
viewpoints, a series of events in Alexandria before World
War II; the fourth carries the story forward into the war
years. The events of the narrative are mostly seen through
the eyes of one L.G. Darley, who observes the interactions
of his lovers, friends, and acquaintances in Alexandria. In
Justine, Darley attempts to recover from and understand
his recently ended affair with Justine Hosnani. Reviewing
various papers and examining his memories, he reads the events
of his recent past in romantic terms. Balthazar, named
for Darley's friend, a doctor and mystic, reinterprets Darley's
views from a philosophical and intellectual point of view.
The third novel is a straightforward narrative of events,
and Clea, volume four, reveals Darley healing, maturing,
and becoming capable of loving Clea Montis, a painter and
the woman for whom he was destined.
October 10, 1982
By ANATOLE BROYARD
Is ''The Alexandria Quartet'' as good as we all thought it was
when we first read it more than 20 years ago? I wondered about this
when I saw that Lawrence Durrell has a new novel, ''Constance,''
coming out. Since nothing he published after the ''Quartet'' seemed
to be in the same class, it occurred to me that we may have overestimated
the books for which he is famous.
So I went back to the ''Quartet'' - like novelists, we have to
keep revising ourselves - and read ''Justine,'' the first volume.
I want to say immediately that it struck me as even better this
time. It is, among other things, one of the great city novels, reminding
us of Dickens's London, Balzac's Paris, Joyce's Dublin. Such books
have a quality for which the Germans should have a word - something
like ''city-hunger,'' or ''city-angst,'' a human tropism which makes
us huddle or press together in the hope of intensifying our lives
and crushing our loneliness. City-hunger is something like Freud's
death instinct, an impatience to get to hell or purgatory, beyond
the childish gratifications of the pleasure principle. [read
Lawrence George - brief profile and photo.
- International Lawrence
Durrell Society - promoting the study, understanding, and
appreciation of the authors' works. Includes biography, list of
works, links, and more.
- Lawrence and
Gerald Durrell - biography and list of selected works for
the authors and brothers.
Durrell Archive - with biography, list of works, and more.
- Lawrence Durrell
Papers Collection 42 - features inventory of 34 boxes of material
from 1933-1971, from the Morris Library of Southern Illinois University.
- Lawrence Durrell
Papers Second Accession, 1990 - inventory of this chronological
continuation of collection 42 of Durrell's papers.