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Alexandria Quartet (Modern Classics) epub

by Lawrence Durrell


Alexandria Quartet (Modern Classics) epub

ISBN: 9626342404

ISBN13: 978-9626342404

Author: Lawrence Durrell

Category: Literature and Fiction

Subcategory: Genre Fiction

Language: English

Publisher: Naxos Audio Books (April 1, 2005)

ePUB book: 1946 kb

FB2 book: 1283 kb

Rating: 4.6

Votes: 779

Other Formats: docx doc doc azw





An introduction to lawrence durrell’s alexandria quartet

An introduction to lawrence durrell’s alexandria quartet. This celebrated tetralogy from the 1950s was defined by its author as an investigation of modern love, but has often been regarded by its readers more as an evocation of a city – the Greco-Arab, multi-ethnic Alexandria of its title. Almost infinite variations of love are certainly explored in its 1000-odd pages, and the presence of Alexandria certainly permeates the work, but for myself I think the legendary fascination of the quartet is essentially existential

The Alexandria Quartet is a tetralogy of novels by British writer Lawrence Durrell, published between 1957 and 1960.

The Alexandria Quartet is a tetralogy of novels by British writer Lawrence Durrell, published between 1957 and 1960. A critical and commercial success, the first three books present three perspectives on a single set of events and characters in Alexandria (Egypt), before and during the Second World War. The fourth book is set six years later.

FREE shipping on qualifying offers. Lawrence Durrell was one of the best-selling, most celebrated English novelists of the late twentieth century. The Alexandria Quartet is unquestionably his most admired work.

The Alexandria Quartet book. 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 .

Justine (Alexandria Quartet) By Durrell Lawrence ( Author . Spirit of Place Lawrence Durrell's Greece - Продолжительность: 1:11:30 Laurence Williamson Recommended for you. 1:11:30.

Justine (Alexandria Quartet) By Durrell Lawrence ( Author )Jul-12-1991 Paperback. KCTV visit The white house, former Durrell Household, Kalami,as featured in New ITV series.

The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. Lawrence Durrell claimed that in the Alexandria Quartet 'only the city is real'. Lawrence Durrell- The Black Book. Reading Material, Book Of Life, Justine, Alexandria, Short Stories, Reading Lists, Nonfiction, Song Lyrics, Storytelling. Sam Jordison takes us through images which show the inspiration for his vivid descriptions. one Peruvian, voluptuary, a prostitute, a gigolo and a real hypochondriac, kept Lucifer company. What others are saying.

more than the first page of Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet In some cases, it’s because of the book’s stature as a classic, with all the freight that word implies

It’s a view of an octagonal tower on the roof of an Alexandrine villa, the place Lawrence Durrell lived during the first years of World War II and where he started writing Justine, the first of the quartet’s novels. In some cases, it’s because of the book’s stature as a classic, with all the freight that word implies. As with so-called health food, one has been told so many times of its beneficial properties that one suspects it’s rather unexciting. Far better to turn to the fast food fare of the latest bestsellers.

This quartet of novels, undoubtedly one of the great English works of the post-World War II period, is set in war-time Alexandria, with its politics, passions, corruption and vice. The experimental form presents the narrative from different view points, allowing the story to unfold gradually.
I am conflicted about this book. My mentor/friend has been recommending this to me for thirty years. He undoubtedly read this when he was in high school/college in the early-1960's, when Durrell and the Alexandria Quartet were at the peak of the notoriety. I went into the book expecting crisp prose and tight, spare plot, that would then be re-examined through the other books.

However, what I got was a literary book of florid prose and a deeply buried plot. It is said that the difference between literary fiction and genre fiction is that the former is predicated on characters while the latter is predicated on plot. This book makes that distinction crystal clear. It is almost entirely about the characters, including Justine, a kind of Jewish manic-pixie dream girl; Nessim, Justine's Coptic long-suffering husband; Balthasar, a homosexual master of Kabbalah; Pursewarden, an author whose death leaves the narrator with a bequest; Scobie, a homosexual comic-figure; Pomby, an English diplomat; Melissa, the narrator's put-upon girlfriend; and the city of Alexandria itself. The story is told by the unnamed narrator who is kind of a poor English schoolteacher who gains access to this eclectic circle of friends and acquaintances.

The narrator tells the reader at length about the backstory of all of his friends and acquaintances, including their tastes and eccentricities and interconnections and gossip and taste in clothing and residence and on and on. The introduction I read said flat out that most people would skim this book, and I certainly did.

The writing is definitely luxurious. If you like descriptions, then this is your book. Personally, I enjoyed Durrell's idiosyncratic, varied and obscure vocabulary. I added phthisic, pegamoid, adventive, calcimined, tarbush, hebetude, and couloir to my vocabulary list. I also renewed my acquaintance with palpitant, adventive, antinomian, exiguous, etiolation, tenebrous, soutane and Corniche, although I had to look them up in order to really appreciate their use in a given sentence.

Durrell can turn a phrase. Let me share a few examples:

"I return link by link along the iron chains of memory to the city which we inhabited so briefly together..." (p. 1.)

"The shops filling and emptying like lungs in the Rue des Soeurs." The shops filling and emptying like lungs in the Rue des Soeurs." (p. 6.)

"Balthazar said quietly: ‘Thank God I have been spared an undue interest in love. At least the invert escapes this fearful struggle to give oneself to another. Lying with one’s own kind, enjoying an experience, one can still keep free the part of one’s mind which dwells in Plato, or gardening, or the differential calculus." (p. 66.)

"‘The cocktail-party — as the name itself indicates — was originally invented by dogs. They are simply bottom-sniffings raised to the rank of formal ceremonies.’" (p. 124.)

"I meant of course the whole portentous scrimmage of sex itself, the act of penetration which could lead a man to despair for the sake of a creature with two breasts and le croissant as the picturesque Levant slang has it." (p. 135.)

Don't get me wrong. These, and some others, stand out sharp and crisp in long and often difficult passages, but these are good.

It also occurred to me that Durrell's writing style might have influenced that of one of my favorite writers, Roger Zelazny. The tone and the attitude seemed to correspond, and Zelazny came to prominence in the mid to late 1960s.

There is a plot, but it is often obscured by the descriptions of characters and place. The essence of the plot is based on the unnamed narrator's affair with Justine. For 80% of the book, this is mostly buried underneath the narrator's description of the city or of the activities of other characters. Because of the emphasis on telling the story as basically a series of introductions of this character or that character, without letting us know why any character is important, the story does not even stick to a chronological format. The narrator's girlfriend is introduced at one point, then, later on, the story of how he met her is presented, and at other points, she simply disappears from the story as if he had broken up with her.

Around ten percent toward the end, we get the inkling of a plot as it seems that Nessim knows about the affair and may take dire action into his hands. On the other hand, a lot of this seems to be going on in the head of the narrator because Nessim appears to quite friendly to him.

One of the difficulties in Durrell's writing style is his tendency to discuss a character for paragraphs without telling us who the character is. The character gets talked about as a "he" or a "she" and the reader has to discern from context who the character is.

Likewise, Durrell introduces a lot of characters whose importance is unclear. I get the sense that Scobie will be important in later volumes. Altogether too much interest was invested in him to be only something of a comic relief/plot device. Scobie does provide a source of money to the narrator, but, really, we don't see the narrator actually working to make money elsewhere. He seems to exist only to meet up with Justine at various places where he can have sex with her. Likewise, Pursewarden has a walk-on, then dies, leaving the narrator with money that will be useful at the end, but the way he is discussed seems to suggest that he is not supposed to be only a supporting character.

And the fascination with Justine, and the basis of the relationship between the narrator and Justine, are also a mystery. Their chemistry seems more stipulated to than demonstrated.

And maybe this is why this book is good literature. It has me thinking and questioning.

I was ready to drop the project of reading all four books midway into Justine, but the last ten percent of Justine seems to have hooked me and I intend to push on to Balthazar and see if I can get some answers to my questions.
It is difficult to capture the satisfaction of reading the Alexandria Quartet. I spaced reading of the four novels over two years, and always returned with joy and anticipation. One of the best things about the quartet is delving deeper into an overarching story with each of the first three novels. It's like peeling an onion. In addition, the vastly dissimilar points of view are great and displays the author's talent. Truthfully, the novels at times challenged my ability to assimilate the philosophy advanced by the characters, and this from someone who enjoys Umberto Eco and Saramaga. There are few books I will read again, but I can see myself returning, if not to all four, then to the fourth novel which serves as a good endpiece to the set. Although these novels were written at the end of the fifties, I kept feeling as if I were reading a slightly more modern D. H. Lawrence or one of the Lost Generation writers. Buy it. Read it.
I would have to be a far better writer than I am to do justice to a work like this, and it seems distinctly odd to be writing only the second review of this classic for Amazon. I first read it as a teen and missed nearly everything there was to delight me as a grownup. This is not a book for those who like linear literature or concise prose.

Durrell's prose is some of the lushest in my acquaintance. Almost every chapter begins with a word-picture that sucked me in and seduced me with a strong sense of place. Throughout the work, there are phrases, sentences, and paragraphs that jump off the page and insist on being read aloud to whoever is nearby.

His characters are colorful and deep, but their depths are not accessible at a glance any more than with real people. Durrell used a fascinating technique that reminds me of Pointilism and Cubism combined. He puts thousands of dots of color on the canvas until you begin to see a picture in depth. But just when you think you've got it, he shifts perspective and you see new dimensions in the characters that were unsuspected by narrator and reader alike.

The adjective "painterly" occurs to me in connection with Durrell, as in 'This is a writerly book!' It connects with literature as diverse as Cavafy, Forster, Parachelsus, de Sade, Freud, and traditional Arab folklore, and echoes of Durrell are heard in works by the generations of writers who followed him. Also it is a book for writers and for artists of all stripes, as many of its characters are aspiring, successful, or failed artists.

This is also a study of "love" in all its forms. Of sexual entanglements there are plenty: incest, rape, prostitution, May-December romance, and adultery by the carload... but also loves of place, of friends, of service, of status, of ideals and traditions... and all the frustrations and tragedies that attend these loves.

I strongly recommend the Alexandria Quartet to those who have the vocabulary, patience, and love of elegant language necessary to the appreciation of a literary masterpiece.
Not merely prose buy poetry. The story is the least important aspect of the novel. It is the language. I have carried a copy throughout the world, vietnam, sierra leone, france, mexico, greece and the usa. I wouldn't want to be without it. Of course the other 3 volumes of the quartet tell basically the same story from other characters perspectives.