#BOOK ⚡ The Alexandria Quartet Ü eBook or E-pub free

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 wasNicholls esprit, that laudable expansion on what 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 wasNicholls esprit, that laudable expansion on what we talk about when we review books on GR Nietzsche started this ball rolling, waxing loudly that there are not facts, but only interpretations This leads us gleaming into the vortex of Durrell s 4D apologies to Sherman and Peabody tetralogy, one name, one face, one book for each dimension in that dotty quantum way.We begin at the End The End, mind you, only of an Affair There is something greasy and squeamish about this, much like Greene s masterpiece Bendrix and Darley deserve each other, but before one can Blitz the Casbah, the threads separate and the emphasis chugs along at a different angle, involving other souls Some dead, others despairing There is a dank musk of incest here This theme finds a bizarre counterpoint throughout.The novel Balthazar takes the premise of Justine foreigners behaving badly in the ancient city and extrapolates it with an unknown resonance A History worthy of Foucault is forming midway through the second novel Darley Durrell is establishing a great interlinear a hypertext with contradicting testimony interspersed in his own account Montolive is my favorite of the set and a likely zenith for Durrell s ambition The title character is a diplomat whose own troubled passion vibrates the relations of all the other characters, even as War looms on the horizon The poems of Cavafy haunt the crackling descriptions of the feverish Egypt of the 1930s This is a lost city buried under Islamic nationalism and a modern legacy of defeat and corruption The Quartet clambers to halt in Clea, by far the weakest novel of the series The necessary throes of Darley and Clea felt so contrived that I have trouble even thinking calmly about it now What does remain placid is my memories of the book as object I bought a hardcovered boxed set of the Quartet 20 years ago and attempted several times to find purchase in its opening pages This was to avail Last fall while hobbling about on a sore knee in Berlin, I went with my wife to an English Language second hand book shop just off of Karl Marx Allee It ispathetic than romantic to see an American limping about abroad with his hands full of snobby novels Thus I am guilty 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 differentThe 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 extraor 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 differentThe 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 see for an overview of events last year in particular Layering is an appropriate term for Durrell s technique in an effort to step outside the linear nature of storytelling he has created a series of re tellings which work upon each other, re write each other His pacing of reveals is pitch perfect and, times, genuinely thrilling Layering also occurs when one thinks of the literary techniques on display the first novel in the quartet is very much of the turn of the century style, modernist, traditionally told, full of rather na ve exoticisation and riffs on love But as soon as we move onward, as soon as our perspective shifts, the techniques shift too Hints of the post modern and the post colonial shimmer to the surface, one realises that the quartet as a whole is something very much greater than the sum of its parts Alexandria at the end of the Empire is a city too of many layers Layers of history, religion, politics, class and sex, all of which are brought expertly in to play Criticisms Well, Durrell does at times allow his language to run away from him and become what can only be termed purple or florid However, as this is primarily the case in the first novel, which we learn is written by one of the characters, it can, perhaps, be excused There is, at times, much that a follower of Said would criticise though, once again, for a novel set in the 1930 s and written in the 1950 60 s, much can be excused Finally there is far too much gender essentialism for my queered sensibilities lots of that Woman is X Man is D rubbish, which all sounds very lovely and poetic, but means precisely bugger all Nevertheless, I suppose the simplest thing to say about this book is that my reading of it was a pleasure from beginning to end It is a bona fide masterpiece in the old style and often breathtakingly well written #BOOK Ú The Alexandria Quartet ⚟ Lawrence Durrell s series of four novels set in Alexandria, Egypt during the s The lush and sensuous series consists of JustineBalthazarMountoliveCleaJustine, 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 LG 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 termsMountolive tells a story minus interpretation, and Clea reveals Darley s healing, and coming to love another woman 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 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 farsignificant 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 Finished Justine the first novel The language is the star, hypnotic, insightful, poetic, abstracted, stupefying, sublime, ridiculously overwritten 73% of the time with two similes packed into a metaphorical sentence etc Struck me as exactly the sort of supreme Euro literary tradition that Knausgaard wanted to throw off Clear characters, although they all seem caught in the Alexandrine amber of the language Sexy, subtly sensationalist not much happens except for really dramatic stuff Finished Justine the first novel The language is the star, hypnotic, insightful, poetic, abstracted, stupefying, sublime, ridiculously overwritten 73% of the time with two similes packed into a metaphorical sentence etc Struck me as exactly the sort of supreme Euro literary tradition that Knausgaard wanted to throw off Clear characters, although they all seem caught in the Alexandrine amber of the language Sexy, subtly sensationalist not much happens except for really dramatic stuff in the past and present , often soporific, but always worth slow, careful reading Will read Balthazar, the second novel, later this summer need to read something a little lighter now, something in which every image is not so modified and significant 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 th 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 novels give interlocking views of the same story In Justine, we have an account of a complex love affair from the point of view of one of the people involved The second novel, Balthazar, gives a different, external perspective on the same affair suddenly, a number of things which previously didn t quite make sense come into perspective In Mountolive, we get a third take the whole thing was really about a messy political intrigue And the last book is a sequel to all three.In contrast to Dumas, Durrell doesn t say that any of the versions is the true one I wondered too if Jan Kj rstad was in his turn inspired by Durrell when he composed the Jonas Wergeland trilogy again, we have the same events shown from three complementary perspectives Though I noticed no overt reference to Durrell, and Kj rstad usually likes to give you a hint or two Well This was far from being among the greatest works of English literature in the twentieth century as claimed by the so called Modern Library whoever they are It was unique, challenging and bizarre as well as, at times, inconsistent dare I say flawed And yet somehow in the flaws is a level of honesty not found in so many books that smoothly portray reality with details intended to seduce the reader into believing That trickery of perception.Here s how it went for me beautiful, po Well This was far from being among the greatest works of English literature in the twentieth century as claimed by the so called Modern Library whoever they are It was unique, challenging and bizarre as well as, at times, inconsistent dare I say flawed And yet somehow in the flaws is a level of honesty not found in so many books that smoothly portray reality with details intended to seduce the reader into believing That trickery of perception.Here s how it went for me beautiful, poetic writingfollowed by casual racismthen brilliant artistic insightsthen ugly amoral behaviorthen cultural revelationsthen awkward constructionthen imaginative atmospheric metaphors capturing a sense of place and timethen postmodern literary devices.etc etc This book is such an odd duck that it certainly does achieve something quite unique in English literature, I do agree with that I can almost compare it, in a way, to Infinite Jest, not in content or style but in the innate inconsistency that defies categorization The awkwardness at times felt as though the author was showing his work, and a writer is the main character So is it post modern or is it not It s ambiguous, sprawling, beastly, occasionally boring It s not one thing It s four books that meander through a continuous storyline in diverse ways.One of the oddities is the perspective changes Book One, Justine, is told from the first person perspective of the writer Darley Book Two, Balthazar is also told by Darley, however it completely alters the understanding we have about the characters from Book One It straddles this odd border between metafiction and fiction because it features a partial retelling of the events from Book One I would subtitle it, The Misperceptions of Darley The premise is that Darley gave the manuscript of Book One it s implied but never quite stated that Durrell s actual Book One is Darley s manuscript to this other character Balthazar, who then corrects all of Darley s misperceptions Much like an editor might use Comments in Microsoft Word to make revisionary suggestions to an authors draft Book Two reveals that there was so much behind the scenes that Darley didn t understand, it completely repositions a new perspective , the characters from Book One One of the repeated themes of the book is that we really never understand each other what makes up a self is highly questionable as well , and over and over in the series, new facets of individuals and motives and previously unrevealed actions causes us to reevaluate the characters many times over Couple that with changes that happen to them over time, it highly destabilizes the concept of identity Book Three, Mountolive, throws another wrench into the consistency of the story in that it is told from a third person perspective, a close god s eye view from inside some of the characters featured in Books One and Two This was a strange shift that was not particularly justified by Durrell and presents details that Darley never could have known authorial invention One might hypothesize that it represents a book written by Darley, as if the character wrote Book 3however, this premise is again never directly stated, so I found the shift awkward.The fourth book, Clea, returns us to Darley s first person perspective much as in Books One and Two Again, new aspects to the characters are revealed or have evolved We never really knew them, and they are constantly in a state of flux, just as quantum particles and the universe are.Most impressive throughout The Alexandria Quartet is the nearly baroque poetic language Durrell is quite masterful and insightful when he allows his characters to be There are, in fact, TWO writers as characters in the book and Durrell manages to make them both talented, artistic and eloquent and yet utterly distinct Very skillful, subtle writing.The racism is absolutely disturbing, without question It would seem likely that, being true to British expats living in Egypt before and just after World War II, the characters are going to be infused with racialist views But the casual use of racist epithets to describe black music and black musicians is disturbing, not to mention the exotic portrayal of Egyptians Exoticism in its own way is something that betrays a level of racism that has been written about by various cultural critics it portrays races as other and incomprehensible If Durrell were weaving this into his story for a thematic reason, giving him the benefit of intentionality, it would likely be to point out that we are ALL exotic and incomprehensible to each other Durrell certainly never sugarcoats the brutality or prejudice of his characters and makes no obvious judgement upon them He presents the occurrences rather neutrally or amorally This is dicey indeed Does it matter what he the author thought Or is itimportant how we now reflect on this series published in the late 1950s It s jarring to read such casually used language, as if it s just an everyday thing Yet I think it was rather valuable, in an odd way, because it put me in the mindset of how Trump spoke about immigrants infesting this country or, like Roseann Barr tossing off her racist tweets This is casual conversation for many Americans It might have been a very small aspect of this book to Durrell, but it had a big effect on me as a reader today Racist beliefs are just an assumed, automatic and off hand aspect of the worldview of so many individuals that changing it will require a lot of significant social change Of course right now, we are going in the opposite direction with the mainstreaming of racism.Without a doubt, this is an unusual and powerful work but not one I can particularly recommend I would think those with patience for the unfolding of a story who appreciate off kilter experimental works that live in an undefinable quantum state of wtfthen yes, perhaps this is for you Strangely enough, I ve heard this described by some as a romance It seemedan anti romance to me 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 face 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 with which every story teller since the world began has staked his slender claim to the attention of his fellow men Words which presage simply the old story of an artist coming of age I wrote Once upon a time And I felt as if the whole universe had given me a nudge I supposethat 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 fromI supposethat 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 is the sensuous, evocative and delectable language It is a treat for the literary senses One of the criticisms of modern books like A Game of Thrones, Kraken and Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West is that collectively they try too hard to be gritty, atmospheric or sexy Justine, in contrast, is a prime example of how to write an atmospheric novel with an underlying exploration of sexuality without appearing to physically strain words through a blender The language is organic, not relying upon cursing or vivid description of sexual organs Rather, skilful use of adjectives creates the right sense and connotation for the reader to understand what Durrell aims to say about love and sensuality.The main criticism of this novel is the apparent lack of plot That said, there appears to be no plot merely because the plot is buried within woven language of such elaboration and complexity that any linear plot as readers normally understand them can be hard to observe Justine was still a beautiful start to this quartet and easily a 4 and a half star book.BalthazarThis novel is fardifficult to understand than its predecessor, Justine due to what appeared to be shifts in the narrative chronology and also narrator Durrell changes his narrators in subtle ways, meaning that you have to be focusing intently to grasp the inner complexities of the story, making it in many ways similar to Titus Groan albeit less bizarre, yet the thickness of the text is very similar In many ways this makes Balthazar a stronger novel than Justine and a weaker novel.This appears a weaker novel simply because those who found the first book lacking in plotting may find this second novel a tedious venture As mentioned the changes in narrator and possibly timeframe for the viewpoint create a challenge for the reader Yet it feels as if Durrell purposefully makes his work complex in order to allow the reader to observe that love and relationships are complex and often very messy, particularly the modern way love is approached by individuals as a free for all.It also appears that Durrell s intentions areclear in this novel as to what he is attempting to achieve, hence making it a stronger work entirely His skills as a wordsmith and stylist which leads one to compare him to Mervyn Peake are fully on display in phrases likethe cloying grunting intercourse of saxophones and drumsandThe dark tides of Eros, which demand full secrecy if they are to overflow the human soulThe first phrase particularly fascinated me because it indicated a subtle sense of humour in the writing, which I assume, given by Durrell s intelligent nature, is intentional This humour stems from the fact that the word for Jazz, which Durrell powerfully describes, originally came from a word meaning the act of intercourse The second phrase in conjunction with the first, also reveals that though Durrell is a classy poetic writer the evocation of Eros is sublime he has a hint of earthiness to his quality In other words he is both a man of the gentry or bourgeoisie as well as the peasantry On the whole easily a five star novel Very highly recommended for anyone who appreciates literary novels, classics or fine prose over traditional plotting.MountolivePerhaps the weakest of all the four novels in this tetralogy, Mountolive again takes the reader back through the narrative arc of the first two novels Yet even through its weakness this novel reveals the strength of the overall work, the ability to weave a portrayal of a city and its people into a complex analysis of politics and modern love.Often, when a writer travels back over narratives already familiar to the reader, what events will occur next is rather obvious Yet Durrell is able to convince the reader that they understand very little of the events of the previous books, unearthing new layers and new details for the reader In particular the hidden elements connected to espionage and war profiteering Yet, as mentioned, Mountolive, for whatever reason, is weaker than the other four tales in the entire Alexandria Quartet Perhaps it is the fact of how the narrative shifts to other characters than in previous novels and in the final novel The main character of this novel, the titular David Mountolive, is a less fascinating and enigmatic character and the encounters he has are, from his perspective, less engaging to the reader That said, the scenes with Pursewarden in this novel are some of its greatest aspects and not to be missed by any reader.Four stars.CleaIt is in Clea that the full experimental and unique nature of this entire work is revealed Lawrence Durrell, in the previous books, had experimented with chronology and nesting narratives into the tale, yet in Clea this experimentation reaches a glorious crescendo.Where the previous three novels had followed the same plotline from different perspectives, Clea takes the reader into the future to observe what happens to the characters after For the most part the conclusions are not happy or beautiful, rather they reveal a sense of the corrupting influence of the city Yet this novel is the most beautifully written of all of them in how it merges poetry and prose into an exploration of the impact of modern love.Ultimately the conclusion that can be drawn from this novel is that in acting selfish one can expect ill gains in the future Where the idea of free love had entered the public awareness Durrell seems to suggest that love is never free Indeed, he seems to challenge the reader as to the nature of real, healthy love and ask them to observe that sexual love is a defining knowledgeable act That love in its entirety is also deep and complex, much like the narration s flow is also an aspect of this final conclusion s didactic tale Five stars.The Entire WorkAs a work of fiction The Alexandria Quartet in its entirety is profound, serenely beautiful and complex It reminds the reader of Ulysses in how it experiments with the reader s understanding of plot lines and it reminds one of The Great Gatsby in its poetic prose style Yet this is a unique work, one of those which shall be remembered for years as a truly classic novel Looking over the Goodreads 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 th Looking over the Goodreads 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, and taste on the wind both the dust of the desert and the salt of the Mediterranean Sea He also can let his prose run away with him He found himself a prey to gravitational forces which lie inherent in the time spring of our acts, making them spread, ramify and distort themselves making them spread as a stain will spread upon a white ceiling Block that metaphor In spite of occasional excesses like this, Durrell rendered me as helplessly enchanted as the five star readers, but eventually as irritated as the two stars This work is about everything, and thus about nothing in particular It is about memory and its illusions about every form of love you can imagine, including brother sister incest about faith and betrayal, both human and religious about art and its causes supernatural forces genius luck work about the inadequacy of words for accurate communication he complains at one point that even his wonderful descriptions are only the verbal equivalent of a monochrome snapshot about the impossibility of ever capturing truth by means of memory and expression After a thousand pages, I was hoping for some resolution, some admission that, although the truth is not possible, we can at least make better and better approximations but resolution would have been untrue to the fundamental claims the work was trying to make I have a friend who has read this work three times since it came out around 1960, with a different but always admiring view of it each time I can see possibly tackling it again in 10 years or so, but right now I ve absorbed all I can