Books on my wish list: The Alexandria Quartet

“What I most need to do is to record experiences, not in the order in which they took place — for that is history — but in the order in which they first became significant for me.” ….  

A long time ago I heard about this novel, I tried to read it but as I was too young to understand it I didn’t continue it, plus my father didn’t like it that I read such a controversial novel (I didn’t read it all so I don’t know what’s controversial about it!).

 I was reminded by this novel today when I read in el Ahram that today is the birthday of Lawrence Durrell the writer of this novel (he was born in 27 Feb 1912).

That’s why I decided to dig for this novel once again. I like the idea of telling the story from more than one side !

The Alexandria Quartet is a tetralogy of novels by British writer Lawrence Durrell, published between 1957 and 1960. A critical and commercial success, the books present four perspectives on a single set of events and characters in Alexandria, Egypt, before and during World War II.

As Durrell explains in his preface to Balthazar, the four novels are an exploration of relativity and the notions of continuum and subject-object relation, with modern love as the subject. The Quartet could be seen as operating in a similar manner as Rashomon in that it offers the same sequence of situations to us through the points of view of several different people. It carries the concept further by allowing individual perspectives to change over the course of time.”

The four novels are:

In, I found an interesting review: “Durrell is writing spatially as well as sequentially. The first book, Justine, leaves gaps in the reader’s knowledge to reflect the gaps in the narrator’s knowledge. The second book, Balthazar, retraces the same material and fills in some of the gaps as the narrator learns more. The third book, Mountolive, tells the story in the form of a traditional novel (third person) and fills in most of the gaps. The fourth book, Clea, is set later in time; it once again leaves gaps to reflect what the narrator doesn’t know. This is a fascinating approach, but to enjoy it, you must be willing to endure unanswered questions that reflect the narrator’s lack of knowledge (including some, in Clea, that will never be answered).”

This book seems to be an interesting read, one that needs lots of time in order to enjoy it 🙂


4 responses to “Books on my wish list: The Alexandria Quartet

  1. I’ve read this novel and it made a deep impression on me. It’s changed my way of thinking about so many thing. There is everything in this novel. It is about life.The structure of the novel is also gripping and unique.
    I suppose if I read it again it would has another signification to me. (And of course a few years later I am going to read it) 🙂

    (Perhaps my English is no too good. Sorry but I’ve learnt English for a few month.)

  2. Thanks Lili for dropping by 🙂
    ur english is perfect ! thanks for recommending the book, I have just came from Alexandria and I can’t wait to discover Durell’s city through his eyes

  3. Pingback: Durrell Celebration « Kaleidoscope

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