Set amid the corrupt glamour and multiplying intrigues of Alexandria, Egypt, in the 1930s and 1940s, the novels of Durrell's Alexandria Quartet (of which this is the first) follow the shifting alliances - sexual, cultural and political - of a group of quite varied characters. In Justine, an English schoolmaster and struggling writer falls in love with a beautiful and mysterious Jewish woman who is married to a wealthy Egyptian.
In the final volume of the Alexandria Quartet, Darley returns to an Alexandria now caught by war fever. The conflagration has its effect on his circle - on Nessim and Justine, Balthazar and Clea, Mountolive and Pombal.
In Balthazar, the second volume in Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, the story and the characters come more clearly into focus. Darley, the reflective Englishman, receives from Balthazar, the pathologist, a mass of notes which attempt to explain what really happened between the tempestuous Justine, her husband Nessim, Clea the artist, and Pursewarden the writer.
"transcendent prose, maturing plot and characters"
Beginning with the affair of a young David Mountolive with the mother of Nessim and Narouz, this novel recounts his development and career as a diplomat, and finally places the materials previously seen in Justine and Balthazar in a different context.
"Durrell and Alexandria"
Justine is the first volume in The Alexandria Quartet, four interlinked novels set in the sensuous, hot environment of Alexandria just before the Second World War. Within this polyglot setting of richly idiosyncratic characters is Justine, wild and intense, wife to the wealthy business man Nessim, a mari complaisant.
"A Crime to Abridge"
Lawrence Durrell's evocative memoir of living in Cyprus, just before the Greek/Turkish partition. This is a touching and atmospheric account of a place, now changed, where the two races lived side by side.
Pope Joan traces the remarkable history of a young woman who, according to tradition, travelled across Europe in the ninth century disguised as a monk, acquired great learning and ruled over Christendom for two years as Pope John VIII before dying in childbirth. On the books first publication in Athens in 1886, it created a sensation; it was banned and its author excommunicated. The work became nevertheless soon established itself securely in Greek literature.
In Clea, the concluding part of The Alexandria Quartet, Darley returns to Alexandria now caught by war-fever. The conflagration has its effect on his circle - on Nessim and Justine, Balthazar and Clea, Mountolive and Pombal - but a clarity of purpose emerges as the story moves toward its cadence.
In this second volume in Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, Darley, the reflective Englishman, receives from Balthazar, the pathologist, a mass of notes which attempts to explain what really happened between the tempestuous Justine, her husband Nessim, Clea the artist, and Pursewarden the writer.
In Mountolive, the third volume in Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet, the events surrounding the interwoven community of Nessim, Justine, Narouz, Pursewarden, and the other major characters are given a very different perspective. The intrigues and complex relationships are seen through the political prism of a world plunging toward war.