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LAWRENCE DURRELLS THE

ALEXANDRIA

QUARTET - AN INVESTIGATION OF MODERN LOVE Prof. Ga r!"#a MOLDOVIANU L!$"%# T"&'o#o(!$ Co)*a$&" Co'a$&! Co+%'a P"$&"a, -%.. Ga#a/! This atmospheric, poetic quartet of novels, undoubtedly one of the great English works of the post-Second World War period, is set in war-time Ale andria, with its politics, passions, corruption and vice! "urrell#s e perimental form presents the narrative from different view points, allowing the story to unfold gradually! Justine marked the beginning of a remarkable financial success for "urrell! Balthazar $ written in % weeks &, Mountolive $ written in % weeks & represented both uncommon literary and financial success! Clea $ written in ' weeks & marked a step further in terms of literary comple ity but also a gradual slowdown of his critical acclaim! Starting with the late si ties "urrell, with a firmly established literary and financial success, gradually withdrew from public and literary circles! (e further produced an impressive amount of works, but became increasingly reluctant to reveal his private life or let personal issues reach mass-media! )))

The Alexandria Quartet - is structured so that the characters are both *observers+ and *protagonists+ and the narrative line is frequently broken or complicated by the introduction of letters, fragments of diaries, flash-backs, and, above all by a time-space fiction entailing numberless intricacies and cross-roads! The story line is frequently devious, occasionally blurred and, at times, confounded! $ "!,iocoi--op - Highlights., /00/, pag! 12 &! The novel Justine opens quietly! An unidentified narrator living on an island in the ,yclades, is looking through some papers which trigger many memories! 3t is only in the second book that their unidentified narrator becomes identifiable under the name of 4!5! "arley $ the name is similar to 4awrence 5eorge "urrell & who is in many ways reminiscent of the author himself! The narrator is a poor Anglo-3rish teacher, neither young nor old, and

fairly unassuming! The narrator is both an observer and a reporter, and above all a searcher for meanings! Justine is not 7ust an evocation, but a bodily con7uration of Ale andria 8 soft, sweet, corrupt and cra9y, like some impossibly cloying tropical fruit $ :enneth ;e roth Lawrence Durrell, www!bopsecrets!org &! "arley remembers his love affair with <ustine, =essim>s wife and with ?elissa, a dancer in a night club! 4ike ?elissa, <ustine, a very comple and frequently ineffable character leaves her imprint on many other characters! <ustine, a pianist, a discerning reader and a voluptuous lover - an authentic Ale andrian! At times she ceases being mere voluptuary and stands for love itself! -ia @rAn9eu in the anne of Justine $ 4awrence "urrell B Justine, Editura -olirom, 3asi, /00/, pag! /1C& mentions that "urrell>s second wife Dvette $ Eve & ,ohen, a <ewess from Ale andria served as a model for the character <ustine, while his Crd wife ,laude ?arie Eincendon was the model for ,lea! <ustine is a modern reflection of queen ,leopatra, a passionate, charming woman, always searching for love affairs! (er various affairs leave the impression of a nymphomaniac attitude connected to the fact that <ustine is trying to escape the obsession of a childhood rape she was victim of! She believes that by repeating the brutal act she will be saved! This doesn>t happen! <ustine represents the feminine principle illustrated by 3shtar, Astarte, Aphrodite or the Empress! From the tarot and ?elissa embodies =ut, 3sis, "emeter or the (igh -riestess! "arley embodies the meditating man, the man of passive contemplation, the Fool in the tarot! =essim is the representation of the ?agus, he>s the man of action and of great decisions! Sent to Egypt at a young age to learn Arabian, the future @ritish ambasador, ?ountolive goes to (osnani family where he meets the two brothers =essim and =arou9 and falls in love with their mother 4eila! The evolution of ?ountolive towards success is very shallow, he must choose between the cause of the country he represents and his feelings! (e will choose for the first even if he knows that his choice would destroy 4eila! (e will give up 4eila, a woman who at the beginning was rebelling against the Egyptian veil and the severely patriarchal life and who will hide behind it after being abandoned saying that chicken po has mutilated her! ?ountolive will reorient his love towards 4i9a, -ursewarden>s blind sister, although he knows about the incestuous relationship between the two brothers! (e won>t marry her either afraid that a blind woman ambassador could not fit! So, if he>s unable to get the spirit of modern Egypt represented by 4eila, he can>t perceive the unconscious of Ale andria, dark and blind, 7ust like the misterious 4i9a! Ale andria, the city-is one of the ma7or characters of Justine and of the quartet as a whole! For the characters of the novel to live in Ale andria>s neighbourhoods is a painful e perience! The town hurts their bodies and souls! Then, it ties them to its places, taking away /

their freedom! Who once tasted the strangeness of this space could only return here in a final reunion with its variate images! "arley truly understands the profound relationship that each person establishes with the provocative place, a relationship necessary for it to create it>s identity! @ecause, as "ublin defined <oyce>s 3rish people, Ale andria defines "urrell>s Egyptians!$ -ia @rAn9eu in Justine , /00/, pag! C01 &! @ecause it is a world beyond time and space, Ale andria wins the mystical unity of a cosmic womb of the Grient, marked by different cyclesH of the year, of destiny, of the soul! At the end of the Quartet "arley and ,lea separate and become independent, capable of beginning a new career as artists and to get closer with an open mind through an intelectual kind of eros! <ustine and =essim, poor at a certain moment regain their social position and get attracted to a new conspiracy! @altha9ar is born again after a depression that made him refuse his profession and mutilate his hands while thinking of comitting suicide! The position, the feelings and the destinies of the characters are twisted on and on, get cought in a vorte which could be associated with the Wheel of Fortune in the tarot! Gn the other side this womb knows constant rituals that time hasn>t changed like daily moslem prayer, fairs and religious festivals, the carnival or the hunt in the delta! Ale andria is the place of the magus that =arou9 visits or that of the brothels where little girls could be found, a place where both <ustine and ?ountolive live in and e perience terrifiying moments! <ustine searches for her daughter in those brothels! ?ountolive is driven by the spirit of the Grient! The places in Ale andria are frightening and they attract people to evil! These places can be associated with diform, mutilated bodiesH =arou9 has a rabbit-lip, ,apodistria has only one eye, =essim himself looses one eye and a finger, while ,lea looses an entire arm, 4eila>s face is destroyed by chicken po and <ustine>s by a loose eye-lid! @altha9ar looses his teeth and Semira has no nose! The physical body is a victim of degradation, accidents or moods and is forever unable of affection and fulfilment! 3n this fantastic strange world mirrors have important roles in the process of hiding things! Their reflection doubles reality through always false and changing perspectives they offer! ?irrors are big and small, heavily adorned with metal waves or blurred! The ones in which <ustine admires herself surprise by their baroque while ?elissa>s piece shows an infernal image! ,haracters admire themselves in the mirror, they identify themselves, they meet, they talk to each other! Arnauti discovers <ustine in the long mirror of a hotel through which he sends the first words! 3n a mirror he also reads a love message sent by <ustine to one of her admirers, a message which was imprinted backwards on a piece of blotting paper! 4ater =essim adresses to <ustine through the mirror when he wants to find out if she cheated on him or not with @altha9ar! C

3n many ways, Justine is only the overture of the quartet! And this holds true especially in the case of Clea , whose comple ity and importance is revealed only in the Ith ! 4ike "arley she is both an observer and a participant! She is addicted to horoscopes and fully believes in charms against evil! Justine marks the mature stage of "urrell - the novelist! After many searches and re-searches $ literary and personal or vice-versa & "urrell has found his way, his ends and his means! (is *multiplicity of mirrors+ technique, fully made use of here, brings him closest to the artistic e pression of his world awareness viewed in its many sidedness and infinite interaction of time and space $ "!,iocoi--op - Highlights., /00/, pag! 1' &! The Crd novel, Mountolive is entirely narrated in the Crd person by *an invisible narrator+ as "urrell calls him! Gther characters and other episodes such as -ursewarden>s suicide are sub7ect to more bewildering revolutions in significance and understanding as the Alexandria Quartet progresses and more versions of its action emerge! $ ;andall Stevenson - The British Novel since the Thirties, 3nstitutul European, 3asi, 611C, pag!/JJ&! ;esulting from the novel>s shifting perspectives and angles of vision, such constant revisions and reversals in the reader>s view of events create the impression of different sorts of truth thrown down one upon the other , and of characters who appear to be living on several different levels at once! $ ;! Stevenson - The British Novel.,611C, pag!/J% &! 3n Clea, the concluding part of The Alexandria Quartet, "arley returns to Ale andria now caught by war-fever! The conflagration has its effect on his circle - on =essim and <ustine, @altha9ar and ,lea, ?ountolive and -ombal - a clarity of purpose emerges as the story moves towards its cadence! $ www!audiobooksonline!com &! "arley>s relationship with ,lea tells again the legend of 3sis and Gsiris! The association with divinities is also suggested by ,lea>s father who sees in his daughter an immortal godess! 3nnocent and reserved ,lea represents a different type of femininity, other than <ustine>s, ?elissa>s or 4eila>s, a noble variant of generosity and harmony generated by art! $ -ia @rAn9eu in Justine, /00/, pag! C0J &! ,lea lives a modest life, without love and friends, dedicating her solitude to painting! When she was making <ustine>s portrait she had a short lesbian relationship with her, a necessary period for her to separate her heterose ual preferences! For some time she would find the right partner in "arley who will save her soul and life with his love, after her arm was in7ured by a harpoon and she got stuck at the bottom of the sea! The characters represent instances of the same destiny or variations on the same theme - that of the writer $ "arley, -ursewarden, Arnauti, @altha9ar &, of the seducer $ ,apodistria, -ombal, -ursewarden &, the pervert $ Scobie, @altha9ar, -ursewarden & or women in love $ <ustine, ?elisssa, ,lea, 4eila &!

;andall Stevenson also considers that the 6 st three volumes repeatedly resume *the same sub7ect+ from different angles they remain static, giving the impression that, as -ursewarden suggests, the Kuartet is standing above time and turning slowly on its own a is to comprehend the whole pattern! Gnly in the last volume does time flow again and the narrative seem to progress, its emotions released from the stagnant spell of Ale andria, *the capital of ?emory+ by the genuine love shared by ,lea and "arley! As "urrell e plains, The Alexandria Quartet contains *three sides of space and one of time+! The presence of three sides of space and one of time, perhaps does make it inevitable that a sense of place dominates over development of the time-based creatures who inhabit it, and that in consequence, as "urrell suggests, *only the city is real+! "urrell>s Ale andria is neither a faithful description of the actual city, nor it is a fantastic invention of the author>s, but a synthesis of many phisical and moral features put together by the author to serve his artistic purposesH that of achieving a convenient, generalising, colourful back-ground for his action! $ roza engleza !oderna si conte!"orana, Editura "idactica si -edagogica, @ucuresti, 61%2, pag! J11 &!The Alexandria Quartet is partly a spy story, a story of adventure and violent action in an e otic location! (e adds in his preface that his techniques are based on the Einsteinian idea of space and time as a four B dimensional continuum and designed *as a challenge to the serial form of the conventional novelH the time saturated novel of the day+! ?aria-Ana Tupan says that *in his Alexandria Quartet "urrell provides several accounts of the same events, the tetralogy giving the impression of a kaleidoscope turning on its own a is! The lu urious sensuousness of the language , mimetically reproducing the atmosphere of an Griental, lascivious city, even suggests that the characters are the pro7ections of Ale andria, that they might have assumed different identities in another place! From the realist multiplot novel, we have moved into a fictional tissue woven out of multiple points of view, whereby reality is deconstructed and identity destabili9ed!+ $ ?aria-Ana Tupan British Literature# An $verview, part 33, Editura Lniversitatii din @ucuresti, /00J, pag! /II &! =ot only is "urrell>s Ale andria so real that it envelopes you like a cloud of its own miasmas, but the people 8 even though we see them through comic distorting mirrors 8 are more real than real! The realest of all is the proverbial tart with a heart of gold! $ :enneth ;e roth Lawrence Durrell, www!bopsecrets!org &! For "urrell to show the multiple reality of this town dominated by discontinuity he develops an adequate techniqueH the prismatic reflection! The author emphasi9es the description of places and characters using alternative focali9ations, slightly variate repetitions, overlapping everything in a palimpsest structure!$ -! @rAn9eu in Justine, /00/, pag! C01 &! For "urrell to write means to distort without totally giving up the J

intrigue! (is story has a linear development, easy to follow even at a superficial reading! The dream is taking the place of narration and enlarges the immediate reality 7ust like the memories, the mirror reflection or the written te t do! The truth is shaping differently according to the way each hero pro7ects and interprets the revelations! Thus, the intersection of visions gives "urrell>s te t undetermined value of truth! 3n terms of logicsH neither true, nor false! This pathway opens une pectedly for the post-war novel at a time when impersonality and stylistic e periment didn>t fascinate anymore!

0! #!o(ra1&2 6& ))) roza engleza !oderna si conte!"orana, Editura "idactica si -edagogica, @ucuresti, 61%2M /& ,iocoi--op, "umitru - Highlights o% Modern British Literature, *4ucian @laga+ Lniversity -ress, Sibiu, /00/M C& "urrell, 4awrence - Justine, Editura -olirom, 3asi, /00/M I& "urrell, 4awrence - Balthazar, Editura -olirom, 3asi, /00CM J& "urrell, 4awrence - Mountolive, Editura -olirom, 3asi, /00CM %& "urrell, 4awrence - Clea, Editura -olirom, 3asi, /00CM 2& Stevenson, ;andall - The British Novel since the Thirties, 3nstitutul European, 3asi, 611CM '& Tupan, ?aria-Ana - British Literature# An $verview, part 33, Editura Lniversitatii din @ucuresti, /00JM WE@-S3TESH www!audiobooksonline!com www!bopsecrets!org

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