The magnificent final volume of one of the most widely acclaimed fictional masterpieces of the postwar era. Few books have been awaited as eagerly as Clea , the sensuous and electrically suspenseful novel that resolves the enigmas of the Alexandria Quartet. His style glows with the mineral deposits of many cultures. One of the most important works of our time has come to an end. A magnificent achievement.
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Preview — Clea by Lawrence Durrell. Clea Alexandria Quartet 4 by Lawrence Durrell. The magnificent final volume of one of the most widely acclaimed fictional masterpieces of the postwar era.
Few books have been awaited as eagerly as Clea , the sensuous and electrically suspenseful novel that resolves the enigmas of the Alexandria Quartet. That affair not only changes the lovers, it transforms the dead as well, revealing new layers of duplicity and desire, perversity and pathos in Lawrence Durrell's masterly construction.
His style glows with the mineral deposits of many cultures. One of the most important works of our time has come to an end. This rich, exciting fare is Durrell's finest writing style, a manner of writing few living authors can equal. A magnificent achievement. What Durrell has given us is well worth having. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published July 12th by Penguin Books first published More Details Original Title. Alexandria Quartet 4. Alexandria Egypt. Other Editions Friend Reviews.
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Not quite as strong, I thought, as the other three. It is set about seven years later. Balthasar arrives with information and writing from the late Pursewarden.
Many of the aps from the previous novels are filled in. Darley returns to Alexandria, reuniting Nessim with his daughter. He bumps into Clea and begins a romantic relationship with her. It is Clea and her relationship with Darley that takes centre stage. The Quartet seems to hang together as a result of this novel and the prose is still wonderful.
Darley is as short-sighted as ever when it comes to his romantic entanglements. The events of the war intertwine this novel and Alexandria is in the hands of the Free French. There are some neat comic touches; the late cross-dressing Scobie is now an unofficial saint and has his own feast day. All of the main participants take some sort of bow. Durrell indulges himself in all sorts of meditations covering art, the novel and creativity, set within the outstanding writing and the Freudian allusions.
The fragments from Pursewarden add a great deal and an edge of cynicism and weirdness. At the centre of it all though is the nature of love and more particularly how miserable it can make you! The whole thing is a look at modern civilisation and its decadence. I also think Durrell is looking at the nature of truth because he looks at events from several different angles and points of view making the reader question their original judgement. The Quartet is a great achievement and the prose so beautiful it defies description.
I enjoyed the first three slightly more than this one, but they stand alone as a whole. View all 5 comments. This Precious Image "Mountolive", the third volume in "The Alexandria Quartet", initially alienated me, but totally turned me around. It fell into place much more quickly, and the rewards came sooner as well.
Initially, I wondered whether it might be a grab bag of ideas and impressions stitched together as an afterthought to what might otherwise have constituted a trilogy. Even if it had been conceived of as This Precious Image "Mountolive", the third volume in "The Alexandria Quartet", initially alienated me, but totally turned me around. Even if it had been conceived of as a trilogy, "Clea" fits in neatly. It is set some years later, both during and after the war. Whereas some of the relationships in the earlier volumes were still jostling around with the heat, by now they have started to settle.
People have matured. They've worked out what they're seeking after. They've started to find it. Some, however, have moved on or shuffled off this mortal coil. Most importantly, for the narrator Darley, he's now remote enough from the original events that he has lost some of his timidness, he has emerged with a perspective or at least a composite of multiple perspectives , he has realised that he is ready to write about these events, and he has decided what form his project should take: "It had been so long in forming inside me, this precious image Although Darley feels that "the whole universe had given me a nudge", it's Clea who has seen what the universe had in store for him and, indeed, for herself: "As for you, wise one, I have a feeling that you too perhaps have stepped across the threshold into the kingdom of your imagination, to take possession of it once and for all.
It's also the most linear, to the extent that it even hints at a happy ending. However, its concerns seem to revolve around the questions: what does it mean to live? What does it mean to love? What does it mean to be an artist? What does the imagination have to do with the truth? In concepts if not necessarily language that evoke Hegel, the writer Pursewarden theorises: "The so-called act of living is really an act of the imagination. The world - which we always visualise as 'the outside World' - yields only to self-exploration!
By the same token, if we explore the outside world, we will also understand ourselves better. Hence, by understanding the city, we will understand its inhabitants. And vice versa. Pursewarden's Inkling of the Truth Pursewarden often seems to be the vehicle by which Durrell allows Darley to acquire wisdom, without necessarily realising the immediate or abstract significance of what is happening before his very eyes.
Part of the novel's metafiction involves Darley reading Pursewarden's correspondence, journals and draft fiction and verse: "Seeing Pursewarden thus, for the first time, I saw that through his work he had been seeking for the very tenderness of logic itself, of the Way Things Are; not the logic of syllogism or the tidemarks of the emotions, but the real essence of fact-finding, the naked truth, the Inkling But to the same end!
Each quality informs the other. Meddling with Time Pursewarden makes a similar point in relation to Proust: "Time is the catch! Space is a concrete idea, but Time is abstract In the scar tissue of Proust's great poem you see that so clearly; his work is the great academy of the time-consciousness. But being unwilling to mobilise the meaning of time he was driven to fall back on memory, the ancestor of hope! But being a Jew he had hope - and with Hope comes the irresistible desire to meddle.
Yet, it also suggests that Proust was prone to hope and meddle, presumably in relation to the future. Perhaps, then, Pursewarden in contrast to Proust focuses more on the present than either the past or the future.
The present is the only facet of Time that can be immediately influenced and mobilised by Man. Yet Pursewarden suggests that, in trying to mobilise the progress of Time into the future, this other manifestation of Man "we Celts" has the opposite problem to the Jewish predicament of hopefulness: "We Celts mate with despair out of which alone grows laughter and the desperate romance of the eternally hopeless.
We hunt the unattainable, and for us there is only a search unending. The past seems to shape both the present and the future: "It was indeed another island - I suppose the past always is.
Clea – Lawrence Durrell
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By birth he was a Greek Jew. His parents had come from Corfu, and so Italian was his first language. He spoke Greek, Arabic and English fluently. Obviously, then, a typical citizen of Alexandria, and so ideally equipped to answer a question that had been bothering me for several years. As soon as I decently could I asked, "Is the Alexandria of Lawrence Durrell's novels anything like the city you remember? But the Alexandria of Mr. Durrell's powerful imagination will always be far more real to thousands of readers than the actual Mediterranean port, a dream city created by art and poetic language that shimmers on the desert horizon of contemporary fiction like an exotic oasis, repulsive and yet fascinating, reeking of languorous lusts and dreary depravities.
It is impossible to discuss this fourth volume in Durrell's Alexandria Quartet Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive apart from It is impossible to discuss this fourth volume in Durrell's Alexandria Quartet Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive apart from the others, as it would be difficult to read it without having read the others. But the initiated will find themselves happily engulfed once more from the opening sentences. The first three novels encompassed the same material and time, with sundry plots and counterplots of both a personal and a political nature in the period leading up to World War II.
Like all young men I set out to be a genius, but mercifully laughter intervened. Wow, I didn't expect such a sudden dislike. Allow me to retreat to my hutch to scratch together a review. Not a lot of plot but great prose, almost Wolfean. A good example of mid-century British writing describing friends and experiences in an Alexandria that no longer exists. Lawrence Durrell. The magnificent final volume of one of the most widely acclaimed fictional masterpieces of the postwar era.