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THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET

Lawrence Durrell

  • Original Title: THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET
  • Publication date: December 1957
  • Publisher: FABER & FABER
  • Country: GB
  • 253 print pages
  • Classic

Information

  • Epoch: Historical
  • Time Period: 20th century
  • Location setting: Egypt
  • Themes: FAMILY, Adultery, PEOPLE facing the extraordinary, Manipulation, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, Violence, Power, War and other conflicts, LOVE / HATE, Passion, Jealousy, Sex

Pitch

THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET is at heart a sensuous evocation of wartime Alexandria. In this world of corrupt glamour, L. G. Darley attempts to reconcile himself to the end of his affair with the dark, passionate Justine Hosnani - setting alight an exploration of sexual and political intrigue the author described as 'an investigation of modern love'.

Comments

Book 1, JUSTINE, was adapted into the film of the same name in 1969, directed by George Cukor and Joseph Strick, and starring Anouk Aimée and Dirk Bogarde

High profile relaunch of JUSTINE with an introduction by Andre Aciman in July 2020 (Durrell's other titles to follow next year).

Lawrence Durrell (1912 - 1990) was an expatriate British novelist, poet, dramatist, and travel writer. He was the eldest brother of naturalist and writer Gerald Durrell. His most famous work is THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET, a tetralogy published between 1957 and 1960. The best-known novel in the series is the first, JUSTINE. By the end of the century, he was a bestselling author and one of the most celebrated writers in England.

Summary

Book 1: JUSTINE

Rediscover one of the twentieth century's greatest romances: a seductive tale of four tangled lovers in wartime Egypt.

" Walking slowly home through the dark avenue of trees, tasting the brackish harbour wind, I remembered Justine saying harshly as she lay in bed: 'We use each other like axes to cut down the ones we really love'. "

Alexandria: the great winepress of love. Trams, palm trees, and watermelon stalls lie honey-bathed in sunlight; in darkened bedrooms, sweaty lovers unfurl. But in a world trembling on the brink of war, passion and death are inextricable. When a penniless Anglo-Irish schoolteacher begins an affair with Justine - a married Egyptian lady of unparalleled glamour - their partners, Melissa and Nessim, are sucked into a whirlpool of jealousy and violence.

One of the twentieth century's greatest romances, rich in political and sexual intrigue, Lawrence Durrell's scandalous 'investigation of modern love' set the world alight in 1957 and it burns just as brightly today.

Books 2 to 4
Kirkus review of book 1
Kirkus review of book 2
Kirkus review of book 3
Kirkus review of book 4

go further

  • Author’s biography

    Lawrence Durrell (1912 - 1990) was an expatriate British novelist, poet, dramatist, and travel writer. He was the eldest brother of naturalist and writer Gerald Durrell. His most famous work is THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET, a tetralogy published between 1957 and 1960. The best-known novel in the series is the first, JUSTINE. Beginning in 1974, he published THE AVIGNON QUINTET. The first of these novels, MONSIEUR, OR THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1974. The middle novel, CONSTANCE, OR SOLITARY PRACTICES, was nominated for the 1982 Booker Prize. By the end of the century, he was a bestselling author and one of the most celebrated writers in England. Durrell supported his writing by working for many years in the Foreign Service of the British government. His sojourns in various places during and after World War II (such as his time in Alexandria, Egypt) inspired much of his work.