‘A city becomes a world when one loves one of its inhabitants.’
The Alexandria Quartet, published between 1957 and 1960, is one of the great literary epics of the 20th century – an enormous critical and commercial success at the time, it continues to seduce readers nearly five decades on. Justine, the first volume, is a sensuous and haunting story of passion and loss, set on the eve of the Second World War.
From self-imposed exile on a Greek island, Darley, an impoverished writer, recalls his time in Alexandria and his affair with the enigmatic Justine, and explores the tangled web of their relationships.
Within its vast scope, the novel is peopled by memorable characters, from Justine’s patient husband, the wealthy Nessim, and Darley’s lover Melissa to others from their disparate circle of Egyptians and expatriates: the inquisitive barber Mnemjian, the English writer Pursewarden and the eccentric Scobie, a retired Lieutenant-Commander who finds himself working for the Egyptian vice squad.
Political and sexual intrigue draw them all ever deeper into the corruption that lurks behind the city’s facade of glamour. Durrell richly evokes the atmosphere of Alexandria where the Mediterranean meets the Middle East: the heat and dust of the markets and mosques, duck shooting on Lake Mareotis, and the faded beauty of the Corniche. The author himself described the novel as ‘an investigation of modern love’, and based the character of Justine on his second wife, Eve Cohen. Exotic, impassioned and lyrical, Justine is a truly intoxicating book, both a love story and a portrait of a vanished world.
This edition features Durrell’s 1962 preface, and period photographs accompany his poetic realisation of the city.
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Review by firstname.lastname@example.org on 29th Dec 2012
"What a beautiful edition to discover Durrell's modern classic. I am usually not a fan of photographs for illustrations rather than drawings, but I must say that this edition has totally changed my op..." [read more]
Review by plwagstaff on 20th Jul 2012
"This quartet is certainly one of the most under appreciated works of English literature. Skilfully written, it bears L. Durrell's classic hallmark of plot narrative - namely a constant twisting and tu..." [read more]