And at last, the final volume of The Alexandria Quartet reviewed for your pleasure . In Clea () we finally gain a true sequel to the story thus. As soon as I decently could I asked, “Is the Alexandria of Lawrence Durrell’s ” Clea” takes up the same group again in a later period, World War II, and thus is a . Clea (Alexandria Quartet) [Lawrence Durrell] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The magnificent final volume of one of the most widely.
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There once was a man who wrote about the things that other people wrote. Oh, how he loved to celebrate his writers.
Fiction is so overrated: Clea by Lawrence Durrell
He wanted them to succeed. He wanted them to be heroic in their work and in life. Something about their success made him feel hopeful about the world and himself. I light a lamp and limp about, thinking coea my friends—of Justine and Nessim, of Melissa and Balthazar.
I return link by link along the iron chains of memory to the city which we inhabited so briefly together: I have had to durrwll so far away from it in order to understand it all! I see that none of us is properly to be judged for what happened in the past. It is the city which should be judged though we, its children, must pay the price. I love the ache in the language here, the yearning to remember in drrell to understand the conflicts that took place in this mystical city.
They were real conflicts, with consequences: These lines establish an alluring tension, a sense that love in the Egyptian city of Alexandria is a gauntlet, a test of spirit attempted together by these four friends. A few pages later, Durrell places his heroic friends in a space without time, where their existence and his comes to depend on memory:. I am thinking back durreell the time when for the four durrelll us the known world hardly existed; days became simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time, of acting, of living out the topical.
A tide of meaningless affairs nosing along the dead level of things, entering no climate, leading us nowhere, demanding of us nothing but the impossible—that we should be. I read these early pages and adored them. I adored where I thought these novels would go.
I thought I had found another pure and wonderful reading experience. I so wanted that to durrelll. I came to Durrell via Henry Miller, an author who stands out for causing me more personal and artistic trouble than any other. When I think about his effect on xlea as a writer I am reminded of an anecdote lawrencf Plato I read back when I was in college: They corresponded for decades, starting inwhen Durrell, pulled in by Miller in his early twenties like me after reading Tropic of Cancerwrote to him.
They hit it off, and Miller came to admire Durrell very much, too.
Spoiler, Or, A Reckoning with Sentimental Habits By Way of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet
Miller led me to Durrell, which led to this essay. I planned to celebrate what I had heard was an amazing series of books, and I loved the first, but then, halfway through the second, I got some bad news via email: Durrell was not well-liked.
This came as a surprise. So I looked into this Durrell stuff. The results were not good. In a bad mood, I called my editor. He said to keep writing.
He said to tell it like it happened. I had so wanted a way out of this. A lawrencw of assignment. Kill the piece and move on.
Clea – Lawrence Durrell
Lawrfnce the proof against him had been right there in the free, online archives of The New York Times all along. My anger made me ask why was I writing literary criticism in the first place. So much literary criticism is false and impersonal, and I feared this aspect of it. Artists are supposedly meant to be quirky, delicate, or raging, in order to succeed as profitable personalities.
I could hear Miller laughing at laweence mistake in the tone of a grand artiste. I used to read in order to let all manner of books have their way with me. In private, of course. Reading would be my wholesome fuel.
Clea: Lawrence Durrell « Amitav Ghosh
I would write madly and read widely, but not too much, lest I disturb the growth of my inner, bookish cool. It felt like my literary career was a fairly delicate thing to cultivate properly.
I found the whole idea pretty damn charming. I consoled myself with the thought that during this spell of disappointment the least I could do to participate in literary culture a terrible phrase was to try and review some books. Certain pieces were published and it did make me feel involvedas they say. But there was one major side-effect: I could no longer merely read and let a book drift into me.
Now I read with the intent to opine, worrying about the very real possibility of being exposed for a rube.
I had done a thoughtless thing and upset that fairly delicate process I had been tending to. I had given up for a while on romance, literature, and Art. Like a fallen man, I punished myself with some Samuel Johnson:. Criticism is a study by which men grow important and formidable at a very small expense. The power of invention has been conferred by nature upon few, and the labor of learning those sciences, which may by mere labor be obtained, is too great to be willingly endured; but every man can exert such judgment as he has upon the works of others; and he whom nature has made weak, and idleness keeps ignorant, may yet support his vanity by the name of a critic.
I hope it will give comfort to great numbers who are passing through the world in obscurity, when I inform them how easily distinction may be obtained. All the other powers of literature are coy and haughty, they must be long courted, and at last are not always gained; but Criticism is a goddess easy of access and forward of advance, who will meet the slow, and encourage the timorous; the want of meaning she supplies with words, and the want of spirit she recompenses with malignity.
I even found a quality moment of self-flagellation in the Quartet. And, befitting the manner of my high, inner-drama, I felt the blow. Perfect for a sort of compromise-assignment to get me back on track. As I started reading, I liked the fantasy of the artist that Durrell put on display. Those early lines were so heavy.
It raised questions about the risks Durrell was taking. Would this book be a confession? I started to write, to please that older vision of myself as writer. An early draft of this essay includes these lines:.
I adore something about these books. These books are great in a way that books will not be great anymore. I connect them to my past worship of Henry Miller, and I am glad to have found the books that killed the god who wrote the gospels of a good part of my youth.
I know these comments must sound a bit wild. I adore Justine because it is proudly romantic and poetic. Each sentence and page builds upon the other to prove they could not have been written any other way. Realizing this stunned me. It seemed both vaguely and firmly true. But it seemed accurate: Just as you or I would be different if interfered with by a slight switch in our DNA. The book would be wholly different. It would not live as art.
But the ugly accusations against Durrell were there in the Times: My romantic sense of purpose was outraged, and my reading had been tainted. Were these things true? If so, would I see evidence between the lines of the Quartet? I kept reading, but not in the same way as I had started out.
I was able to read for a while and forget, but later, more than once, unable to forget the accusations, I saw no point in finishing the books. Over the course of the books, Darley learns an immensely hard lesson about love.
He grows from a fierce romantic into someone else, due to a lot of deep pain and lost love. It helped because it showed in double-barrel fashion that worship is dangerous.
However, it has not stopped my sentimental hope—equally dangerous—that one day I will again enjoy another pure reading experience. I imagine it will have to be one based on a calculated ignorance, because, stubbornly, I still do not want to confess that I should have seen it coming and that authors are just people. There must be at least a few artistic gods to worship. I want to know that there will be celebrations to come. But that would only serve the cold, impersonal work of criticism.
Justine is the most written of the four books and thus contains much that is beautiful. It may be entirely dead as a style with any contemporary power. It is unapologetically poetic and romantic. It also has a broad sympathy and humility pocked with racist and sexist commentary.
Yet I love books with mentors, and the idea of a city being a mentor is an old but a wonderful one.