DURRELL, Lawrence. The Alexandria Quartet: Justine; Balthazar; Mountolive and Clea.
(Paris): Editions Correa, 1957 – 1960. First French edition’s. Octavo. Four volumes. 278, 294, 410 and 358 pages. Preface to Justine by Henry Miller. A tetralogy of novels translated from the English by Roger Giroux, Published between 1957 and 1960 the novels were a critical and commercial success. The first three books, Justine, Balthazar and Clea present three perspectives on a single set of events and characters in Alexandria, Egypt, before and during the Second World War. The fourth book, Mountolive is set six years later. As Durrell explains in his preface to Balthazar, the four novels are an exploration of relativity and the notions of continuum and subject–object relation, with modern love as the theme. The Quartet’s first three books offer the same sequence of events through several points of view, allowing individual perspectives of a single set of events. The fourth book shows change over time. In a 1959 Paris Review interview, Durrell described the ideas behind the Quartet in terms of a convergence of Eastern and Western metaphysics, based on Einstein’s overturning of the old view of the material universe, and Freud’s doing the same for the concept of stable personalities, yielding a new concept of reality. All four volumes are in very good condition in uniform yellow wrappers.
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