The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell

This great sweep of Durrell’s quartet is almost impossible to describe, but being Goobes, we are going to give it a shot!

Tis characters and the feeling of bing at wartime Alexandria are so perfect that you can almost smell and taste the perfume on Justine’s neck, hear the prayers from the mosques and smell the sand stained blood of camels butchered in the streets.

Here lie the poets and prostitutes, diplomats and gun runners. There is a plethora of scenes of lust and love and violence angst and despair.

The characters change as the story unfolds and then recoils upon itself again. We are as confused as the characters themselves and never find ourselves in a position where we understand events before they do. Myriad scenes tumble upon each other; a bird shoot on Lake Mareotis, the masquede ball, the strange death of Pursewarden, the dreadful death of Narouz. Across four volumes Durrell seldom puts a foot wrong and while his sonorous prose is not to everyone’s taste, nobody can deny that this is certainly an under rated classic of the twentieth century.

After the grim years of the Second World War and the grey, slow grind of the 1950s, the novel must have burst upon literary Europe like a banshee streaking across the sky giving enlightenment at a time of darkness.

Essential book for anyone who considers themselves well-read.

Enjoy!

The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell

The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell

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Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair

This is a story of a woman lost between two men (Quelle Horreur!), a husband and a lover, told from the lover’s point of view. The plot is very dramatic and the characters are unwittingly and wittingly involved in sadly one of the most common human predicaments – animalistic urges.

Greene’s style is absolutely delicious. There is not a single word or an activity wasted, and the tale is beautifully and compellingly told. This book is an amazing example of the finest literary composition, and and at times the understated manner in which these three character’s psychologies play together to enmesh the hearts of two men and the life of the woman is just plain and simply beautiful. This is also a spiritual novel, asking questions and at the same time attempting answers. And throughout, there is a strong sense of realism that one does not normally find in most romantic novels.

The characters seem to be real persons, whose lives are not dramatic or dramatized, but related in all their smallness, their dissatisfaction, their quest for understanding, and that inexplicable yearning for something more. This small book is extremely satisfying and haunting read. Anyone planning to write fiction, particularly romance (not that silly faffy fluffy titillating romance, but something meaningful), should become acquainted with this novel. It tells so much so very well. Enjoy!

Graham Greene's The End of the Affair

Anthony Burgess a Clock work orange

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is a engaging, disturbing, and thought provoking book that was first published in 1962. This is a powerful piece of literature today as it was back then.

A Clockwork Orange satirizes extreme political systems that are based on opposing models of the perfectibility or incorrigibility of humanity. Written in a futuristic vocabulary invented by Burgess, in part by adaptation of Russian words, it was his most original and best-known work.

Set in a dismal dystopia, it is the first-person narrative of Alex, the protagonist, who has a passion for classical music and is a member of a vicious teenage gang that commits random acts of brutality. Alex is almost innocently committing violent crimes with his friends for he is not trying to be bad, he just is. He likes violence, and that’s the way he is.

Alex’s gang has a mutiny and sets a stage for him to be arrested by the police, Alex is sentenced to 14 years in prison. But then the opportunity to change presents itself to Alex – in the form of state-sponsored psychological rehabilitation for his aberrant behavior involving mind altering visual therapy with audio background of his favorite Beethoven (EGAD!) and he can’t help but take the offer. How could it be?

Alex is transformed through the behavioral conditioning into a model citizen, but his taming also leaves him defenseless and incapable of listening to classical music or performing acts of violence…

A Clock work orange first came out in the 60s, and the American version lacked the last and 21st chapter from the original story. When it was republished, the book had the 21st chapter. With the last chapter or without it, the book will have an entirely different feel to it. The old copy represents the horrible realization that bad minds are always bad and then the newer version (improved American edition?) leaves the reader with hope.

Hope for Alex, and hope for oneself. Change is possible, the book says, no matter what sort of person you are.

Is being good truly good if it is not by choice? Is it good to be bad, if that is what one chooses?

A Clockwork Orange is truly a great work, one that will appeal to people for different reasons and affect them in completely different ways. But it will affect them. A must read for any thinking mind.

Anthony Burgess a Clock work orange