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Clea (Alexandria Quartet) Paperback – July 12, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0140153224 ISBN-10: 0140153225 Edition: Reissue

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Product Details

  • Series: Alexandria Quartet
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (July 12, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140153225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140153224
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #663,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Born in Jalandhar, British India, in 1912 to Indian-born British colonials, Lawrence Durrell was a critically hailed and beloved novelist, poet, humorist, and travel writer best known for the Alexandria Quartet novels, which were ranked by the Modern Library as among the greatest works of English literature in the twentieth century. A passionate and dedicated writer from an early age, Durrell’s prolific career also included the groundbreaking Avignon Quintet, whose first novel, Monsieur (1974), won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and whose third novel, Constance (1982), was nominated for the Booker Prize. He also penned the celebrated travel memoir Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (1957), which won the Duff Cooper Prize. Durrell corresponded with author Henry Miller for forty-five years, and Miller influenced much of his early work, including a provocative and controversial novel, The Black Book (1938). Durrell died in France in 1990. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

From AudioFile

[Editor's Note: The following is a combined review with JUSTINE, MOUNTOLIVE, and BALTHAZAR.]--The four linked novels that comprise English author Lawrence Durrell's masterpiece, THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET, are set in Alexandria, Egypt, around the time of WWII. The four novels explore the city's polyglot society, full of intrigue, mystery, and sensuality, telling essentially the same story from different points of view. JUSTINE focuses on the beautiful Jewish wife of a wealthy Copt. Her story is told by Darley, her English lover. In BALTHAZAR, Darley reconsiders and retells the story he told in Justine, using information from a mysterious new character, Balthazar. In MOUNTOLIVE, as war begins to loom, British Ambassador David Mountolive enters the intrigues of the interwoven community of characters. In CLEA, Darley returns to a war-fevered Alexandria as the stories of the many characters move toward conclusion. Narrator Nigel Anthony provides a brilliant reading, keeping the variety of voices--English, French, Egyptian--distinct throughout. He offers a one-man play, conveying the passions, disappointments, and triumphs of the complex cast. The classical music interludes that delineate sections of this beautifully produced and packaged set help transport the listener to back- streets of Alexandria. R.E.K. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Born in Jalandhar, British India, in 1912 to Indian-born British colonials, Lawrence Durrell was a critically hailed and beloved novelist, poet, humorist, and travel writer best known for the Alexandria Quartet novels, which were ranked by the Modern Library as among the greatest works of English literature in the twentieth century. A passionate and dedicated writer from an early age, Durrell's prolific career also included the groundbreaking Avignon Quintet, whose first novel, Monsieur (1974), won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and whose third novel, Constance (1982), was nominated for the Booker Prize. He also penned the celebrated travel memoir Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (1957), which won the Duff Cooper Prize. Durrell corresponded with author Henry Miller for forty-five years, and Miller influenced much of his early work, including a provocative and controversial novel, The Black Book (1938). Durrell died in France in 1990.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Colleen Davenport on May 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
Durrell further explores not only another love for Darley, but what art is and what it ought to be. Of course, descriptions are lush. One can almost hear hear the music of the closing festival and the beating of its drums.
Clea and Darley's relationship is embroidered over a wartime background. Durrell uses their beautiful private island experiences to echo and foreshadow the rise and fall of this relationship.
And we see how Clea develops as an artist. We are given Pursewarden's posthumous discourse on the philosophy of art. He gives is a lot to think about.
Sometimes I think that Durrell is Pursewarden, and then I wonder if he is making fun of himself in the Darley character. And in reality I find that I wish I could meet and know Durrell.
Clea is another must read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
[NOTE: This review is intended for people who have read at least the first three volumes of THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET. I do not recommend starting the series with CLEA, and these notes will not be helpful to those that do.]

Lawrence Durrell set himself a huge challenge in his ALEXANDRIA QUARTET: three volumes looking at the same events from different angles, and a fourth that would extend the story forward in time; he intended it as an analogy to the three dimensions of space and the one of time. I had found it a little difficult to get into the first volume, JUSTINE, because the combination of the almost incestuous doings of a cosmopolitan coterie in Alexandria in the late 1930s, coupled with Durrell's perfumed prose, was too exotic a cocktail for me at first. But by the end of the first volume, I was wanting more, and read its successors, BALTHAZAR and especially MOUNTOLIVE, with increasing enjoyment. There only remained this fourth novel, CLEA, to complete the story and make a fitting capstone to the whole impressive edifice. Unfortunately, I feel it fails to live up to the challenge.

After the clarity of the third-person narrative of MOUNTOLIVE, it was a shock to return to the author's own voice once again -- or rather that of Darley, as the writer calls himself in the novels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steiner VINE VOICE on September 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
Durrell's final novel of his Alexandria Quartet returns the narrative back to Darley, the narrator of Justine, and the result is somewhat mixed. On the one hand, it is actually relieving that Durrell kicks the time forward in this sequel, instead of continuing to tighten and twist the narrative thread in another direction as he does in the previous three novels. However, returning the narrative voice back to Darley also has the effect of blinding our perspective instead of expanding it. Although it is interesting to return to the foundation, the result stifles Durrell's ability to engage with his characters in a truly different register. Although the Alexander Quartet is ultimately an excellent achievement, it also fails to live up to the intended scope of the project.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. L Wilson on January 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am numbed, bedazzled, and incredibly sad to have finished this exquisite world Durrell has created. Must rank with "Memoirs of Hadrian" by Marguarite Yourcenar, as one of the very best things I have ever read. Spellbinding is a good word, for his words truly weave a spell within the mind. "Clea", like all the rest, was stunning. Is there something about delta cities?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Certain Bibliophile on January 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
"Clea," the fourth volume of Lawrence Durrell's "Alexandria Quartet," opens with several years having passed since the events of the first three volumes. Darley, the narrator, is living on a Greek island with the six-year-old illegitimate daughter Nessim fathered with Melissa. After running into Balthazar and his Inter-Linear, he eventually heads off for Alexandria again with the child, full of both trepidation and anticipation about the past and the people he knew there.

When Darley arrives in Alexandria, almost immediately he runs into his old artist friend Clea, and consummates a formerly Plutonic relationship, now that their circle of friends is unencumbered by the presence of Melissa, who has died, and Justine, who is under house arrest for the duration of the novel. More than in any of the others, this novel has several meta-fictional aspects: meditations on art, creativity, and the novel (especially as revealed with Pursewarden's letters), and some of Clea's ideas about painting. All of this is, as always in this tetralogy, tied in beautifully with Balthazar's earlier analyses shot throughout the Inter-Linear.

Reading these four novels has been one of the more powerful set of experiences that I have recently had. Most readers will probably not enjoy this; it's not action-packed and full of adventure. But if you admire writing that tries to capture the uniqueness of inner coruscating experience, the complexities of passion and romantic relationships, and realizes the inability to tell "the whole story," even after nearly one thousand pages of trying, I hope you will appreciate this as much as I did. As I said in my review of "Mountolive," I have simply run out of things to say about how much I loved this. Sometimes admiration must finish itself off in silence.
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