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Clea by Lawrence Durrell
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Clea (original 1960; edition 1960)

by Lawrence Durrell (Author)

Series: Alexandria Quartet (4)

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1,5112112,174 (3.93)36
'I knew that Clea would share everything with me, withholding nothing - not even the look of complicity which women reserve only for their mirrors.' In Clea, the concluding part of The Alexandria Quartet, Darley returns to Alexandria now caught by war-fever. The conflagration has its effect on his circle - on Nessim and Justine, Balthazar and Clea, Mountolive and Pombal - and a clarity of purpose emerges as the story moves towards its cadence.… (more)
Member:TyroPrate
Title:Clea
Authors:Lawrence Durrell (Author)
Info:Faber & Faber (1960), 287 pages
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Clea by Lawrence Durrell (1960)

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» See also 36 mentions

English (19)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (21)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
See my reflection on this book and the others in the Alexandria Quartet on Substack: https://robertboydskipper.substack.com/p/clealawrence-durrell ( )
  skippersan | Jun 9, 2024 |
My first reading of “The Alexandria Quartet” has now concluded. A second reading is inevitable. That said, I was mostly disappointed in Clea, the last volume in the series. It’s hard to offer a meaningful review of the fourth book in a four-book set since it can’t really stand on its own without some knowledge of the first three volumes. Clea takes place a number of years after the “action” of the first three volumes and ties up loose ends, revisits (most) minor characters to see what has become of them, and creates a meaningful and worthy cap to a great achievement. There are, to be sure, shocks and surprises, and further developments: much of this volume is given over to Darley’s relationship with Clea. And to my surprise, how Durrell chooses to leave the characters works far better than I anticipated. My greatest disappointment is the writing itself. Clea contains some wonderful passages but the first two volumes far exceeded the last two in sheer enjoyment of the writing. I found the first book (Justine) exceptional. Balthazar, volume 2, less so but still a remarkable achievement. Mountolive, volume 3, even less felicitous and now Clea, least of all. One cannot maintain the white hot degree of invention through four volumes, I suppose. On balance, I think the Quartet is an extraordinary achievement and I know I will return again and hopefully again after that: it will be impossible not to. ( )
  Gypsy_Boy | Aug 24, 2023 |
This is the final book in the Alexandria Quartet. As the story opens, Darley is returning to Alexandria at the beginning of World War II. The narrative focuses on the relationship between Darley and Clea, characters introduced in earlier books. Darley was the protagonist of book one (Justine), and Clea has been a minor character up to this point. The storyline between Darley and Clea is broken by excerpts from Pursewarden’s journal. He has influenced events throughout the quartet. We learn about his views on the nature of art and the artist, along with the reason for his prior actions.

This set is character-driven. The sights and sounds of a past Alexandria are featured prominently. The writing is beautiful, and I have gotten used to Durrell’s style over the course of the four books. I appreciate it more now than I did at first. It is a fitting conclusion that relates what happened to all the main characters we have come to know and love.

This is my second favorite of the set. I enjoyed the final two books the most. It is really a single work told in four parts. None of the four would stand alone very well. After finishing, I appreciate the entire work more than I did while reading the individual installments. It has taken me quite a long while to get through all the books (this is a work that should not be rushed through) but am glad I took the time to read it. ( )
  Castlelass | Dec 26, 2022 |
World War II has begun and Darley returns to Alexandria in wartime. He resumes the narrative, but this time he adopts the lighter chronological approach of the third book. It's a happy marriage of the two styles as he reunites with friends and the city, and most especially with Clea. She has been an interesting peripheral figure up to now, liable to be someone's love interest but stubbornly resistant to the role. A confidante mostly, a sounding board but never really a source of advice, remaining aloof and devoted to her art. She would have received less of my attention to now if her name wasn't attached to this fourth novel of the quartet. Here she becomes catalyst, as Darley works through relinquishing the scars that Alexandria and his experiences there left etched on his memory.

Pursewarden's journal interrupts the flow of the story, but it is a brilliant metatextual piece where it seems like Durrell rather than the character who is speaking to the value and place of art and the artist. He positions it next to religion as a partner in healing the psyche, and explains the oblique, slanted messages that it delivers as a gateway for providing the reader a means to discover universal truths. The reader should not become too caught up in the vessel's quality but try to see through it as through a telescope to the great beyond that the author is working to forge passage to. Ultimately this quartet was Pursewarden's story, its central figure, and the realization of art its central theme. There is a price to be paid for achieving it, now or later, but a sweetness in the prize. ( )
  Cecrow | Jul 6, 2021 |
The Alexandria Quartet is a treasure trove of characters and locations, emotions and relationships, history and plot. Above all is the language itself - glorious. A tough read but worth it. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Dec 4, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lawrence Durrellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Morris, JanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The Primary and most beautiful of Nature's qualities is motion, which agitates her at all times, but this motion is simply the perpetual consequence of crimes, it is conserved by means of crimes alone.
D.A.F. de Sade
Dedication
To
MY FATHER
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The oranges were more plentiful than usual that year.
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The most tender, the most tragic of illusions is perhaps to believe that our actions can add or subtract from the total quantity of good and evil in the world.
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'I knew that Clea would share everything with me, withholding nothing - not even the look of complicity which women reserve only for their mirrors.' In Clea, the concluding part of The Alexandria Quartet, Darley returns to Alexandria now caught by war-fever. The conflagration has its effect on his circle - on Nessim and Justine, Balthazar and Clea, Mountolive and Pombal - and a clarity of purpose emerges as the story moves towards its cadence.

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