The intrigues of Justine and Balthazar multiply and deepen in the third volume of the Alexandria Quartet, giving us a novel of labyrinthine intricacy and mesmerizing beauty.
In the first two novels of this profoundly innovative masterpiece, Lawrence Durrell explored two sides of a romantic quadrangle involving several inhabitants of prewar Alexandria. Now that geometry is seen from a startling new angle—through the clinical eye of a British diplomat, for whom love is only another form of statecraft. Like its predecessors, Mountolive is a novel of vertiginous disclosures, in which the betrayer and the betrayed share secret alliances and an adulterous marriage turns out to be a vehicle for the explosive passions of the modern Middle East.
“Durrell is almost without peer in conveying atmosphere and mood. Even if his Alexandria never existed on this earth, it is now as real as Hawthorne’s Rome, Proust’s Paris, Loti’s Constantinople. . . . Mountolive is dazzlingly cohesive, beautifully controlled from beginning to end.”—Saturday Review
“A work of splendid craft and troubling veracity.”—The New York Times
“Mountolive has vivid imagery and scenes of ghastly hilarity. . . . Readers will be sharply aware that they are encountering an acute intelligence pursuing a grand design.”—TIME
The third in Durrell's tetralogy, set in Alexandria in the 1930's and already preceded by the fascinating Justine and Balthazar, this is the most exciting from the plot point of view (actually, the others had no plots). Mountolive is British Ambassador to Egypt and it is through his eyes and the eyes of various of his friends, both British and Egyptian, that we are shown the actual facts of the political and religious intrigue that has been motivating the Hosnani family - toward which Balthazar and the "author" of Justine have been groping. This novel stands well by itself as a good and exceptionally well written book, contrasting the elemental with the suave in a situation with international implications. It should be a much easier book for the general public than the earlier ones, and much more popular (it's the ??book-of-the -Month Club selection for April). In relation to the other two books, however, it is far less dazzling in style; using a more naturalistic, conventional narrative form to relate the "facts" and "realities" of the case, it sacrifices the extraordinarily effective impressionistic technique; and in its final meaning, though essential to the tetralogy, it is more superficial- as facts often are. All of this is, I am sure, completely intentional on Durrell's part and is a conscious step in his overall plan. As it now stands, the work is an impressive, exacting and exciting study of the many faces of truth, with the varieties of love as a major secondary theme against which to test the first. (Kirkus Reviews)
Series: Alexandria Quartet
For Ages: 18+ years old
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 1st December 1991
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.68 x 13.34
Weight (kg): 0.22
Edition Type: New edition