- Taschenbuch: 320 Seiten
- Verlag: Penguin Books; Auflage: Reprint (12. Juli 1991)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0140153209
- ISBN-13: 978-0140153200
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 12,8 x 2,2 x 19,7 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 1 Kundenrezension
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 367.291 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Mountolive (Alexandria Quartet) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 12. Juli 1991
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The intrigues of "Justine" and "Balthazar" multiply and deepen in this third volume of "The Alexandria Quartet".
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
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.
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Mountolive is an Englishman working with the Foreign Service who comes to know his Dionysian self in the humidity and turmoil of early 20th century Egypt. He falls in love with his married hostess, and this relationship leaves him capable of loving only one woman and one place. The other notable couples portray a stunning array of what drives people toward love. A desire for power drives Justine and Nessim together as it does much more subtlely in the vignette about Amaril and Semira. This book stands out on its own but leaves you dying to find out more about these rich characters.
Seen in its own terms (and it almost does stand on its own), MOUNTOLIVE is a political or historical novel rather than a romantic one. But it requires some knowledge of the European presence in the Middle East. By the end of the First World War, Britain essentially administered both Egypt and Palestine. By the time of these novels, Egypt has been granted independence, although Britain still wields great influence in its affairs, but the British mandate in neighboring Palestine will remain in force until 1947. And even within Egypt, Alexandria is a special case, where European influence is almost more important than Arabic. The leading figures in the novel, as in Alexandrian society, are not primarily Moslems, but Coptic Christians together with some Jews and numerous expatriates. The potential tensions between these various groups, only lightly hinted at in BALTHAZAR, become the mainspring of the plot of MOUNTOLIVE, which takes on elements of a spy story. Once more, this new perspective casts a new light on everything that we had seen before, giving an added real-world dimension to its characters.
The greater time-span of this novel means that we can see events through to at least a provisional conclusion. The first two-thirds of the book are brighter, more inspiring, than anything in the tetralogy so far. The major characters ride waves of passion, inspiration, ambition, determination. But almost all these bright starts come up against limitations, if not outright failure. The miracle is that this trajectory does not make MOUNTOLIVE depressing. Durrell's writing is a fine as ever, but now it is active rather than static; he seems less concerned with philosophy and description, more with character and action. In particular, the book is structured around a number of two-person encounters, each distinctly different from the others, exquisitely well observed in terms of the interplay of character, and often taking surprising turns. Not even the desert ride in BALTHAZAR, for instance, can match the drama of Nessim's final confrontation with Narouz. None of the sexual activity in JUSTINE can touch the sad bedroom encounter between Pursewarden and Melissa, whose very failure proves so pivotal to the plot. And at the very end of the book, as the characters find themselves trapped in situations of their own making, Durrell returns to his earlier virtuoso style with a vengeance, creating an atmosphere of nightmare that propels the action towards a climactic tour-de-force, even while sounding the knell of earlier hopes.
But there remains the promise of the last book, CLEA, to move the action forward and provide a true ending. The painter Clea has appeared in all three books so far as a touchstone of balance and grace. If any of her qualities infuse the book that bears her name, Durrell must surely achieve his own kind of benediction.
If you read the first two of the quartet, you cannot afford to miss this installment. It really helps you understand the mysteries. Of course, Durrell continues in his mastery of the language. Descriptions continue to be lush.
In this "sibling companion" to the other volumes, we find both more growing political intrigue and romantic machination. Just as "Balthazar" reconstituted and reframed the story of "Justine," the entry of Mountolive as a major figure does much the same. He begins at the Hosnani estate of where Nessim, Narouz, their mother Leila, and ailing father all reside, and we quickly learn of Mountolive and Leila's love affair. The jumps in time make it somewhat difficult to discern when this occurred (most likely well before the action of volumes I and II), but their relationship is handled every bit as well as the myriad other relationships, romantic and Plutonic, that have arisen. Mountolive takes a job as a British foreign service and hires Pursewarden, a more minor character from the previous two volumes, as one of his advisers. We also learn of a gun cartel that seems to be affiliated in some way with Narouz, whose political influence and rhetoric is becoming too strong for his own good. Mountolive's knowledge of the gunrunning plot, along with the corruption the Pasha both accepts and participates in, let him leave Egypt, but not before becoming thoroughly disillusioned.
It will come as no surprise to anyone who read my reviews of the first two novels that I have utterly enjoyed "Mountolive," too. And since I know longer know how to gush about Durrell's gorgeous, fantastic writing in an original way, I will do what I did in those reviews and leave you with a snippet from the opening chapter detailing Mountolive's entry into the British Foreign Service and his involvement with Egypt:
"As a junior of exceptional promise, he had been sent to Egypt for a year in order to improve his Arabic and found himself attached to the High Commission as a sort of scribe to await his first diplomatic posting; but he was already conducting himself as a young secretary of legation, fully aware of the responsibilities of future office. Only somehow today it was rather more difficult than usual to be reserved, so exciting has the fish-drive become."
How can you not love this stuff?