The Alexandria Quartet: ‘Love is every sort of conspiracy’

1960s: Days of Rage

Alexandria Castle, Egypt

“Lawrence Durrell claimed that the four books of The Alexandria Quartet were ‘an investigation of modern love’. It’s possible to take that idea at face value. Some have even used it as a stick with which to beat him. Notably, his Guardian obituarist (writing in 1990, at a time when Durrell’s reputation was possibly at its lowest ebb) said ‘a harsh judgment’ of his masterpiece might be that it was ‘a four-volume romantic novel written by a poet steeped in Freud and on nodding terms with Einstein’. I’m guessing from the warm response the books have had from this month’s Reading Group that most of you reading this will see that as an absurd rather than just a harsh judgment. Even if we accept that Durrell was only concerned with romantic love, that gives us endless scope for discussion – as Reading Group contributor Wheldrake has…

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