Sunday, 18 September 2011
THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET
What am I doing in Alexandria? A book prompted the journey, a library - the destination, and a revolution - the compulsion. I read Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet as a young woman, and it drew me to the city. Finally here I am, in a flat overlooking a traffic gorged Corniche and a sultry Mediteranean. Lawrence Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet lies on a table. The book has been a lifetime companion, a nudging reminder of a dream. I first read the book as a young woman, seduced by the sexual and emotional charge of Durrell's city that mapped the terrain of the human heart in its 'thousand dust tormented streets.' His cosmopolitan characters seduced me as much as they seduced each other. Durrell said his Alexandria of the thirties and forties had gone forever. And now, a new city and a new Egypt beckons another generation of writers and readers. Is there anything of Durrell's Alexandria left to survive yet another revolution?