Sunday, 18 September 2011


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?


  1. Go Chris! Looking forward to reading your blog - my father was in Alexandria in the war, he loved Egypt and the Arab people. Coincidentally I'm just re-reading The Book of my Childhood, set in India, and planning a similar trip in my mind. Highlighting the places on Kindle isn't quite the same as getting up and going but you're definitely inspiring me to make it a reality one day.

  2. My dear Christine,

    This is Joseph M. Pinto, a colleague of Tariq at Sunrise Radio in Bradford during 1993, when my wife was doing her PhD in Leeds.

    I was a journalist and editor in Pune during 1983 to 1996, as well teach editing at the University Dept here. Now I'm semi-retired.

    Have you read Naguib Mahfouz and how he looks at modern-day Egypt? Maybe there is a lesson there -- for all of us, who wallow in the exotic oriental creations of Durrell, etc.

    In India, we too have our Ruth Prawer Jhabwalas, who can see only heat and dust.

    Peace and love,
    - Joe.


    Blog: Against the Tide (

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