Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Balthasar

Book II of Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet is a departure from Book I - Justine. That book was so stylistically beautiful; Balthasar was much simpler in its narrative style, which was a little odd because it was told from the same character's point of view.

This installment had me very confused at first. Articles I had read about it lead me to believe that it was Balthasar himself that would be narrating this volume and not Darley, the narrator from Justine. But that's not the case. Actually, what has happened is this: Darley has written a book about his experience in Alexandria and his affair with Justine. Balthasar gets a copy of the manuscrpit and creates and interlinear - a commentary on the text to show Darley all the things he got wrong, all the stuff he didn't know about about, and sends it back to Darley. Darley thought he knew what was going on, but in reality he didn't. We only have our perspective in events, and it's always limited - it's never the full story. That's what Alexandria Quartet is - the same story told from different perspectives.

Like I said, it's not the same lyrical style as Justine. It's Darley coming to realize that he didn't know the whole story, and that his affair with Justine wasn't what he thought it was. In a way, the different narrative - much less poetic - made it easier to read. I'll reserve my opinion until I get through the next two books - Mountolive and Clea, but overall it was good.

1 comment:

Robby Virus said...

Mountolive is written in a similar style to this one, then the last book gets back to the more poetical style of Justine. I really need to read these again!