Balthazar. Genre: Literary Fiction. Balthazar. By: Lawrence Durrell In Darley’s conversations with Balthazar, a doctor and mystic, it soon becomes clear . The dazzling second volume of The Alexandria Quartet—an enthralling and deeply disturbing work of gorgeous surfaces and endless deceptions. In. nce again, in what he calls a “sibling” to his first-rate novel, “Justine,” and is the second volume of a promised tetralogy, Lawrence Durrell writes of modern.

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A blog about red shells, rum, and book publishing Monday, Lasrence 14, Balthazar by Lawrence Durrell. Go here for comments on Balthazaarbook one of The Alexandria Quartet. Here I had been loved for goodness knows how long by a creature–I cannot say a fellow-creature–of whose very existence I had been unaware. Every breath I drew was unconsciously a form of his suffering, without my ever having been aware of it. How had this disaster come about?

You will have to make room in your thoughts for this variety of the animal. I was furious, disgusted and wounded in one and the same moment. I felt almost as if I owed him an apology; and yet I also felt insulted by the intrusiveness of his love which I had never asked him to owe me.

The above could serve as a microcosm for both Justine and Balthazar. There was so much as yet left for us all to live through until we reached the occasion of the great duckshoot which so abruptly, concisely, precipitated the final change–and the disappearance of Justine herself. But all this belongs to another Alexandria–on which I created in my mind and which the great Interlinear of Balthazar has, if not lawence, changed out of all recognition.

Drurell above is a hint as to the beautiful confusion and impending enlightenment that is reading Balthazar. Durrell makes much baltyazar Balthazar not being a sequel to Justine but a ‘sibling. Not that it’s ever taken much for me to do so… All said and done, I have to admit, Balthazar is not a ‘new’ book; there is no, ‘What happens next…’ in the ddurrell. Rather it’s a very curious, telling of lawrencr that were happening concurrently as Justine only at the time of writing Justine our unnamed narrator who finally gets a name in Balthazar!

While Justine is so intimate and so forced and focused through one set of eyes, Balthazar, both ba,thazar novel and the character are able to give perspective on events. Which really makes one want to go back and read Justine again and re-evaluate events we already thought we knew. Justine was essentially a memoir of a very specific time for the narrator, he sent the manuscript to Balthazar to get it off his chest; Balthazar basically sent it back with marginalia ‘corrections.


Justine was playing everyone for a fool–the narrator more than most; Pursewarden a minor character in Justine becomes a rock star basically the real McCoy of how the narrator fashions himself and Nessim is both knowingly cuckold and the orchestrater of a grand scheme not even Balthazar knows in full. I should also say up front that Balthazar seems a very reliable narrator and is full of information, but while he fills in many of the blanks in Justine he also seems equally reticent to ‘tell all.

His cutting off of a few of Clea’s letter’s midway was particularly painful. At the heart of the story, insomuch as Justine had a ‘story,’ we see that Nessim and Justine’s marriage is a business arrangement.

The terms are very tangible and Nessim’s endgame is anything but.

More than any other character Balthazar’s new information changed the way that Nessim is perceived. It wouldn’t say that Balthazar makes Justine out to be a story of deception but certainly nothing is what it seems.

And there in lays the most prevalent theme of the novel: Hamid waited upon us with solitude and in complete silence. Did he know what was preoccupying us both? It was impossible to read anything on those gentle pock-marked feature, in that squinting single eye. Having read the novel, that passage got me thinking about anything but the moment it portrays. Nearly everyone is hiding something and it’s the few open and honest ones in the story who seem to get hurt the most; which is probably why Justine seemed so sensitive as it was written by the most vulnerable character.

Some characters have to hide in domino during carnival; others–Nessim’s family–behind veils or horrific birth-scars which makes Nessim’s hiding in plain sight so amazing! Finishing Balthazar in many ways feels like never having read Justine to begin with; or perhaps that I didn’t really read it correctly.

As with Justinethe writing itself is the most arresting part of the novel. Unlike Justine, the writing is so plain, simple, oddly tangible, concrete and ultimately linear as to make you think something is wrong, but then again aren’t all books supposed to read like that?

Balthasar by Lawrence Durrell | : Books

Balthazar isn’t the ‘artist’s attempt’ as the narrator’s efforts was in Justinerather it’s the enlightened professor reading the student’s work and saying, “Let me tell you what’s up…” In Justine it was easy to get lost in the abstract beauty of Durrell’s words and presentation.

Balthazar is noting like Justine in that regard but may be more profound as the scaled down to normal form and substantially less florid prose make it easy to think about what you’re given in both books. As pretentious as it sounds Durrell pulled it off: Balthazar is not a balthzzar Unwittingly I may have supplied you with a form, something out of the way! Not unlike Pursewarden’s idea of a series of novels with ‘sliding panels’ as he called them.


Or else, perhaps, like some medieval palimpsest where different sorts of truth balthazaar thrown down one upon the other, the one obliterating or perhaps supplementing another.

Industrious monks scraping away an elegy to make balfhazar for a verse of holy Writ! If nothing else Durrell balthazzar a great critic of his own work and a damn good salesman…. My friends must all have known all along.

Balthazar – Lawrence Durrell

Yet nobody breathed a word. But of course, the truth is that nobody ever does breathe a word, nobody interferes, nobody whispers while the acrobat is on the tight-rope; they just sit and watch the spectacle, durrrell only to be wise after the event.

But then, from another point of view, how would I, blindly and passionately in love with Justine, have received such unwelcome truths at the time? Would they have deflected me from my purpose? To say something concrete of the story: Lawrenxe think Melissa knows everything which, if true, makes her the most out-of-the-blue complex character in the whole story ; Balthazar is mean to say the least and as forthcoming as he is, he is llawrence holding back; the narrator is the most naive person alive; Nessim is up to something good or bad, but something … ; I love this lawrende.

I feel duped; you see, I’ve read this book before. The first time I read it, it was called Justine. I read it a second time and it was called Balthazar and it seems absurd to be blown away upon re-reading such a familiar book.

There seems to be a theme in the series: We’ll never get to read from Justine’s point of view or Nessim’s. I have no clue what Mountolive could possibly contribute but I can’t wait to find out.

As much lawrenxe I want to read what Clea has to say it seems so appropriate that she has the last word.

Posted by Chad Hull at Monday, November 14, Newer Post Older Post Home. Most Recent Book Commentaries http: Here I talk about books I’ve read and those I want to read.

Spoiler, Or, A Reckoning with Sentimental Habits By Way of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet

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