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Justine (1957)

af Lawrence Durrell

Andre forfattere: Se andre forfattere sektionen.

Serier: Alexandria Quartet (1)

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2,372464,704 (3.79)174
Byen Alexandria før 2. verdenskrig danner rammen om et kompliceret puslespil af filtrede menneskeskæbner, forretninger, meninger og livsholdninger.
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Engelsk (43)  Spansk (2)  Catalansk (1)  Alle sprog (46)
Viser 1-5 af 46 (næste | vis alle)
Justine is a story of adultery, of fate, of attraction. It's the story of Alexandria, Egypt as well, which the narrator blames on page one for all that follows. It's a fascinating setting brought to life with Durrell's Proustian descriptive passages - but not really so dry as that. He demonstrates the city's character through its citizens, exposing us to a wide swath of the social scale and all of their qualities. Alexandria as he portrays it is a den of self-aware licentiousness closely tied to a sense of the inevitable. This serves to feed the same beliefs in the character Justine.

Justine believes she is a slave to fate, that she must inevitably act upon attraction even before it burgeons into love. It's a strange belief I can't relate to, but I found solace from confusion in the narrator - her latest lover - who doesn't really believe in it either. Nonetheless it is part of the mystery of her that attracts him in return. Both of them betray other loves in their lives, each of those relationships with its own complications. Their secret cannot be kept forever.

Dialogue like music, its lyrics like poetry, whatever the subject matter. Nearly everyone in this novel is fiercely introspective, if not always correct in their analysis. The narrator is aided by a novel written by Justine's former lover that he uses as a map to navigate his own relationship with her. Perhaps here Durrell is cribbing from an earlier draft of a similar story, his own "Go Find a Watchman". The title's borrowing from Marquis de Sade does not at first seem as direct in the novel's content. The Justine of this novel acts more like her own torturer, until we learn her behaviour is likely explained by childhood abuse. Possibly it was darker abuse than we know, further shaded by fears for her lost daughter. The reader should anticipate a bolt of lightning? ( )
  Cecrow | Apr 18, 2021 |
How do you review, how do you qualify, how do you classify an experience like "Justine"? It's my introduction to Durrell as a writer, and a turning point in my adventures in literature.

Durrell feverishly and uncompromisingly explores the inner-workings of his half-dozen lead characters, filtered through the locational limitations of their chosen city - Alexandria - and describes how each person is constantly fettered by their own past, but also their social and societal contexts, their fears and self-doubts, and their attempts at interaction.

It would be easy simply to quote endless snippets of Durrell's writing here, to explain his genius. But this seems useless. Read the book yourself instead.

It's an exhausting experience, this much is true. Emotionally, linguistically, even - in some unusual way - physically. At the same time, this snappy (200 page) book never feels dense. Despite his closely-textured style, the reader can race through this experience, never feeling daunted by the words at hand.

Are there parts of Durrell and his style that I question? Certainly. He has that early 20th-century approach to "different" people which isn't truly offensive, but is a little too matter-of-fact to be comforting to those of us in the politically-correct 2000s. Women, homosexuals, children, people of different colours and religions... they're all given equal weight as characters, certainly, but sometimes they're more easily defined by their different element. (Durrell's feelings on sex and love are complex, but at times it seems like he sees gay men as simply horny men who have forsaken love for the easier - but undoubtedly loveless - sexual interaction that comes with men. And his characters constantly referring to children as "it" annoys me, even though I accept it was a commonplace of the era.) One could also ask questions about his interactions with the lower classes. Durrell's Alexandria pulses with life, this is true, and his descriptive passages are viscerally evocative. However, his characters rarely engage with work or real life; they seem instead to drift through at their own pace. Perhaps this is being too specific - after all, why should the novel focus on the narrator's teaching career when it is exploring his relationship with Justine? Or perhaps it is being churlish - by the inverse token, "Les Miserables" doesn't feature many sympathetic or realistically-drawn rich people: that would be against its mandate! So, I'll let it slide.

Durrell can be a challenging read for someone of my generation. First, much of his speech and use of words is archaic (when was the last time anyone used "terrible" to mean anything other than "of poor quality"?). Second, he had me running for the dictionary sometimes as much as four times in one sentence! (Not that I'd ever complain about learning new words or being challenged, it just unnerves me as someone who has always prided myself on my vocabulary). Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, he comes from a very different generation and - more importantly - was writing for people like himself: upper-middle-class folk who has plenty of leisure time, who had undoubtedly travelled Europe and/or Northern Africa, who had at least a workable knowledge of three or four Romance languages, and who had a thorough knowledge of mythological, literary, and cultural references. It struck me the other day, while reading "Justine" on the train, that our society has segregated far more of late. The middle class no longer have this knowledge; it is reserved only for the few who develop a passion for it, and the few who are born to it. I almost fit that bill, so I was less challenged than many readers may be, but it's certainly clear that Durrell's target audience no longer exists, and that these books - written a scant 55 years ago - will need to be quite exhaustively annotated for future generations, if they are to remain in the public eye at all.

Sadly, I don't think "Justine" and its kind will be popular reads in the future. They are too intellectual, too challenging - still! - in their content, and perhaps simply too high-minded for a culture rapidly saturated by reality television. (Ugh, I take back that last comment; I don't want to be one of those "turn off the television and sit down with Dickens" preachers: I'm genuinely not like that!) Yet, "Justine" still has much to offer. Its depictions of Alexandria, oozing sweat and life and dust. The broken reminiscences of the narrator, attempting to reconcile his notions of love and sex with his experiences of same. The fascinating complexities of Nessim and Melissa, of Scobie and Clea, even of the seemingly one-note Capodistria. And, of course, the eponymous portrait. I'm assuming that that fractured portraiture is Durrell's ultimate endgame, as I will discover when I read the remainder of the Alexandria Quartet. Justine is seen refracted through so many pairs of eyes in this novel, and each heart, each mind teases out different pieces of information. None of them are wrong, per se, but none of them are absolutely right. Durrell is asking us to consider which parts of a person's dimensions are truly the essence of themselves. After all, we all wear so many masks in life that these elements threaten to overtake, and, of course, we are many different - yet truthful - things to many different people. Beyond this, we evolve and change with each experience in life. And finally, there is the fact that sometimes our minds do hold breathtaking contradictions, some that we cannot quite understand ourselves.

For such a messy question, Durrell has found quite an elegant attempt at an answer. ( )
1 stem therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
Justine inicia la obra que la crítica mundial ha saludado unánimemente como una de las más extraordinaria, audaz y original de estos últimos años: la tetralogía denominada El cuarteto de Alejandría.
Su autor, ya conocido como uno de los mejores poetas de la lengua inglesa, se revela aquí no sólo como un prosista prodigioso, donde cada palabra parece inesperada y nueva, sino además como uno de los pocos escritores de hoy capaces de describir con inteligencia y rigor, y a la vez con el encanto de una conversación maravillosa, la turbadora complejidad de la vida contemporánea.
Justine ha sido definida como una penetrante investigación del amor moderno, y, también, como la más sorprendente descripción del sentimiento trágico de la vida.
Durrell no sólo evoca magníficamente lo exótico, lo poético, lo extravagante, lo diabólico: su Alejandría, donde se confunden la realidad y el sueño, es sin embargo de una precisa belleza y ha sido comparada con la Roma de Hawthorne y el París de Proust. En este fabuloso escenario, el relato, y el mismo amor de Darley, el narrador, por la enigmática Justine parecen crecer incesantemente, hasta alcanzar en la fascinadora cacería del lago Mareotis una insólita y dramática intensidad.
Lawrence Durrell nació en 1914 en Bombay, de padres irlandeses, Vivió en Londres y Corfú, y como diplomático inglés, en Egipto, Argentina, Chipre y Europa Central. Reside en el sur de Francia. Es el autor de El libro negro y Cefalú, y un libro clásico sobre Chipre, Limones amargos. El cuarteto de Alejandría ha sido traducido a más de doce idiomas.
  ArchivoPietro | Oct 24, 2020 |
BG-4
  Murtra | Sep 30, 2020 |
I very much enjoyed the dream-like but engrossing introduction to the Alexandria Quartet. This first dip into the experiment in Point of view, did what it was supposed to do; it drew me into the other three books, and got my mind played with by Lawrence Durrell's masterpiece. The totality should never be passed up by aspiring writers, and even the casual reader should be acquainted with this lovely book. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jun 28, 2020 |
Viser 1-5 af 46 (næste | vis alle)
This extraordinary novel is a sensuous and beautifully written hymn to the "postcoital sadness" of mankind. [...] When the book is finished the people fade, but the riddles of existence and the cruelties of love remain as vivid images. And Alexandria remains as well, with its dusttormented streets, its lemony sunlight, where even the sulky young "struggle for breath and in every summer kiss they can detect the taste of quicklime."
tilføjet af Widsith | RedigerTime (Aug 26, 1957)
 
This is the best work of fiction I have read in some years [...] a book that demands comparison with the very best books of our century and specifically, since it treats also of recollected experiences of love, with Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past." Mr. Durrell has become a truly important writer [...] His people, his places are masterly. It is a long time since a new book obliged me to read so slowly, so savoringly.
tilføjet af Widsith | RedigerNew York Times, Gerald Sykes (Aug 25, 1957)
 

» Tilføj andre forfattere (71 mulige)

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I am accustoming myself to the idea of regarding every sexual act as a process in which four persons are involved. We shall have a lot to discuss about that.
S. Freud: Letters
There are two positions available to us - either crime which renders us happy, or the noose, which prevents us from being unhappy. I ask whether there can be any hesitation, lovely Thérèse, and where will your little mind find an argument able to combat that one?
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To EVE these memorials of her native city
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The sea is high again today, with a thrilling flush of wind.
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“Los espíritus desmembrados por el sexo no alcanzan paz hasta que la vejez y la impotencia les persuaden de que el silencio y la tranquilidad no tienen  nada de hostiles”
“Con una mujer solo se pueden hacer tres cosas: quererla, sufrirla o hacerla literatura”.
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Byen Alexandria før 2. verdenskrig danner rammen om et kompliceret puslespil af filtrede menneskeskæbner, forretninger, meninger og livsholdninger.

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