“The Books Get Better and Better”: Amitav Ghosh Reflects upon The Alexandria Quartet.

Amitav Ghosh’s appreciation for The Alexandria Quartet is well-documented.  (Check here for a catalog of Ghosh’s numerous acknowledgments of Lawrence Durrell.)

In a recent posting at his blog-site, Ghosh once again turns to thinking about The Alexandria Quartet.  On this occasion, Ghosh shares some afterthoughts about completing Clea, the last novel in the tetralogy:

Finished reading Clea yesterday. Was more or less in tears at the end of it.  The books get better and better.  I think the blurb is on the whole right: The Alexandria Quartet is probably as close to a masterpiece as anything written in the ’50s.

Particularly liked Durrell’s translation of the Cavafy poem at the end.  (Must look for a Cavafy collection when I am in Alexandria next: wonder if I’ll find one?)

The dateline for these remarks — “May 29, 1980 | [‘Lataifa’, Egypt]” — suggests that Ghosh excerpted his reflections on Clea from a diary he kept while living in Egypt in the early 1980s.  The publication of this diary entry also suggests just how long Ghosh’s fascination with The Alexandria Quartet has lasted, 1980 – 2011.

For Ghosh’s reminisces about reading Durrell while living in Alexandria, see the autobiographical sketch published at the Penguin Books site for The Ibis Trilogy.

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