Re: The Alexandria Quartet
Posted by Seema on 7/5/2012, 19:29:11, in reply to "Re: The Alexandria Quartet"
: Thanks for the link, I'll check it. I have an edition
: (supposedly masterful) of Cavafy's poems translated
: into Spanish, but I hadn't gone through it until now.
: The moment Durrell mentioned the poet, I took it out
: of the shelf and started reading. It absolutely
: conquered me. Cavafy's a wonderful poet, and the
: combination between him and Durrell really makes you
: go back in time and visit old Alexandria.
: --Previous Message--
: I also read "The Alexandria Quartet" years
: and liked it. I then followed it up with another
: novel about Alexandria--Naguib Mahfouz's
: "Miramar." I'm not sure which influenced
: which, but both the "Quartet" and
: "Miramar" employ the Rashomon-like device of
: telling the same story from different points of view,
: suggesting that perhaps it's somewhere in the middle
: that the real truth of what occurred lies.
: The best thing to come out of my reading the
: "Quartet," though, was my discovery of the
: poet who inspired it: Constantine Cavafy. I had never
: heard of him before, but now he is one of my very
: favorite writers. Highly recommended if you get a
: chance. Though the poems are approaching 100 years old
: now, they read as if they were written just last night
: by that solitary individual lingering over a cup of
: coffee in the back corner of the cafe you visited.
: In case you're interested, here is an interesting
: essay on Cavafy and his kindred spirit, the Portuguese
: writer Fernando Pessoa:
: The author of the piece compares the two poets (both
: worked mundane office jobs while producing in near
: anonymity great literature in their free time) and
: discusses the importance of the cities they lived in
: (Alexandria for Cavafy, Lisbon for Pessoa) to their
: Finally, one more thing on Alexandria. I read
: somewhere that E.M. Forster (a friend of Cavafy's)
: wrote two definitive guidebooks to old Alexandria, but
: I've only been able to find one of them ("Pharos
: and Pharillon"). The other ("Alexandria: A
: History & a Guide") remains out there
: somewhere, yet to be tracked down by me. I'd love to
: find a copy because: 1. since my discovery of Cavafy,
: I have a fascination with old Alexandria; and 2.
: several writers have called Forster's guide one of the
: great travel books ever written.
It's been over a decade since I read the Quartet but it made a pretty big impression on me at the time. Cavafy was certainly my biggest takeaway from the books but it was also possibly one of my first explorations into a work where the narrator(s) were essentially unreliable. I'd love to revisit these now.
Also, I posted here briefly about 4 years ago and doubt any of you remember but am still reading (your posts as well as books in general) and am always delighted to see this forum still active.