Balthazar is the second of four novels - each telling the same story from a difference perspective - in Lawrence Durrell’s Magnum opus: ‘The Alexandria Quartet.’ In this novel, Darley, from whose viewpoint the first novel Justine is told, is forced to revisit, re-evaluate and revise his previous interpretation of the past when his Alexandrian friend Balthazar pays an unexpected visit to his Corfu island retreat.
Durrell presents multiple perspectives in his Quartet, creating what he described as a “stereoscopic effect,” to give a greater sense of verisimilitude. However, whilst more knowledge is gained with each novel; Durrell, perversely, also makes the reader aware - that by its transient and unstable nature - the truth is ultimately elusive.
Like the past Durrell writes about, so too has his Quartet undergone continuous reinterpretation. A commercial and critical success at the time of its initial publication; it later fell out of fashion; and is currently enjoying something of a revival, including being selected last year for discussion and analysis by The Guardian Reading Group.
The book in the photographs is a First Edition, second impression, published by Faber in 1958 with a jacket design by Berthold Wolpe.
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