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audreyhawkins

audreyhawkins

Justine - Lawrence Durrell Durell's _Justine_ is well written, and I like his central conceit of a portrait of a person as the portrait of the landscape. The narrator looks back on his relationship with Justine and the people in her orbit, jumping around chronologically. It reminds me of a cubist portrait, all happening at once: it doesn't matter when things happened, the reader gets the full 360 on the person, in this case, Justine. For this, Durrell is excellent. Unfortunately, there's a stuffiness to the writing that makes it feel very dated, and the main tone of the book is ennui. There is a plot in there, and it actually gets pretty juicy, but he's not selling it hard. He lets you find it through all those layers. On the down side, he can get showy at times, never using a metaphor when an erudite allusion will do. Still, in places, the writing is sublime, and worth slogging through the over-written parts.

It's also easy to mock, as can be seen in the Guardian's digested classics, here. And here's a discussion of the entire quartet. Which I suppose I would read if it came my way.