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Summary

In Balthazar, the second volume in Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, the story and the characters come more clearly into focus. Darley, the reflective Englishman, receives from Balthazar, the pathologist, a mass of notes which attempt to explain what really happened between the tempestuous Justine, her husband Nessim, Clea the artist, and Pursewarden the writer.

As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Lawrence Durrell's book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews Daniel Mendelsohn about the life and work of Lawrence Durrell – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.

Listen to all four novels in The Alexandria Quartet.
©1958 Lawrence Durrell (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Lawrence Durrell's Justine was certainly one of the finest novels of the last ten years. If anything, Balthazar is more convincing…. Durrell is moving up, onto the highest levels of the novelist's art." ( The Nation)

What members say

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Good listening

A fascinating story, made easier by being read, as it was hard to read oneself in cold blood. The narrator has a very good way of differentiating between the characters and bringing them to some sort of life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Listen to sample!

Found the reader's voice took the pleasure out of this book, have read before and looked forward to listening, very disappointed.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Balthazar

This is the second novel in the quartet. It does not carry on from Justine but challenges the assumptions of that first book. Darley, the story teller, sends the manuscript which we know as Justine to Balthazar, a doctor with a great interest in the Cabala. And it is Balthazar who has diligently examined the bundle of papers and written extensive notes which bring to the recorded events a new aspect and further information.
It is in this book that the successful writer Purswarden emerges as an enigmatic actor in the drama. We have another element in which Durrell can explore the process of creativity and its cost. None of this is boring. For the vitality, colour and humour of the writing took me on my own journey of reminiscence.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • 21-05-18

Life is short, art long

"Our view of reality is conditioned by our position in space and time — not by our personalities as we like to think."
- Lawrence Durrell, Balthazar

In Durrell's second book of the Alexandria Quartet, Durrell has added another voice, another perspective to the events of the first novel. He is giving the story depth. He is destroying of the private Alexandria of Darley, and now expanding the story to include perspectives from Balthazar. Darley has sent Balthazar the manuscript for Book 1, and Book 2 now replays some of the same narrative (some things are missing, some new details are added, some facts are contradicted, new facts are discovered). Balthazar has dropped his loose-leafed Inter-Linear of Book 1 off to Darley, who is now raising Melissa (and Nassim's daughter) on a small Greek island (just West of Smyrna.* Chios?).

Again, I LOVED this second book. The language pulls me page after page. I had to stop myself from licking the page to get another scent or taste of Alexandria. The Carnival scene was intense and reminded me of a comination of Eyes-Wide-Shut and a William Burroughs trip. I also adored the desert/farm section with Nassim and his hair-lipped brother Narouz and their mother Leila).

Finally, I ravished every scene and every line from author Pursewarden (who seems to be modeled on a combination of Henry Miller and Wyndham Lewis)

* Modern-day Izmir

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 03-02-12

transcendent prose, maturing plot and characters

A new layer of history, interpersonal intricacies, told through another point of view, was added to the characters of Justine, while the persona of the city Alexandria and theme of love and desires permeates and ferments like aged wines. Durrell's masterly prose is further enriched by germinating characters and maturing plots.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-07-17

horrible narration

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I could hardly understand the narrator when he did different characters. It was way over done. It really ruined the beloved series for me.

Would you be willing to try another one of Jack Klaff’s performances?

NO!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful