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Publisher's Summary

"The politics of love, the intrigues of desire, good and evil, virtue and caprice, love and murder, moved obscurely in the dark corners of Alexandria’s streets and squares, brothels and drawing-rooms - moved like a great congress of eels in the slime of plot and counter-plot." 

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 that attempt to explain what really happened between the tempestuous Justine, her husband, Nessim, Clea the artist, and Pursewarden the writer; new figures emerge and play key roles. Balthazar, in his "Interlinear", explains and warns.

©1958 Lawrence Durrell (P)2021 Naxos AudioBooks UK Ltd.

What listeners say about Balthazar

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The perfect voice

I have loved Justine for years. Nicholas Bolton has the perfect voice for Darley. He perfectly iterates Durrell’s descriptions -the people -and of course, Alexandria.

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In the Season of Carnival in Alexandria

#balthazar is the second volume in the #alexandriaquartet by #lawrencedurrell and, rather than continuing the tale of sex and upper class debauchery in the ancient seaside city of #alexandria in #egypt as the nation braces for the coming war between #hitler 's #germany and the rest of Europe, retells much of the story from the perspective of Balthazar, a #jewish Alexandria doctor and a scholar of the #kaballah whom instructs this community of principle characters in the city. Having attracted the attentions and suspicions of the #british #secretservice of #cairo, the original narrator #darley, an expatriate #irish teacher of English, is compelled by the Secret Service through #scobie , an English #bimbashi (major) in the #turkish #police which technically controls Egypt who also happens to be an officer in the British Secret Service, is compelled to spy on the members of the #cabal , with whom he runs. Darley also happens to be carrying on an illicit affair with #justine , the title character of the first book who is also married to a powerful #coptic banker who belongs to a very powerful and very old Alexandria family.

Tracked down in exile on a remote Greek isle with the child of another illicit relationship between Darley's mistress and Justine's husband by Balthazar, to whom Darley had sent the manuscript of the book Justine, the old Alexandria doctor had made numerous notes to the novel manuscript that gave greater clarity to the real events that inspired the work of fiction. This prompts the telling of one major significant event that occurred during Carnival, strangely celebrated in this mostly Muslim city as a universally indulged three days of decadence.

I found this story fascinating as I was unaware of the holiday, traditionally associated with overwhelming Catholic communities, which is still celebrated in Alexandria today. Though not as graphic as #henrymiller , his influence is obvious and Durrell's appreciation of #grahamgreene and the interesting #scobie connection grows clearer in this decadent account of ex-pat life in colonial Egypt. Book Three, #mountolive , is already in my queue. #readtheworld #readtheworldchallenge @globalreadingchallenge #englishnovel #englishliterature #modernlibrarytop100novels

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Disappointed in the reader

I am, once again, disappointed in Audible’s choice of reader. Nicolas Boulton read the whole book with a sense of urgency—the same level of urgency—an urgency that is not necessary for the story. And is there really no one who can pronounce English, French, and Arabic properly?

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  • Sammy J
  • 10-03-21

Elegant and engaging

Again, fantastic to have the unabridged Quartet on here, and Boulton's soulful, intelligent reading. Perhaps there were moments in the dialogue that felt too pacy, but I suspect this was primarily Naxos' desire not to have extraneous amounts of tape/playing time with natural silences. Otherwise, this was an engaging and satisfying listen to a genius novel.