Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) was one of the foremost novelists of the twentieth century. The Alexandria Quartet was unquestionably his most famous and admired work, a tetralogy he described as an investigation of modern love. Consisting of Justine (1957), Balthazar (1958), Mountolive (1958), and Clea (1960), The Alexandria Quartet explores the sexual and political intrigues of a group of expatriates in Egypt before and during the Second World War.
In Justine, L. G. Darley attempts to reconcile himself to the recent end of his affair with the dark, passionate, multi-faceted Justine Hosnani. Balthazar is named for Darley's friend, a doctor and mystic, and it provides a retelling of Darley's romance with Justine from a more philosophical perspective. Mountolive is the narrative of English ambassador David Mountolive. The final volume, Clea, finds Darley maturing into the knowledge that the gifted painter Clea Montis is the women for whom he is truly destined.