Can you please give me a summary of The Alexanderia Quartet (Justine)? I couldnt find it anywhere.

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This novel is experimental and complex and is built on a series of epiphanies or sudden revelations such as those used by James Joyce. It is the first in a series of four novels called The Alexandria Quartet.

The central focus of the story is the doomed love between Justine and the narrator Darley, and the novel's theme is an exploration of the various facets of love, ranging from the erotic to the spiritual/platonic. Justine is married to Nessim, making the affair between her and Darley adulterous. Darley is also Nessim's friend, rendering it an uncomfortable situation. Justine herself is enigmatic and alluring. She is also a reflection of the city of Alexandria, Egypt in the 1930s and 1940s (the World War II era), a dense grab bag of different religions and cultures and a mixture of sophistication and corruption, of wealth and poverty, and of the beautiful and the ugly.

Darley, who also has an affair with  Melissa, a woman with tuberculosis, spends a good deal of time trying to understand Justine. He reads Justine's diaries and a novel about her by her late husband. As this novel (Justine) ends, he is growing closer to Clea, a woman with whom Justine has had an affair. 

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A link to the summary of "The Alexandria Quartet" and other information can be found at the eNotes link below. Here is an excerpt regarding the first volume and character, Justine (1957):

Justine seems, by turns, exotic and passionate, nymphomaniacal and sexless unless sex is yoked with political intrigue. Readers may think they know her when they understand that her sexual activity amounts to an attempt to exorcise the fact that she was raped as a child. Or, when one realizes that all of her sexual encounters may be rooted in espionage, one is invited to conclude that she is merely Nessim's spy, a tool in her husband's anti-British conspiracy. Even her psychoanalysts are unable to discover the one true face behind the multiple masks.

Of course, as readers work their way through the simultaneity of the complete Alexandria Quartet, and learn that the basic facts of the first volume are a kind of hoax, readers finally come to understand, with Darley, the romantic young narrator in the process of learning how and what to see, that Justine does have one identity, one face: "the primitive face of mindless Aphrodite."

Read the study guide:
The Alexandria Quartet

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