[ilds] Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 'Alexandria Quartet'

Charles Sligh slighcl at wfu.edu
Fri Nov 30 18:12:30 PST 2007

Thanks to Ilyas and James for stepping up.  I hope that more subscribers will
engage soon.  Responses from those who attended OMG 1996 in Alex would
especially be welcome.

Until then, I will bring more information about the local responses to the 50th
anniversary of _Justine_ as I can.

On the beat--




Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 'Alexandria Quartet'

By Daily News Egypt
First Published 11/26/2007

Generations of writers have been inspired by the multi-cultural, outward-looking
city of Alexandria. In recent history, the most famous literary work about
Alexandria by a non-Egyptian author is Lawrence Durrell’s “Justine,” the first
volume of his classic “Alexandria Quarter.”

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of this book, the British
Council and the Alexandria and Mediterranean Research Center are co-hosting a
program of events about Durrell, the man, and Alexandria’s continuing influence
on writers today. The event is sponsored by the British Egyptian Society.

Michael Haag, author of “Alexandria: City of Memory” and an upcoming biography
of Lawrence Durrell, will talk about Durrell’s journey to Alexandria, with a
biographical and literary focus on how world events led him to the city, how he
developed his ideas and why he saw Alexandria as the right setting for his

Poet Peter Porter, editor of a recent volume of Durrell’s poetry, will discuss
Durrell’s Mediterranean poetry and the influence it had on his later prose
writings. Penelope Durrell Hope, his daughter who fled to Alexandria from
Greece with her parents, will share family photographs and speak about her

The event will also feature readings by Alexandrian writers Ibrahim Abdel
Meguid, Harry Tzalas and Edwar El-Kharrat, adding an authentically Egyptian
vision of Alexandria to Durrell’s presentation of the city.
Abdel Meguid’s “No One Sleeps in Alexandria” depicts the intertwined lives of an
assortment of Egyptians and explores how the World War II came crashing down on
their lives. Tzalas’s short stories in “Farewell to Alexandria” take us back to
the same era as Durrell and Abdel Meguid, capturing the essence of the city at
that time and in some ways foretelling the fundamental changes and exodus that
was to come later. The autobiographical works of Edwar El Kharrat, “City of
Saffron” and “Girls of Alexandria” explore his childhood and adolescence in the
Alexandria of the 1930s and 1940s.

A walking tour of the city has been specially created for participants in this
celebration featuring the key places from the literary works of Durrell and
others. These locations will also be recorded in a printed map of literary

To mark this event, Dr Mohamed Awad, leading architect and Alexandrian, will
launch a new campaign to save the Villa Ambron — not just as the place where
Durrell wrote some of his major works, but also the home of influential
Egyptian artists Effat Nagui and Saad El Khadim — with a roundtable discussion
on the issues surrounding the preservation of heritage sites in times of urban
development. Dr Awad will be joined by the writers Gamal El Ghitani, Osama
Anwar Okasha, Ibrahim Abdel Meguid and Alaa El Aswany.

During the event, books by Lawrence Durrell and all the speakers will be
available for purchase from the Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s bookstore.
The celebration will take place on Nov. 29 and 30 at the Bibliotheca

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