[ilds] dunsany:durrell:carcassonne:alexandria

csligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Tue Sep 23 16:00:48 PDT 2008

william godshalk wrote:
>>> *Dunsany's Carcassonne is another myth by which we might steer as 
>>> well as by Troy or Alexandria.*
> Okay, I have an interpretation. /Carcassonne / is a  quest story that 
> fades away into silence. There is no final fight with the dragon. And 
> thus /Justine/.

And thus we ask of the woman "Justine":  Is there any "there" there?

Here copied and pasted below is Dunsany on his fabled city.  In many 
cases, once again, in place of "Carcassonne," we might substitute 
"Alexandria" or "Troy" or any other El Dorado that we choose.  Invisible 
Cities, all of these. 

Desire and Pursuit of the Whole. . . .

And then Durrell makes it explicit by having the recurrent "mirage" 
visions of the City.

Refunding into silence. . . .


> Far away it was, and far and far
> away, a city of gleaming ramparts rising one over other, and marble
> terraces behind the ramparts, and fountains shimmering on the terraces. To
> Carcassonne the elf-kings with their fairies had first retreated from men,
> and had built it on an evening late in May by blowing their elfin horns.
> Carcassonne! Carcassonne!
> Travellers had seen it sometimes like a clear dream, with the sun
> glittering on its citadel upon a far-off hilltop, and then the clouds had
> come or a sudden mist; no one had seen it long or come quite close to it;
> though once there were some men that came very near, and the smoke from
> the houses blew into their faces, a sudden gust--no more, and these
> declared that some one was burning cedarwood there. Men had dreamed that
> there is a witch there, walking alone through the cold courts and
> corridors of marmorean palaces, fearfully beautiful and still for all her
> fourscore centuries, singing the second oldest song, which was taught her
> by the sea, shedding tears for loneliness from eyes that would madden
> armies, yet will she not call her dragons home--Carcassonne is terribly
> guarded. Sometimes she swims in a marble bath through whose deeps a river
> tumbles, or lies all morning on the edge of it to dry slowly in the sun,
> and watches the heaving river trouble the deeps of the bath. It flows
> through the caverns of earth for further than she knows, and coming to
> light in the witch's bath goes down through the earth again to its own
> peculiar sea.
> In autumn sometimes it comes down black with snow that spring has molten
> in unimagined mountains, or withered blooms of mountain shrubs go
> beautifully by.
> When there is blood in the bath she knows there is war in the mountains;
> and yet she knows not where those mountains are.
> When she sings the fountains dance up from the dark earth, when she combs
> her hair they say there are storms at sea, when she is angry the wolves
> grow brave and all come down to the byres, when she is sad the sea is sad,
> and both are sad for ever. Carcassonne! Carcassonne!
> This city is the fairest of the wonders of Morning; the sun shouts when he
> beholdeth it; for Carcassonne Evening weepeth when Evening passeth away.

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