[ilds] the rope trick

Godshalk, William (godshawl) godshawl at ucmail.uc.edu
Sat Jun 19 18:53:02 PDT 2010

Well, okay, it's a hoax. And a young kid was taken in -- as many older folks were. Durrell thought that the hoax was the real thing. Houdini got away with hoax after hoax.
Versions of the story spread worldwide, but little notice was taken of a short note published by the Chicago Tribune  four months after the original story that admitted the article was a publicity stunt. It assumed readers would realise it was a hoax because the story was bylined "Fred S. Ellmore".

Mr Lamont discovered the truth after a painstaking search that revealed the bizarre theories of others who claim to have "solved" the trick. "It is a legend which the West constructed," said Mr Lamont, 37, who is now planning to write a book on its history.

One Viceroy of India is said to have offered a £10,000 reward to the person who would reveal the secret so he could impress the visiting Prince of Wales. And one expert claims it involved twin boys, one of whom would actually be murdered.

It is thought the hoax may have been inspired by the Indian street act of balancing a boy on a pole. "I suppose I have destroyed some people's beliefs," said Mr Lamont, of Edinburgh University's Koestler Parapsychology Unit. 

W. L. Godshalk *
Department of English    *           *
University of Cincinnati*   * Stellar Disorder  *
OH 45221-0069 *  *
From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of Godshalk, William (godshawl) [godshawl at ucmail.uc.edu]
Sent: Saturday, June 19, 2010 3:15 PM
To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Subject: Re: [ilds] "Our most exalted alumni was Lawrence Durrell"

I met many years ago two Scottish/Dutch kids who were reared in the east. They spoken fluent English and Dutch --- and their parents found out one day, to their surprise, that the kids also spoke the local dialect (can't remember which) fluently.

Why not Durrell too?


W. L. Godshalk *
Department of English    *           *
University of Cincinnati*   * Stellar Disorder  *
OH 45221-0069 *  *
From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] On Behalf Of Bruce Redwine [bredwine1968 at earthlink.net]
Sent: Saturday, June 19, 2010 12:21 PM
To: Charles-Sligh at utc.edu; ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Cc: Bruce Redwine
Subject: Re: [ilds] "Our most exalted alumni was Lawrence Durrell"

In his 1983 memoir, "From the Elephant's Back" (Fiction Magazine), LD writes, "I have seen the peak of Everest from the foot of my bed in a gaunt dormitory in Darjeeling" (p. 59).  In his biography of LD, MacNiven writes, "Here was an innocent example of fiction revising reality:  Larry wanted to remember it that way.  Everest is not visible from any point in Darjeeling" (p. 40).  I assume MacNiven takes this memoir, in part at least, as fiction — and for good reason.  In the same essay, LD also writes about his early experiences in India, "I have seen the Rope Trick when I was ten . . . My first language was Hindi" (p. 59).  The "Indian Rope Trick" is one of the great hoaxes of recent times, as Peter Lamont exposes in The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick:  How a Spectacular Hoax Became History (2004).  The "rope trick" never existed, but Durrell claims he saw it.  I seriously doubt that LD's "first language" was "Hindi."  Another lie.  Has anyone fully explained Durrell's propensity to lie?  Was it as "innocent" as MacNiven graciously says?


On Jun 18, 2010, at 9:06 PM, Charles Sligh wrote:

More news from the mountains of Tennessee.


Spy for Tibet finds karma in Tennessee
As told to Henry Hamman
Published: June 19 2010
I was educated at a Jesuit school in Darjeeling, St Joseph’s, the
usual kind of English-language school in India at the time. I was
there with the Dalai Lama’s youngest brother and other Tibetans. Our
most exalted alumni was Lawrence Durrell.

Charles L. Sligh
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
charles-sligh at utc.edu

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