[ilds] private kingdoms

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Tue May 17 10:24:53 PDT 2011

On 5/17/11 12:26 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:

>         There is something scary about "The Roof of the World,"
>         although I think Durrell handles the idyll very well[. . . .] 
>         It's worthwhile to note that /The Dark Labyrinth/ does not end
>         at "The Roof of the World," rather in the real world with all
>         its problems, unresolved and mystifying, of course.

Excellent post, Bruce.

What you say about the "ending" is true from a certain standpoint.  The 
book does in fact continue with another chapter after "The Roof of the 

And then, to be precise, after "At Cefalu," it loops right back on 
itself, like the Worm Ouroboros -- starting again in "The Argument" -- 
right?  (Help me with this.  I think this is what happens, but I can't 
be certain.)

However, I would also observe that, if we are to understand that the 
helicopter never comes and the Trumans never leave the Roof, then, for 
that couple, the story and the "meaning" come to an Apocalypse with the 
reader's last access to their relative experience.

>         "I feel," said Truman, struggling with the inadequacies of his
>         vocabulary.  I feel O.C. Universe," and his wife lying down
>         with her hands behind her head, smiled up her content and
>         happiness as she chewed a grass-stalk.  She had realized that
>         the roof of the world did not really exist, except in their
>         own imaginations!

That "smile" seems an important counterbalance against the earlier 
feeling of entrapment, which David has rightly noted is claustrophobic 
and frightening.  But perhaps the Trumans have moved past that lesser, 
initial perception?  Perhaps it was all a matter of practical footwear 
-- something oft-emphasized in this book.

I should also mention the possibility of Elsie Truman's pregnancy, but I 
can't say what it portends.

Likewise, the points of "meaning" for Fearmax, Miss Dombey, and Campion 
come with their individually Apocalyptic moments.  There are numerous 
forks in this story, some with dead ends, some with cul-de-sacs, some 
open, leaps of faith.

The affairs of Graecen, Axelos, Baird, the Abbot, Virginia Dale, &c. 
/seem/ to go on.  We do not have their after-stories.  Instead, we have 
the worm eating its own tail.

Right before that, we do have the following libation:

>         But Axelos silently contented himself by pouring out the dark
>         sweet wine into the glasses and sighing. 


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

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