Pritchett, “The Corsican Inn” (1932)

the corsican inn v.s. pritchett

Corsica. (Jeffrey Barry)

Another story that has Pritchett in draft mode, a story that, like Updike’s Morocco but without the bigotry, is more of a travelogue’s meal, in the highlands of Corsica, than a story. An unruly man in an inn, the innkeeper’s glares, the exclamations, the tempers, that sort of thing. A bit stereotypical: Corsicans and their tempers. That Pritchett overwriting that you never see even in young William Trevor: “Everything seemed to stand in isolation as though there were no audible communication between one thing and another, not even a thin intermediary wind.” But I liked his imagery of mountains as cathedrals, if also overdone for a story, but not for a journalistic travel piece:

Now I was mounting not only from ridge to ridge, wondering how it was possible for mortal road to go higher, but from silence to silence too: just as, when one walks in a cathedral, dead anthems of deepening stillness seem to come down from the walls to numb body and mind. These mountains were like cathedrals. At first they had seemed tumultuous in their confusion: then, as the road disposed valley and massif on either side, the summits were established with the majesty of towers. There were naves and aisles of granite and a transept of fine magnitude appeared upon which gleamed windows of rain. There were buttresses of out-flying spurs, and round green hills were put at their feet like chapels. Then I entered the silence of a dark moonless night.

The passage in the first paragraph has no connection to the story that follows, its characters, its thin intermediary outbursts. “Everything seemed to stand in isolation.”

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