Sunday, 6 May 2012

Ruelle de la Demi-Lune

Lowry mentions "Ruelle de la Demi-Lune" in 'Hotel Room In Chartres'. However, he may be referring to a stay in Rouen around the time that the story is set. Ruelle de la Demi-Lune was on the outskirts of Rouen in an area called Deville-les-Rouen. The lane has been lost by new road systems but the Place de Demi- Lune still exists and in the 1930s had several hotels and bars. The Lowrys sent a postcard to Jan's mother saying it was the kind of town they would like to live in. (Gordon Bowker Pursued By Furies Pg. 176). Jan Gabrial recalls Rouen: "Ah, Ruelle de la Demi-Lune, where love was everything and memory, like a muted string, is hushed and small" (Inside the Volcano Pg. 63).

Chris Ackerley on his Under The Volcano website also suggests a link between "Ruelle de la Demi-Lune" and the character Laruelle in Lowry's Under The Volcano:

A ruelle is a small street or lane, but in bedrooms of the French monarchs of the Golden Age, a narrow area between the royal bed and wall, where attendants kept vigil over their sleeping monarchs, and into which the royal mistresses might be introduced. The strong sexual connotations of the word are present in Baudelaire's "Tu mettrais l'univers entier dans ta ruelle / Femme impure!" ("You would put the entire universe into your alley, / impure woman" [Les Fleurs du Mal, XXV]). Given the circular structure ofUnder the Volcano and its de casibus theme, Laruelle's surname may evoke La Roue, the Wheel of Fortune ( Tony Kilgallin Lowry Pg.156], while his Christian name hints at his compatriot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau [see #310.16], whose sexual mores were no better than they should have been.

Lowry's short story, ‘Hotel Room in Chartres’, mentions the ‘Ruelle de la Demi-Lune’ and the ‘Café Jacques Restaurant Bar du Cinéma’ (Psalms Pg.20); a further hint of the cuckold's horn, despite the happy ending of the story. Laruelle (Under The Volcano 12), associates his "passion for Yvonne" with the sight of Chartres Cathedral. 

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