Sunday, 17 June 2012

Saint-Prest, France

Saint-Prest is a commune in the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France. Lowry stayed in the commune with Maurice Sachs and Henry Wibbels in May 1934.

They stayed at the Hotel du Pont. In an unpublished letter written from the hotel to Jan referenced by Gordon Bowker, Lowry wrote to her describing that the Hotel du Pont was the perfect place for them to live. However, he also stated things were not working out as on of his companions was romancing the gardener, the other pursuing an oboe player (Gordon Bowker Pursued By Furies Pg. 179). He also wrote to Sylvia Beach from the hotel apologising for not paying for a book.

Lowry refers to the commune in the short story 'Hotel Room in Chartres'; "The train was passing St. Prest..." (Psalms Pg. 23).

While he stayed in the commune, he walked the fields to Chartres. A walk that Jacques Laruelle recalls in Under The Volcano, a memory evoked by his passion for Yvonne:

walking over the meadows from Saint Pres, the sleepy French village of backwaters and locks and grey disused watermills where he was lodging, he had seen, rising slowly and wonderfully and with boundless beauty above the stubble fields blowing with wildflowers, slowly rising sunlight, as centuries before the pilgrims straying over the same fields had watched them rise, the twin spires of Chartres Cathedral. His love had brought a peace, for all too short a while, there was strangely like the enchantment, the spell, of Chartres itself, long ago, whose every side-street he had come to love and cafe where he would gaze at the Cathedral eternally sailing against the clouds, the spell not even the fact he was scandalously in debt there could break.

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