Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Passy (PAH-see). Small community on the western edge of Paris, where Peter Ibbetson spends his childhood. Idealizing his own childhood, George du Maurier created an edenic setting for Peter. Passy is a place of freshness and innocence, filled with beautiful people, music, and flowers such as “roses, nasturtiums and convolvulus, wall-flowers, sweet-pease and carnations,” all seeming to be perpetually in bloom. Memories of this childhood home, of idealized family, friends, and school, give Peter a rich inner life which sustains him when his parents die and he moves to England to live with his uncle, Colonel Ibbetson. As an adult, Peter revisits Passy but finds it altered for the worse. The Passy of his youth is the place of his outer life when he is a child and the predominant locale of his inner dream life when he is an adult.


*Paris. Capital of France and the location of many of Peter’s boyhood adventures. Through Peter, du Maurier vividly describes the sights, sounds, and scents of old Paris. At times, the novel reads almost like a guide book to Paris, with lists of historical places that Peter and his friends frequent: the Island of St. Louis, the Island of the City, the Pont Neuf, and the winding streets and alleyways that were destroyed when Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann undertook the renovation of Paris. Old Paris is further romanticized as Peter’s reading of novels colors his vision of the city. Peter, the adult, feels nostalgia for the Paris of his youth when he returns and sees the changes in the city.


*Pentonville. London suburb in which...

(The entire section is 681 words.)