Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Chancellet (shahnz-ih-LAY). Village near Paris in France. One of the “least changed” villages after World War I, Chancellet lies along the highway from Paris to Orleans and the tourist country of the Loire River. Busy automobile traffic through the village symbolizes the restless and rootless generation of the postwar 1920’s, when foreigners’ paths often intersected in France or other popular places during their journeys from place to place.

The Cullens, an Irish couple, seeking to escape the unpleasant consequences of their involvement with Irish revolutionaries, are stopping over in Paris during their automobile trip to Hungary, where they have rented a property. They take advantage of their stopover to visit their American friend, Alexandra Henry, who has a house in the village, a short distance from Paris. They bring along their Irish chauffeur and a pilgrim hawk named Lucy, an unexpected “guest” that Mrs. Cullen is training to hunt.

Alexandra Henry’s house

Alexandra Henry’s house. Chancellet home of the American expatriate Alexandra Henry. Located directly on the village street, the house combines two small dwellings and a large horse stable, rebuilt and furnished in a modern style. Alwyn Tower, Alex’s houseguest who narrates the story from a vantage point ten years in the future, points out the architect’s mistake in placing the dining room and chief guestroom on the street, where all the noise of the highway traffic and frequent close brushes with heavy trucks interfere with dinner conversation and nightly rest.

The house’s living room is a converted stable with the hayloft removed, so that the old chestnut rafters stretching thirty feet to the roof give a Gothic feeling to the otherwise...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Johnson, Ira. Glenway Wescott: The Paradox of Voice. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1971. A chapter on The Pilgrim Hawk provides a comprehensive analysis of the novel that focuses on its composition, characterization, use of symbols, treatment of the theme of love, and Wescott’s integration of autobiographical elements.

Phelps, Robert, and Jerry Rosco, eds. Continual Lessons: The Journals of Glenway Wescott. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1990. Excellent source for determining Wescott’s ideas about the value of The Pilgrim Hawk. Includes comments on the novel’s composition and publication history, as well as brief remarks by the novelist about thematic issues.

Rueckert, William H. Glenway Wescott. New York: Twayne, 1965. General study of the writer’s literary achievements. Places The Pilgrim Hawk in the context of Wescott’s career, seeing it as part of a trilogy that includes The Grandmother (1927) and The Apple of the Eye (1924); together these form a “symbolic autobiography” of the novelist.

Schorer, C. E. “The Maturing of Glenway Wescott.” In Twentieth-Century American Literature, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. Discusses The Pilgrim Hawk as an international novel and links Wescott with other American authors of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Reviews the novel’s organization and comments on Wescott’s style.

Zaubel, Morton Dauwen. Craft and Character in Modern Fiction. New York: Viking Press, 1957. In the chapter entitled “The Whisper of the Devil,” Zaubel provides extensive commentary on The Pilgrim Hawk and discusses techniques Wescott employs in his fiction.