Tuesday, May 16, 2017


The title to Thomas Wolfe's  first and most famous novel was almost Alone, Alone, borrowed, he said, "from the poem I like best, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner;" then it evolved to O, Lost!; finally, when his publisher asked for something more inspired, Wolfe went to Milton:
      . . . Ay me! Whilst thee the shores, and sounding Seas
      Wash far away, where ere thy bones are hurld,
      Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
      Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide
      Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world;
      Or whether thou to our moist vows deny'd,
      Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old,
      Where the great vision of the guarded Mount
      Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold;
      Look homeward Angel now, and melt with ruth.

    In the novel, the angel is sold to the local madam as a marker for the grave of a young prostitute. Many contemporary residents of Asheville were horrified to discover that Wolfe's book contained such details, and such recognizable portraits of themselves and their neighbors.

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