London Stories: Mysterious Kôr by Elizabeth Bowen

London Stories

Full moonlight drenched the city and searched it; there was not a niche left to stand in. The effect was remorseless: London looked like the moon’s capital – shallow, cratered, extinct. It was late, but not yet midnight; now the buses had stopped the polished roads and streets in this region sent for minutes together a ghostly unbroken reflection up. The soaring new flats and the crouching old shops and houses looked equally brittle under the moon, which blazed in windows that looked its way. The futility of the black-out became laughable: from the sky, presumably, you could see every slate in the roofs, every whited kerb, every contour of the naked winter flowerbeds in the park; and the lake, with its shining twists and tree-darkened islands would be a landmark for miles, yes, miles, overhead.

On this particular night during the Blitz in London, Arthur, a soldier home on leave is roaming around with his girlfriend, Pepita with no place they could go to where they can be alone. Pepita lives in a tiny apartment with Callie, and the tactless Callie who never had a boyfriend intends to play hostess without realizing the couple is yearning for privacy. So Pepita describes the dreamlike, deserted city of Kor from a poem, a place Pepita likes to escape to when the reality of the war and over-crowded London become unbearable to her, to Arthur.

Elizabeth Bowen’s descriptions of both London and Kor are evocative. However, to fully understand the symbolism and its implications for the interpretation of the plot, I had to rely on the internet, and I realized they can be interpreted in many different ways, so it made the story too complicated for my taste! 😐

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One comment

  1. […] is my second story by Bowen, and given that Bowen didn’t make much of an impression on me last time, I was thankful for this second […]

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