Carol _ Labyrinths
"A maze is designed
so that we get to be part of the art... The whole thing about
mazes is that they make perfect sense only when you look down
on them from above... Mazes are refuges from confusion, really.
An orderly path for the persevering. Procession without congestion.I
just think that we need little stopping places now and then to
crawl into. It's our scared animal selves pushing forward. Making
burrows and then trying to find our way out again." Carol
Shields, Larry's Party
Carol Explores Labyrinths
|Carol was fascinated with labyrinths. She and Don went
to Hampton Court in early 2000 with the camerman and the director
of the film that was being made about her for the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation's Life and Times biography series. It is in the maze at
Hampton Court that the fictional Larry of Carol's novel Larry's Party
has his epiphany regarding his place in the universe and his future
as a maze designer.
Photo courtesy Jeff Saward.
To view his site click
||Carol and Don had been there once before
in 1956 when they were courting. Back then they had to push their
way through the hedges (which Don claims was, technically, cheating)
in order to get out of the maze. Now you cannot do that because there
are wire fences hidden in the hedges. In 2000 Carol took a copy of
Larry's Party with her. In the book there is an explanation of just
how to find the centre of the Hampton Court Maze. With book in hand,
Carol was going to show Don and the film crew how to get to the centre.
Needless to say she kept going round and round in circles, coming
back to her starting point without reaching the centre. Carol was
convinced that the instructions in her book were correct - so she
tried three times. Always with the same result. There is the wonderful
moment in the Life and Times film where at the end of the third round
Carol looks at the camera, bewildered, and says "I am completely
Larry Weller's Labyrinth Journey
"History, it seemed
to Larry, left strange details behind, mostly meaningless: odd and
foolish gadgets, tools that had become separated from their purpose,
whimsical notions, curious turnings, a surprising number of dead
ends." Carol Shields, Larry's Party
When Carol brings Larry to the centre of the labyrinth his confusion
turns into revelation when he has an epiphany about his life. He discovers
that he can move beyond what he is and this new-found courage results
in his becoming a maze designer.
"He has never been
able to identify what happened to him during the hour he wandered
lost and dazed and separated from the others, but he remembers he
felt a joyous rising of spirit that was related in some way to the
self's dimpled plasticity. He could move beyond what he was, the
puzzling hedges seemed to announce, he could become someone other
than Larry Weller, shockingly new husband of Dorrie Shaw, non-speculative
citizen of a former colony, a man of limited imagination and few
choices." Carol Shields, Larry's Party
Larry follows the pathway to self-discovery that is embodied in the great
labyrinth myths such as Theseus and the Minotaur, Joshua and the Battle
of Jericho, the Trojan War.
Photos courtesy Jeff Saward. To view his
These myths exist in almost every culture and every continent and have
been reaching out to us for thousands of years. They were what pulled
at Carol's heart from the moment she stepped into Hampton Court Maze.This
eternal story was, for Carol, a concept of the complexity of life.
something frightening and at the same time, comforting (about labyrinths).
The orderly boundaries. And there's an exit. You're promised an
exit; you're promised a goal. These things are built into the maze
sequence." 1997 Interview with Carol Shields when she was on
tour promoting Larry's Party, for Boswell Literary Magazine.
Lipton Street, Winnipeg
After his epiphany, Larry comes back to his home on Lipton Street in
Winnipeg. He embarks on a career as a labyrinth designer that takes him
from Winnipeg to Chicago and then to Toronto. He designs labyrinths in
Winnipeg's West Kildonan; River Forest, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee;
Milwaukee and Muncie, Indiana.
|In his travels, he and his second wife, Beth, visit
actual labyrinth sites. They start with the original site of the Hollywood
stone, the oldest dateable labyrinth in the British Isles, 550 AD.
Because the actual stone had been moved from the site, they visit
the Museum of Antiquities in Dublin to see it. They also visit the
Leeds Castle Maze and the labyrinth at Longleat House, Wiltshire.
Winnipeg labyrinth designer Larry Weller moves out into the world
and creates an international reputation for himself just as Carol
created an international reputation and distinction for Winnipeg by
featuring it in her novels.