ELLIOT PAUL'S
LOW RUN TIDE AND LAVA ROCK (1929)
with an APPENDIX on
Low Run Tide and Chekhov's "In the Ravine"

by Arnold Goldman


LOW RUN TIDE
(1929)

Paul set Low Run Tide in a backwater of Maine, a village "much the same since the first fishermen from England and France decided to stay the winter in America":

The occupations of the villagers varied with the seasons, taking them at times to sea, again far inland to the lumber woods. In the spring and summer they tended herring weirs or lobster pots, trapped eels and weeded their gardens, and the women who were not busy at home worked as packers in the sardine factory. The hot weather ripened the raspberries and in August the haddock swarmed between the islands of the bay. Then in the early fall, men, women and children, from the richest to the very poor, camped together on the blueberry plains which stretched for miles on the highlands beyond the station. The factory which canned blueberries in the autumn season, handled clams in the months which followed, and the lumber camps started cutting and hauling when the first snow came. Beneath the ice of the Steuben River, silver smelts ran in tens of thousands and muskrats could be trapped along the creeks. Ducks and geese from the Arctic settled on the ponds and marshes during their fall migration and the woods sheltered partridges and deer.

The passage has both a sweep and a conciseness lacking in his earlier novels lacked, and it shows that he took the advice he had been offering to Whit Burnett and Bravig Imbs. The life of Steuben is held in an apparently immemorial rhythm but one based on tight social arrangements that bind "the very poor" to "the richest," in particular to the Plummers and Bangses. Captain Varenus Plummer, formerly a ship’s master, like generations of his ancestors, runs a general store and owns and deals in land. He has outlived his wife, by whom he has had twins, Merrill and Emma, and a second son, the somewhat simple Claude. The twins "had always been antagonistic to one another," and Merrill, "his favorite," though "the first Plummer who wasn’t master of his own ship," had left Steuben for work near the Canadian border, returning only for holidays and to help at harvest time. Varenus takes a second wife, Lucy Maxwell, "two thirds his age." His daughter Emma, no longer mistress of the house, takes to running the store. She has rejected "the only man who ever came near her," Captain Bartholomew Bangs, "fifteen years her senior." A new family modus vivendi seems on the surface not to have troubled the underlying patterns of the family and the village.1

In January, Merrill returns unexpectedly. Lucy alone senses something is wrong, and Merrill, "who had a strange fondness for his step-mother," finally "blurted out [to her] that he had gotten Lettie Tizzer into trouble." During the blueberry-picking that September, he had in fact raped her. The shy daughter of a reprobate mother, Lucy had held her peace until she found herself pregnant, and then "had written him one letter and had told no one else." Fearing exposure and family disgrace, Merrill had returned, but found himself unable to act. Now he leaves Steuben again, "nearly as bewildered as before, but with the feeling that matters were in Lucy’s hands." Lucy tells Captain Varenus and Emma about Merrill and Lettie, and Emma "laughed aloud... so hard that she could not stop." A few days before the wedding Merrill returns in a new black suit, "more morose and silent than ever and Emma kept her eyes on him almost insolently throughout the meal, until he clenched his fists and clamped his jaws together." Entertaining the pregnant Lettie, the Plummer boys exhibit their stuffed two-headed and pig-headed calves: "Lettie could hardly keep from screaming." The only subject which brings animation to Merrill is his stories of his friend Toomey, an Irishman who is customs inspector at the Canadian-American border bridge.2

The wedding is an event for the whole village:

The guests at the head table found their names written on the paper napkins and sat down. There was a scraping of feet and benches on the floor and the hired girls brought in huge basins of steamed clams with pitchers of broth. After that was served a chowder which Captain Varenus had made himself, it being the one thing he would never trust to the women folk. Lobsters were thrown into the steaming washboilers and covered with seaweed, and the fires in both stoves in the hall, together with the heat from the guests assembled there, made it possible for the least ceremonious to hang their coats on the backs of the chairs and eat with perfect freedom. Shells clattered on the empty platters and were taken to the kitchen, where Mrs. Tizzer, Claude and the hired girls picked them over for the sweet claws which had been overlooked.

Accommodating comic touches, the rhythm of life seems to be absorbing the disruption that any individual plot complication might offer. But in the midst of the noise, heat and the minister’s vision of "brotherly love, seeing Varenus and Bangs so friendly," Lettie suffers a miscarriage:

"You’d better come out back," [Mrs Tizzer] whispered, "Lettie’s having trouble."
  Angrily Emma followed her to the shed behind the Grange Hall where she found Lettie in great pain. All at once it dawned on her what had taken place. She let go the girl’s arm and began to laugh at the top of her voice, stumbling back over the path to the kitchen with tears of laughter rolling down her ruddy cheeks. Seeing Merrill in the doorway, she stood facing him a moment, her eyes bright with mockery, and for the rest of the day was more gay than any one had ever seen her. She danced almost every dance with Captain Bartholomew....

Even so, matters seem to settle down, with Merrill returned to the family, but oddly neither settling to a job nor apparently in need of money. Toomey begins stopping overnight on his way south in a "pung loaded with gunnysacks which bulged like sacks of potatoes... covered with a thick tarpaulin." Varenus "couldn’t understand why a man should be hauling potatoes at that time of year," but as the routine of Toomey’s overnight stays in both directions become established, Varenus buys another team of horses which Toomey uses for the southern leg of his journeys.3

Emma’s resentment of her brother and her position in the family grows:

She knew her father and other men for whose judgment she had increasingly less respect, made money. The Bangs were getting more and more of a hold in the section of town around the factory. The old resentment she had felt as a girl because of her sex returned and the fact that her twin brother did nothing at all and still was given the best of everything inflamed her dislike for Merrill. Each week she took from the cash drawer, as recompense for what she did, a larger amount, reasoning that she was entitled to it.... But the more she acquired, the more she was impelled to be secretive about it.

She wants to build weirs for herring, as Captain Bartholomew Bangs is doing, but she needs a man to tend them and "keep his mouth shut." Bartholomew "would be discreet but still she could not bring herself to confide in him." In her anger, Emma turns on Varenus, demanding that Merrill be asked to pay his board, but Varenus, fearing Merrill will leave again, ducks the issue.4

Like the wedding, the annual Steuben fair seems to draw the Plummers back into the perennial rhythm of the village, though Lettie, who still fears the stuffed deformities (which Merrill now puts on exhibition), senses that

[e]verywhere outside... there was peace and gayety, in the cottages where the women sat sewing while their husbands read or smoked their pipes, in Bangs’ yellow house behind the sardine factory, in front of the store and around the post office. Only in the long, empty house in which she found herself, with its succession of rooms and hallways and its smoldering quarrels, was there loneliness and anxiety.

When Toomey pays one of his overnight visits, Lettie inadvertently backs into one of the gunnysacks, screams out that "it moved," and runs into the arms of Vic Perkins, the local tinker, something of an outsider, "vaguely uneasy because unexplainable facts had intruded upon a scene he knew so well." (Earlier, Lettie has imagined that the stuffed pig-headed calf had moved.) This is the night of the "low run tide, when the tops of ledges and derelicts otherwise submerged cropped up in unexpected quarters and the clam diggers edged out an extra fifteen yards part the regular tide line." So it will be with the Plummers.5

The next day, Merrill buys "a patch of blueberry land" from his father for twelve hundred dollars, and Varenus’s pleasure at this evidence of his son’s settling in Steuben overcomes his puzzlement at the source of the wealth. Emma’s sense of grievance is exacerbated when she sees the lawyer’s contract for the land. In the exuberance of the fair, however, Lettie is drawn to Merrill for the first time, but she is wakened to a shouted call - Toomey has been apprehended by the police; Merrill must flee. He takes a boat and tries for a nearby island, but in the fog, and the low tide, the boat runs aground: "When the earliest risers of Steuben came to the crossroads later, they saw him crouched aboard the stranded yawl on the glistening bar in midstream."6

Toomey has been running illegal Chinese immigrants across the border. The Plummers, son and father, are tried and found guilty, receiving sentences of five years and of six months. The court believes that Varenus must have understood what was going on. As far as Steuben is concerned, the illegality is less important than that Merrill "had intended to get away with the boat, and in a community where most of the boats had to be left more or less unguarded, to steal one was a serious matter." The tide is out for the Plummers. When Captain Bartholomew remarks on Lettie’s new pregnancy, Emma lashes out:

"[G]rabbing the bean pot from the back of the stove she shattered it on the floor, splashing hot beans from one end of the kitchen to the other. Through the fragrant steam she rushed up the stairs to the room above the kitchen and flung the window open. "Here you are," she said, and one by one she threw petticoats, hassocks, bedclothes, shoes and even the mantlepiece ornaments into the deep snow in the back yard. At last, with a crash the old wooden rockingchair went through the window frame and landed upside down on the walk.

It is, however, Emma’s last outburst, and "seemed to have drained her long accumulation of violence." Even though "she knew that [Bartholomew Bangs] still wanted her and was the only man she could stand, ...she could not make the gesture of surrender, and tears came to her eyes because of the barriers she encountered in her own nature and everywhere outside."7

By the time Varenus returns from prison, Lucy has lost her cheerful control of the house. The store is sold. Lettie’s baby is born, and Varenus contents himself with making toy sailboats for his grandson. To the villagers he looks like one of the... marsh herons, standing motionless and hunched on the shore. Appeals to his wisdom fail. Asked whether fish sleep, he can only reply, "in a puzzled tone, ‘I’m hanged if I know.’"8

This was the first but not the last time Paul would create a community whose rhythms seem immemorially fixed, apparently able to absorb human action beyond the perturbation of "history," only to have history intrude. Steuben’s rural peace has been obtained by a gulf fixed (and ignored) between the poor and the rich, with the latter increasing their hold as they move smoothly into modernity. One exemplar (Varenus), however, cannot hand on power and position into the next generation. This family is strangely bifurcated, on the one hand moving outside the community norms (Merrill) and on the other balked by cultural and psychological limitation (Emma). As a result, the family goes under, the returning tide closes over it, and the community goes on as before.9

LAVA ROCK (1929)

Like Low Run Tide, Lava Rock, about the construction of a great dam in an Idaho canyon, both plays a part in the plot and is a metaphor for it. The lava rock is at once what must be excavated, the place of the action and a metaphor for what is happening in the lives of the characters. The novel (or novella) begins with the scraping, digging and blasting of a canyon in the Boise Valley:

The canyon deepened as they worked father up-stream. On the opposite side the slope rose sheer, broken into horizontal strata with broad veins of purple lava rock, on levels ninety feet apart. Piles of broken lava stood at perilous angles by the river and ledges of disintegrated granite, pale brown, or rose and gray, showed through the low clusters of shrubs and sparse areas of grasses. For miles on either side were hills, bare in the foreground, wooded where the creek beds were, and forests in the distance. Everywhere lay the huge relics of prehistoric upheavals, of time uncoiling relentlessly, and nature’s perfunctory healing in the fading of colors.
  For there in its remoteness the lad had achieved an ancient dignity, like the sea. Terraced and lifted by successive plains and table-lands, the foothills shared the earth’s great curvature, its odor of dust and antiquity. And still, at the end of April, when the river was raging, the barren slopes burst out with white fragrant syringa blossoms, streaked with the slate-green of the foliage.

Though the characters seem dwarfed by the nature they have come to alter, the "historic upheavals" of their lives parallel it. They are caught up in its rhythms and absorbed into its remote, dignified, and "perfunctory" life.10

The geologist who is brought to the site is an elderly professor, almost comically out of place among the rough laborers, the foreman, contractor and even the chief engineer. But having "peered across to the lava flows,... cracked a rock with his pocket hammer or scratched a pebble with the diamond in his

ring," he declares, "‘That’s the place,’
...and his open hand described an arc from hill to hill across the river, as if he were touching a tangible shape." Everything follows from Professor Crosby’s gesture. Immediately, the engineer George Otis determines "to build a tunnel through the flat-topped hill on which they were standing, divert the river, then block up the canyon with a dam of concrete and bowlders."11

Chapter by chapter the great design unfolds. The laboring force grows by multiples of itself, Austrians, Bulgarians, Spaniards, Swedes. Like nature, "the job" is reckless of life. A worker dies through the foreman’s oversight, another is shot in a fight; his killer is knifed to death. The work proceeds. Women arrive to make households: they fear the brutality, the dynamite, but stay. The camp burns down; another is built. The first winter survived,

[t]he mail, which had been forwarded form the Boise office, became so voluminous that a post-office was established in camp and was called by the name of Lava Rock, Idaho. All available space had been settled up the creek and across the bridge where first the barber had located. Bunkhouses in ranks, and on three levels, covered the slopes below the works on the north side, and pile drivers, steam shovels, stiff-leg derricks, drills and centrifugal pumps thumped, roared, wheeled and gurgled twenty-four hours each day.12

Otis, the contractor James McGowan, and a few others have private houses. Through their wives, a fragile and strained social bond is established - though not so much as a "community," which Mrs McGowan knows she has never been part of. But what engrosses the men is the job, which must succeed completely or fail ignominiously, and which mentally and physically dominates their lives. The suffering of the women, more sensitive to the human scale, pains the men, too, and is indeed the expression of what they repress, but they remain in the grip of that which they are inexorably creating and being shaped by.

The pressures under which their intense involvement puts the little society begin to tell. Like the land, they are being excavated layer by layer, being scraped to the bone. A gap opens between George and Emily, recently married, which neither can cross. And while the stability of human relationships is threatened, heedless nature creates its own major challenge to the dam-builders. The spring thaw brings too much water onto the temporary structure, the cofferdam, behind which they are working:

If the river should get away from them, in two hours all signs of their excavation would be obliterated, the old channel would be level again, with sand, stones, machinery and men all scrambled together to fill the gap between the hills which they had painstakingly caused to be made.

To Otis, nature now takes on a revengeful power - "he saw the Boise gather itself, swell like an angry python and ram its full force against the hole in the hill." The cofferdam sags under the weight of water pressing against it. A pump fails. Otis faces ruin, and turns aside. Mary McKinnon, the barber’s wife, sees him:

She turned to go, then something in his expression stopped her.
  "You don’t look well," she said. And Otis began to cry. He leaned against the rail of the bridge, and tried to control his sobbing. She looked at him more closely and at once knew what was wrong. She had seen her six-foot brothers cave in from exhaustion many times before.

She takes him home and helps his wife to undress him and put him to bed. The next morning, still in a daze, Otis tells the men, "Clear the hole." Then,

A hundred feet downstream, a rock from the spillway above rolled down and smashed against a pile of bowlders. As Otis turned, involuntarily, to look in the direction from which it came, an idea stirred in his mind as if the sound of the rock had dislodged it.
  As eager now as he had been numb the moment before, he yelled to the master mechanic. There was one more way to reŽnforce the cofferdam.

At Otis’s direction the men lay a rail track across the top of the cofferdam, and a trainload of rock is positioned on it. The extra weight does the job - the structure holds; the waters recede.13

When the work subsequently becomes more likely of success, it seems paradoxically harder to bear. Otis becomes restless. Emily’s "suffering" and boredom is palliated by the arrival from Philadelphia of her brother Frank Townsend. Frank is, however, shocked at what he sees in his sister, and though he amuses her and himself for a time, western life palls on him, and he puts his mind to getting the Otises back east. The climactic event in the dam-building is the dynamiting which prepares for the water to flow into its new home, a spectacular blast which takes down the side of a mountain:

And then the earth was shaken with a dull concussion, a double shock and muffled noise. Ever so slowly, a horizontal rift widened on the face of the spillway hill, showing white lightning within, and more suddenly a downward zigzag split the rising mass obliquely.
  Blue light shimmered, shot with violet and indigo. Areas of sage brush floated intact an instant in the air, then sank like great gray parachutes, and beneath them, in steady streams, sand, dust and rocks slid away, and everything crumpled. Bowlders, tons and tons, showed dimly their moving shapes as smoke enveloped them and the rumbling of the avalanche down the canyon-side rose to a roar. It was incredibly graceful and deliberate. Masses of earth and rock collapsed and rolled to the mountain’s feet. Spiral volumes of black smoke burst like opals, with winking dull red eyes and silver serpents. The stillness between the hills was filled with sibilant sound and black clouds swirling and eddying upward.
  Then the smoke and whirling dust covered all, the shattered slope which stood no more, the neighboring hills on either side. The damp air held the smoke clouds together and let them drift, until faint light showed between them and the jagged cross-section of the spillway hill came gradually into sight.

To all intents and purposes, this act of grand destruction completes the grand design.14

The fates of individuals shadowily mime the aftermath of the blast. Frank Townsend arranges for an engineering job to be offered to Otis in Philadelphia, and he takes his sister back east to await Otis’s decision. Alone, Otis seeks out sympathetic company. Mary McKinnon "induced him to tell her about the dam. She had seen the camp grow, heard the blasts and the machines, watched the water gush from the tunnel outlet and the cableway buckets glide back and forth, but she was eager to understand it." Otis responds to her openness, but when he makes a gesture of affection, she holds back. He opts for Philadelphia and a kind of engineering which he finds repugnant, filled with political wrangling. He leaves the camp as soon as it is clear that the completed dam will function. The end is all anticlimax. The bunkhouses are torn down, the lumber salvaged. The men "scattered to all points of the compass," except the handful who will maintain the dam. Nature absorbs its new conformation and carries on as before.15

The idea of Lava Rock gave Paul the opportunity boldly to construct an enclosed world, to people it, build it up, show it functioning, and finally to dismantle it - an operation parallel to the creation of the dam itself. By comparison he had taken the established communities of his earlier fiction more for granted. Though fiction, the lives of its persons are so integral to the life of their surroundings that the tenor of the prose often seems as much a documentary as a novel, experimental writing but far from the acceptable ‘twenties experimentation. Perhaps this is why Paul expressed momentary doubt about it to Camille. From henceforth, however, Paul would draw strength again and again from confidence in his ability to create entire social fabrics in their multiform complexities.

APPENDIX

LOW RUN TIDE AND CHEKHOV’S "IN THE RAVINE"

Years later Martha Foley claimed to have recognised Low Run Tide as plagiarism:

Elliot gave Whit [Burnett] a copy of the manuscript of a novel he had written. Whit took it home to our apartment to read. I had just finished the English translation [by Constance Garnett] of In the Ravine, by Chekhov, which Elliot’s wife, Camille Haynes, had lent me, when Whit gave me Elliot’s manuscript. I read a few pages and screamed. "What’s the matter?" Whit asked. "Oh, no! it can’t be! I don’t believe it!" I told him. "Elliot has plagiarized Chekhov!"
  Except for the careful changing of Russian customs and foods to Down East ways, Elliot had copied Chekhov’s story word for word, moving it to Maine, and giving it the title of Low Run Tide. Caviar became baked beans and borscht became clam chowder. The next day Whit asked Elliot, "Have you ever read In the Ravine by Chekhov?" Elliot looked thoughtful, as if searching his memory, and answered, "I think I did. A long time ago in a French translation."

Low Run Tide is indeed indebted to "In the Ravine," but never "word for word" and nowhere slavishly.1

Chekhov set "In the Ravine" (1900) in the out-of-the way village of Ukleevo. Steuben, Maine is similarly placed, but is even more remote. A shopkeeper, Grigory Petrovitch Tsybukin, has an elder son, Anisim, "in the police in the detective department," and a younger son, Stepan, "weak in health and deaf." Stepan marries Aksinya, who "began to display an extraordinary gift for business." (The twin sister Ellen takes this role in Low Run Tide, and the younger Plummer brother remains unmarried.) Tsybukin marries again, as does Varenus Plummer, and Varvara Nikolaevna brightens the house, as will Lucy Maxwell. Anisim comes home "very rarely," but on one occasion "just before Carnival" he arrives unexpectedly, "looking anxious and troubled." He feels he should have a bride and one is found for him, Lipa, handsome but poor, from a nearby village. (There is no rape, no pregnancy.) Anisim leaves, pleased with himself and returns "three days before the wedding, rigged out in new clothes from top to toe," as Merrill Plummer does later. He gives gifts of shiny new roubles to his father, step-mother and sister-in-law. He speaks enthusiastically of his "inseparable" friend Samorodov, "black like an Armenian," from whom Paul would create the Irishman Toomey.2

Anisim is emotional but abstracted at the wedding service: "he felt heavy at heart; he prayed and besought God that the misfortunes that threatened him and that were ready to burst upon him to-morrow, if not today, might somehow pass by as storm-clouds in time of drought pass over the village." But the wedding goes off boisterously, Aksinya clearly well in with another local family of wealth, who "were free in their behaviour to her." Anisim rejects his father’s request that he "stay at home in the business" ("It can’t be done, papa"), and he leaves his bride behind. She confesses to her friend the carpenter, from whom Paul would create the tinker Vic Perkins, that she is afraid of Aksinya, who is being led astray by her friends. Anisim had confessed to his step-mother that "Samorodov has got me mixed up in something: I shall either make my fortune or come to grief," but he cannot resist using other shiny roubles, which when exchanged at the Fair are found to be counterfeit. Tsybukin is at first unwilling to believe his son is at fault but on inspecting the gift money realises it is true.3

Anisim is "put in prison for coining and passing bad money.... It seemed as though a shadow had fallen upon the house." He gets six years’ hard labor in Siberia. Tsybukin’s "strength is on the wane," and though he is not suspected of criminality - unlike Varenus Plummer - he worries that he has mixed up good money with the bad. A son Nikifor is born to Anisim and Lupa, and Tsybukin, on returning from the trial visits him and settles property on him which will make the infant his aunt Askinya’s landlord in course of time. She bursts out in a rage compounded with greed:

She closed the shop..., gathered together all the keys she had, and flung them at her father-in-law’s feet.
  "I am not going on working for you," she began in a loud voice, and suddenly broke into sobs. "It seems I am not your daughter-in-law, but a servant! Everybody’s jeering and saying, ‘See what a servant the Tsybukins have got hold of!..."
  She... she fixed upon her father-in-law eyes full of tears, vindictive, squinting with wrath; ...and she was shouting at the top of her voice.
  "I don’t mean to go on being a slave!" she went on. "I am worn out. When it is work, when it is sitting in the shop day in and day out, scurrying out at night for vodka - then it is my share, but when it is giving away the land then it is for that convict’s wife and her imp.... Give her everything, the convict’s wife, and may it choke her! I am going home! Find yourselves some other fool, you damned Herods!"
  ...You are all a gang of thieves here!... You have robbed folks coming in and going out;... And who has been selling vodka without a license? And false money? You’ve filled boxes full of false coins....

She runs into the kitchen, sees the infant on the floor, "snatched up [a] ladle with... boiling water and flung it over Nikifor." Lipa screams. The infant dies. Emma Plummer is no murderess and her outburst ends her protests and her plans for business. In Ukleevo, three years later "everything has passed into Aksinya’s hands." She is in partnership with her business friends. Tsybukin is broken, as will be Varenus Plummer after him.4

Paul used and adapted Chekhov’s plot, as Foley had discerned, but developed other themes and another rhythm of events, wholly naturalising it to his Down East setting. Absorbing in its recreativity of Chekhov’s story, plagiarism it isn’t.


NOTES

1 Paul, Low Run Tide and Lava Rock (New York: Horace Liveright, Inc., 1929), 9, 11, 12, 74, 14, 14. Local residents consulted believe Paul "used three towns to make what is called Steuben in the book. The towns border each other. They are Steuben, Milbridge, and Cherryfield. As you can see, the author uses variations of the name throughout the story.... When describing the store, crossroads, and woodcutting area, it is in Steuben. When describing the river, fish factory, bridge, and dike, it is Milbridge. When he tells of the fair and blueberry fields, it is Cherryfield" (Ronald Parritt to AG, 20 June 1999).
2 Ibid., 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31, 32.
3 Ibid., 40-41, 42, 43, 46, 47.
4 Ibid., 53, 54; see also 76-77.
5 Ibid., 64, 68, 70, 70.
6 Ibid., 91.
7 Ibid., 98, 107-08, 115, 116. The character of Emma Plummer would be extended by Paul in that of Alberta Snyder in The Amazon (New York: Horace Liveright, Inc., 1930)..
8 Ibid., 124.
9 On the popular suspicion of twins, see Ibid., 20 and 60. For Martha Foley’s accusation that Low Run Tide is a plagiarism of Chekhov’s "In the Ravine," see Appendix.
10 Paul, Lava Rock, in Low Run Tide and Lava Rock, 134-35.
11 Ibid., 137, 138, 139.
12 Ibid., 177.
13 Ibid., 236, 238, 245, 249, 250.
14 Ibid., 288-89.
15 Ibid., 302, 305.

NOTES TO THE APPENDIX

1 Martha Foley, The Story of Story Magazine, ed. Jay Neugeboren (London and New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1980), 73; my emphasis. In an undated, unpublished Forward to Low Run Tide, Paul wrote, "I wish to disclaim any originality as to plot, since all the elements of its narrative are to be found in the Theseus myth.... I have paralleled certain situations made familiar by Chekhof [sic] and more recently by the late Franz Kafka in Germany" (University of Colorado at Boulder Library, Camille Cummings Collection, Box 24).
2 Anton Chekhov, "In the Ravine," in The Witch and Other Stories, trans. Constance Garnett (London and New York: Macmillan Company, 1918), 178, 179, 184, 188, 190.
3 Ibid., 192, 196, 202, 200.
4 Ibid., 213, 214, 220-21, 223, 232.


This analysis of Low Run Tide and Lava Rock and the comparison of Low Run Tide with Chekhov's "In the Ravine" are taken from Arnold Goldman's biography-in-progress of Elliot Paul. ©Arnold Goldman 2001.

go to the Elliot Paul bibliography

go to the Elliot Paul homepage

go back to the top of the page