To the Dark Tower Came


Wolfe's comments from the Introduction to Storeys from the Old Hotel

"Once in a rare while, I have a dream so vivid and organized that it can be written with a minimum of polishing; these dreams are always nightmares, like 'To the Dark Tower Came'. I can't imagine why anyone would want to psychoanalyze me, but if anybody does, that's the place to start."


Two courtiers, Kent and Gloucester, are within a mysterious tower of extraordinary size. They fight a vampire and giant rats. The senile king they serve seems to be rejuvenated during the story as a boy. At the end, Kent, severely wounded by a rat, is about to jump from the tower. The overall tone is allegorical, allusive, and mystically dreamlike.


  • The epigraph is from Shakespeare's King Lear, Act III, Scene 4, and references the ancient Childe Rowland legend, which has thematic links with the story (as does King Lear itself).
  • Kent and Gloucester (the Earls thereof) are courtiers to the senile Lear in King Lear.
  • Kent refers to one of his ancestors who had the ability to fly, with a red silk cloak, and for whom "bullets ricocheted from his chest" -- references to Clark Kent / Superman. The story culminates with another allusion to Superman when Kent expresses his intent to "leap this tall building" in a "single bound."
  • Kent seems to be quite young and small. He can fit through a window which is only as wide as the length of a man's forearm. The king called him Youth, and Gloucester he called Learning.

Unresolved Questions

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