Wordsworth: Avalon

November 30, 1990|By Joseph Gallagher

BARRY LEVINSON'S latest movie, ''Avalon,'' stirs memories of the rich historical meaning of its title, ignored by the film. George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, established his original colony, Avalon (1623), in easternmost Canada on the island of Newfoundland. The weather proved too severe, so the colony was abandoned. The name survives there in the Avalon Peninsula, off of whose coast Roosevelt and Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter in 1941.

Calvert asked England's King Charles I for a more temperate grant, and the result was a New Avalon -- Maryland (1634) -- in whose chief city Levinson's hero arrives in 1914. In Celtic mythology Avalon (''Isle of Apples?'') is the abode of the blessed dead, pre-eminently King Arthur. First lodging in a hotel named Avalon, Levinson's immigrant hero finds and loses paradise in Baltimore. As a child I saw my first movies at a theater named Avalon on Baltimore's Park Heights Avenue.

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