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Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
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Under the Volcano (1947)

by Malcolm Lowry

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,532682,490 (3.81)224
"Set in Mexico on the eve of WWII, the story tells of a man in extremis, an alcoholic consul bursting with regret, longing, resentment and remorse, whose climactic moment rapidly approaches..."---Editorial review from www.amazon.com
  1. 20
    Post Office by Charles Bukowski (mArC0)
    mArC0: Self-destruction through alcohol and denial; Write what you know: both protagonists destroy themselves though alcohol and denial.
  2. 00
    A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley (laura.aviva)
    laura.aviva: Both have incredible writing and often require a dictionary, which happens to be my favorite kind of book. Alcoholic outsiders hell bent on isolating themselves from all that they hold dear. Riveting.
  3. 00
    Klingsor's Last Summer by Hermann Hesse (chrisharpe)
  4. 00
    The Blind Owl by Ṣādiq Hidāyat (chrisharpe)
  5. 22
    Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (chrisharpe)
  6. 01
    Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy (WSB7)
    WSB7: Strong perspectival imagery overhanging(pursuing?)a doomed hero.
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» See also 224 mentions

English (57)  French (6)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (68)
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Satisfying at every level, Under the Volcano yields vivid imagery and intense inner psychological drama as well as fulfilling the expectations of high modernism in form, language, and symbolism. The Consul and those about him are caught up in a vortex of fragmentation and despair, all of which is reflected in the form of the novel as well as its storyline. Lowry's work encounters the abyss of the twentieth century and acknowledges its mastery over humanity.

Reading Under the Volcano only reinforces the feeling I have about the failed state of the contemporary novel. Too much produced today is academic and derivative. Writers spend entire careers cocooned in the safety of tenured professorships, ever renewing grants, and fund generating workshops. Then there is the network of multiplying prizes and the incestuous panels of reviewers and their journals. By the time contemporary writers have made their mark among publishers, their writing has become a dried out husk, overlaid with allusions to techniques and styles that emerged from someone like Lowry organically. His, Lowry's, was among the last gasps of serious and great literature perhaps because it owed nothing to expectations or the conventions of the intelligentsia. ( )
  PaulCornelius | Apr 12, 2020 |
Mm pretty boring but a special writer. Good to have read but now for something more entertaining. ( )
  DannyKeep | Feb 11, 2020 |
Completed this book which has been on my shelf for a long time and has been most intimidating. And I can only echo what others say, this book requires slow reading and probably 2 or more times. There is so much here to take in. It reminded me of Ulysses by James Joyce.

The book is about an alcoholic ex-consul, his estranged wife, his half brother and it occurs in 1 day. The book is divided into 12 chapters. The first chapter is a scene a year later after the fatal day. Each chapter is from a different POV. The book is also full of symbolism. Some I caught and some I didn't. The Volcanos that the city is set between is obvious. The day that the story occurs is the The Day of the Dead.

Having just read Memory of Fire by Galeano added to my insights into this book that is set in Mexico in the thirties just before WWII. The main character has been a British consul in Mexico.

There is a guide to each chapter in Wikipedia that I did find helpful. This is a book that is better read with a guide than not, in my opinion. I do hope I read this book again someday. ( )
  Kristelh | Jan 6, 2020 |
Although I read this book straight through, with relatively few interruptions, I've never been more aware of Nabokov's dictum that "one cannot read a book: one can only reread it."

I barely scratched the surface of this novel. The prose expertly balances the natural dissolution of each character's thoughts with effortlessly structured literary devices - weaving metaphor and allusion into the settings and interior life of each character - and Lowry is able to keep all of it just beyond the grasp of everyone involved.

There was so much going on in this novel that it was too hard to navigate without a guide. However, there's no better guide than a first reading and I'm curious to see what I get out of this book the second time around.

( )
  Adrian_Astur_Alvarez | Dec 3, 2019 |
Although I read this book straight through, with relatively few interruptions, I've never been more aware of Nabokov's dictum that "one cannot read a book: one can only reread it."

I barely scratched the surface of this novel. The prose expertly balances the natural dissolution of each character's thoughts with effortlessly structured literary devices - weaving metaphor and allusion into the settings and interior life of each character - and Lowry is able to keep all of it just beyond the grasp of everyone involved.

There was so much going on in this novel that it was too hard to navigate without a guide. However, there's no better guide than a first reading and I'm curious to see what I get out of this book the second time around.

( )
  Adrian_Astur_Alvarez | Dec 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lowry, Malcolmprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bergsma, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pedrolo, Manuel deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spender, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vandenbergh, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
LE GUSTA ESTE JARDIN
QUE ES SUYO?
EVITE QUE SUS HIJOS LO DESTRUYAN!
(finale)
Dedication
First words
Two mountain chains traverse the republic roughly from north to south, forming between them a number of valleys and plateaus.
Quotations
"A little self-knowledge is a dangerous thing."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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