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Under the Volcano (1947)

by Malcolm Lowry

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,745752,442 (3.8)230
"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 by Cormac McCarthy (WSB7)
    WSB7: Strong perspectival imagery overhanging(pursuing?)a doomed hero.
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» See also 230 mentions

English (63)  French (6)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (75)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
This novel has already been anointed by knowledgeable reviewers to be a “masterpiece” and “one of the greatest novels of the 20th century” and I’m not literary enough to dispute their judgments.

The book was a challenge for me. It would be difficult to read it in one sitting, but that would probably be a better approach than reading it over three weeks, like I did. I’m visiting in London right now and reading this book for me was like to trying to navigate through these streets. You find the street you are looking for and start following it, enjoying the sights and the next thing you know, the street name is changed and you have no clue where you are.

There are countless reviews of this book that more aptly summarize it so I won’t bother. As a writer, I’m in awe of Lowry’s ability to paint a scene with an incredible level of detail. As we make this day long journey it is as if the narrators have sensory cameras perched on their shoulders. We see, hear, feel, smell everything. It’s at times overwhelming.

A tragic tale of a life disintegrating.
( )
  LenJoy | Mar 14, 2021 |
A long read - every page full of words, thoughts, emotion, places and people. Not sure if this is stream of conciousness or a long prose poem. The single day of Geoffrey Firmin has taken me nearly a month to read but the writing is so vivid and the content so enthralling I never lost track of where we were. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
Dense and delicious prose—every page drips in tropical vibrance. Dense and demanding references—the setting so esoteric that I could not, did not, belong.

Not for me, despite the canon's rave. ( )
  _janson_ | Jan 22, 2021 |
Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic English consul in Mexico is in the final state of his disease. He is experiencing the shakes, exhaustion, delirium tremens, and an overwhelming desire to get another drink to ease his pain. He thinks this will make him appears sober. His wife, Yvonne, who had left him has returned in hopes of saving their marriage.

A short time before her arrival his younger brother, Hugh, has also come for a visit. Hugh, a musician and former member of the merchant marine, is filled with thoughts about the ongoing civil war in Spain. It’s November 1938, and as a leftist partisan he’s concerned with the fascist advances in the ongoing Battle at the river Ebro. He is also in love with Yvonne.

Geoffrey suspects that Hugh and Yvonne are having an affair, and, worse than that, they are plotting to sober him up. While he fantasizes about an idyllic marriage with Yvonne, it’s not enough to drive the thoughts of where do I get my next drink? from his mind. Nevertheless, he agrees to accompany Hugh and Yvonne on an excursion by bus to a fiesta and a bullfight in a nearby city. The day trip does not end well.

Filled with symbolism and allusion and structured to be an update on Dante’s Inferno, and, in spite of its descent into darkness plot, this novel is a masterpiece of literary art. This 1984 edition comes with a helpful introduction by Stephen Spender highlighting the author’s autobiographical source material and his cinematic and literary techniques. ( )
  MaowangVater | Nov 11, 2020 |
An extraordinary book. One of my all-time favourites.
  GeorgeHandel | Aug 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (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.)
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"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

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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