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Under the Volcano: A Novel Paperback – April 10, 2007
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"[Lowry's] masterpiece ... has a claim to being regarded as one of the ten most consequential works of fiction produced in this century.... It reflects the special genius of Lowry, a writer with a poet's command of the language and a novelist's capacity to translate autobiographical details into a universal statement".
-- Los Angeles Times
"One of the towering novels of this century."--"New York Times"[Lowry's] masterpiece...has a claim to being regarded as one of the ten most consequential works of fiction produced in this century...It reflects the special genius of Lowry, a writer with a poet's command of the language and a novelist's capacity to translate autobiographical details into a universal statement."--"Los Angeles Times"The book obviously belongs with the most original and creative novels of our time."--Alfred Kazin
From the Back Cover
Geoffrey Firmin, a former British consul, has come to Quauhnahuac, Mexico. His debilitating malaise is drinking, an activity that has overshadowed his life. On the most fateful day of the consul's life—the Day of the Dead, 1938—his wife, Yvonne, arrives in Quauhnahuac, inspired by a vision of life together away from Mexico and the circumstances that have driven their relationship to the brink of collapse. She is determined to rescue Firmin and their failing marriage, but her mission is further complicated by the presence of Hugh, the consul's half brother, and Jacques, a childhood friend. The events of this one significant day unfold against an unforgettable backdrop of a Mexico at once magical and diabolical.
Under the Volcano remains one of literature's most powerful and lyrical statements on the human condition, and a brilliant portrayal of one man's constant struggle against the elemental forces that threaten to destroy him.
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This novel reminded me also of Lord Jim by Conrad.
Under the Volcano stands up to King's recommendation as one of the great novels of the 20th century. The writing is "different" than modern books (written in the 1950's I believe). However, the writing is fantastic, well done, and the writer breaks 'the writing rules' often, but it suits his style.
This is an engaging love/tragedy as I prefer to classify it. This is a difficult read if you only have time to read occasionally. This is something you want to read deeply for a few hours at a time, otherwise it's easy to lose your place.
I highly recommend this book for readers and for serious writers to study the craft.
It's of this place and Fermin's complete capitulation to lost love that that Malcolm Lowry writes about so poetically and so full of vigor, rich in imagery and metaphor that one can spend a perhaps a lifetime dicing and slicing it.
With a plot that is largely revealed in the first chapter one is left with perhaps the greatest prequel ever that focuses on the devastation and total loss that Fermin feels with his wife's departure.
The purpose of continuing despite knowing what happens is the words. Start reading out loud and suddenly the novel takes on a life of his own. If I were teaching an English class I'd have the students read a page each from Fermin's love letter at the end of chapter one. It's a blend of passion, beauty, eloquence and alliteration that is thoroughly original and unique. I will surely read that section over and over. It's more than gorgeous, it's rhapsodic. Who would best stand on a stage and read it as part of bringing this book to life? It's fun to think about.
Chapter after chapter. literally hour by hour, Lowry follows Fermin through a day that's full of crowds, drinking, confusion, misunderstanding, hints of past mistakes and regrets and not a shred of hope for the future. It is unrelenting but so beautifully told and so intense that one may pinch oneself as a reminder that is just a book.
I could go on and on. Certainly it's a book that rewards the patient reader and is not one that lends itself to killing time at an airport but in the right quiet place this is one very special ride. I consider my comments merely a placeholder for surely one must read this book repeatedly. I've read it twice now and many passages repeatedly and it still feels fresh and new.
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At 66, with shelves loaded with fiction and non-fiction books I'm anxious to begin reading, regrettably I have time...Read more