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Under the Volcano

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Book Details

Title:Under the Volcano
Lowry, Malcolm   
Published:   1947
Publisher:Reynal & Hitchcock
Tags:Canadiana, fiction, Mexico, Modern Library's 100 Best Novels, Guardian's 100 Greatest Novels of All Time (2003)

Geoffrey Firmin, a former British consul, has come to Quauhnahuac, Mexico. Here the consul's debilitating malaise is drinking, an activity that has overshadowed his life. Under the Volcano is set during the most fateful day of the consul's life—the Day of the Dead, 1938. His wife, Yvonne, arrives in Quauhnahuac to rescue him and their failing marriage, inspired by a vision of life together away from Mexico and the circumstances that have driven their relationship to the brink of collapse. Yvonne's mission is to save the consul is further complicated by the presence of Hugh, the consul's half-brother, and Jacques, a childhood friend. The events of this one day unfold against a backdrop unforgettable for its evocation of a Mexico at once magical and diabolical.

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Pages:306 Info

Author Bio for Lowry, Malcolm

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Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957)

Clarence Malcolm Lowry, English poet and novelist, is best known for his 1947 novel Under the Volcano, which was voted No. 11 in the Modern Library 100 Best Novels list. Although he was not born in Canada, the years he spent in Dollarton, British Columbia, (1940-54) were the happiest and most productive years of his chaotic life. Much of his later fiction is set in British Columbia. All of Lowry’s work is to a degree autobiographical. Under the Volcano, was inspired by his months of alcoholic depression in Mexico (1936-38). From 1941 to 1944 he worked with his wife Margerie in their Dollarton shack tirelessly revising the manuscript, and in 1946 it was accepted for publication. In the character of the consul, a drunken diplomat without official duties, and in the infernal Mexican setting, Lowry found his perfect symbols.

Much of Lowry’s fiction (Ultramarine, 1933; Lunar Caustic, 1968; Hear Us O Lord from Heaven thy Dwelling Place, 1961; and October Ferry to Gabriola (1970) published posthumously) is memorable, but it is Under the Volcano that has established Lowry as one of this century’s great writers. He won the Governor General’s Award for English-language fiction in 1961 for his posthumous collection Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place.

Sources: The Canadian Encyclopedia; Wikipedia

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