Malcolm Lowry's Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)

Malcolm Lowry's Volcano: Myth Symbol Meaning (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)

by David Markson
     
 

In Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano, originally published in 1978, David Markson extended the pioneering work of his 1951 Columbia University master’s thesis—the first substantial study of Under the Volcano. In the years between thesis and book, Markson became Lowry’s close friend (see the invaluable reminiscence at the end of the

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Overview

In Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano, originally published in 1978, David Markson extended the pioneering work of his 1951 Columbia University master’s thesis—the first substantial study of Under the Volcano. In the years between thesis and book, Markson became Lowry’s close friend (see the invaluable reminiscence at the end of the book) and an accomplished novelist in his own right. His critical reputation has only grown in the past two decades.

     Markson’s holds Under the Volcano to be the greatest English language novel after Ulysses—and very like it in ambition and method. While acknowledging that the novel’s primary pleasure is its literal, dramatic story, he argues here that Lowry’s book is a Joycean endeavor, both in its reliance on the mythic and in its allusive texture. Far from being incidental to the story—bits and pieces of learning merely stuffed into the text, as Lowry’s one-time mentor Conrad Aiken thought them—the dense web of reference is an intrinsic part of Lowry’s plan, and demonstrates his mastery.

     Working through the novel chapter by chapter, Markson conducts “an inductive investigation,” of the mythic dimension of Lowry’s great tragedy: “The guilt of the protagonist is that of Adam after the expulsion, his agony that of Christ at Golgotha, his frailty Don Quixote’s,” Markson writes. Lowry’s hero becomes, for example—through analogy, allusion, and metaphor—Faust, Dante, Prometheus, Oedipus, Judas, Hamlet, Prospero and Macbeth, as well as Scrooge and Peter Rabbit.

     Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano is more than just the first and most trenchant analysis of this great novel.  It reveals the mind of a gifted contemporary novelist confronting the work of one of his own early masters. For, if Under the Volcano is a modern masterpiece, it has become increasingly clear that Markson is a master as well. Ten years after the appearance of this, his only non-fiction work, he published Wittgenstein’s Mistress, a novel that David Foster Wallace has called “pretty much the high point of experimental fiction in this country.”

 

Praise for Malcolm Lowry's Volcano

 
“A tour-de-force of literary detection.”    

—Sven Birkerts

                                                          

    

“An important addition to the Lowry canon.” 

                                                            —Chicago Tribune Book World

“A major achievement in scholarly sleuthing, the sine qua non for apprehending Lowry’s great work.”  

                                                            —Fort-Worth Star Telegram

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781435107779
Publisher:
Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
06/25/2009
Series:
Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

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