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Lunar Caustic (Penguin Mini Modern Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 15 Feb 2011

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (15 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141196114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141196114
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 0.7 x 16.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 463,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Malcolm Lowry was born in 1909 in New Brighton. He was educated at the Leys School, Cambridge, and St Catharine's College. Between school and university he went to sea, working as a deckhand and trimmer for about six months. His first novel, Ultramarine, was published in 1933. He went to Paris and married his first wife in 1934, and wrote several short stories in Paris and Chartres before going to New York. He then left for Mexico. His first marriage broke up in 1938, and by 1940 he had remarried and settled in British Columbia.

During 1941-4, when he was living at Dollarton, he worked on the final version of Under the Volcano. In 1954 he finally returned to England. During half his writing life he lived in a squatter's shack, built largely by himself, near Vancouver. His Selected Letters, edited by H. Breit and Margerie Lowry, appeared in 1967 and Lunar Caustic, part of a large, uncompleted work, appeared in 1963. He died in England in 1957.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. Ronayne on 16 Aug. 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Lowry entered New York's Bellevue Hospital in May 1936. Whether he went as a voluntary patient or was tasked to write about conditions at the institution is unclear. He was treated at the psychiatric unit for two weeks until the hospital authorities found out that he was British and not eligible for free treatment. He later wrote 'Lunar Caustic' which was based on his experience at Bellevue.

Although largely autobiographical, Lowry as usual uses a protagonist with a wonderful name; Bill Plantagenet is a ship's musician on a very bad bender in New York. The hospital looms up, inescapable on his bar-crawl. He knows he has to go there but tries to put off the fateful hour.

His experiences are an insight into the appalling effects of alcohol abuse together with the abusive and degrading treatment given to patients and inmates.

This edition is from the Penguin Modern Classic series, a cheap and small paperback made to go in a pocket or handbag-very practical.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Interesting But Not His Best 6 April 2009
By J. Robinson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I read Under the Volcano, and have a read a number of his other works.
Clearly, Under The Volcano is his best novel but he has a number of other interesting works.

Lowry fought alcoholism much of his adult life and this is reflected in his writings including Ultramarine, Under the Volcano, and in the present work. The present novel was started in 1934, after the publication of Ultramarine. It is shorter than Ultramarine, just 76 pages. He worked on it for over two decades and it was still a work in progress when Lowry died 24 years later. It was first published until 1963 in the Paris Review. If you like Lowry, I recommend the collection of short stories Hear Us O Lord From Heaven They Dwelling Place in addition to Under the Volcano. There is a good sea story in that collection "Through the Panama" which is the source of the title of the collection.

The present story comes from Lowry's own life. Here the protagonist is finishing a sea voyage, landing in the summer heat of New York. The character checks into a New York mental hospital. It is about alcoholism and the time spent by the character, Bill Plantagenet, in the mental hospital - similar to Lowry's experience at Bellevue mental hospital in New York.

The novel lacks symmetry and the coherent structure of a conventional novel - similar to the rambling style of Ultramarine.

This is an interesting and chaotic book about the characters in the hospital.

Probably, it is not as good as some of his other works and Under the Volcano is his best.
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