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I think I know a good deal about physical suffering. But this is worst of all, to feel your soul dying. I wonder if it is because tonight that my soul has really died that I feel at the moment something like peace...Sometimes I am possessed by a most powerful feeling, a despairing bewildered jealousy which, when deepened by drink, turns into a desire to destroy myself by my own imagination--not at least to be the prey of--ghosts--Malcolm Lowry's Under The Volcano, first published in 1947, is quite simply one of the great novels of the 20th century. Semi-autobiographical, and taking place during the Mexican festival of the Day of the Dead in 1938, it recounts the last day in the life of the alcoholic ex-consul Geoffrey Firmin. Surrounded by the helpless presences of his ex-wife, his half-brother and acquaintances, he descends into a mescal-soaked purgatory, moving inexorably towards his tragic fate. His self-destructiveness reflects a spiritual struggle born of wilful abnegation and passivity, a depressed, existential acquiescence to the futility of positive action.
The story is simple, its manner of telling decidedly not: Lowry's style is dense, symbolic, allusive, the prose thick with resonance, and the structure complex, with flashbacks, abrupt shifts, and a gradual accumulation of information--it is a book that deserves reading and then rereading, for its pattern and subtleties reveal themselves only slowly. Firmin's story anchors the book's political ambience--the rise of Fascism and the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War lie heavily across its pages, and in turn make of Firmin not a character to be pitied but a representative figure of modernity. In this, Lowry's masterpiece has lost none of its power: it speaks to us of suffering and of loneliness, eliciting our compassion under the century's terrible shadow of mortality. --Burhan Tufail
This book lives up to the hype. Its not an easy read but very rewarding and I agree that it is one of the 100 great novels of the 20 Century.Published 1 month ago by Pillowtail
No doubt a classic but a very difficult read. Basically a story about a rich English bloke who is an alcoholic in central Mexico and his erstwhile wife, an ex-child movie star. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Grant F Ferguson
'Under the Volcano' needs no further recommendation; it is a masterpiece. Beware, however, the kindle version which is poorly transcribed leading to frequent confusion in a... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mike Sheppard
Wanted to obtain a copy of this for my kindle, but just to ensure it was what I wanted I decided to download a sample. Read morePublished 2 months ago by The Man from Mordor
A work of genius. How fortunate you are if you haven't yet read it.Published 5 months ago by Wispin Cork
Have recently been reading Lowry's letter to Cape where he defends 'Under The Volcano' chapter by chapter. Read morePublished 11 months ago by H N Fletcher
I was really looking forward to reading this book as a couple of my friends had highly rated it, however, so far (81% in) i have found it a rambling shambolic mess. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
The set up of the print within the book does not lend itself to an enjoyable read. If we are to appreciate the much heralded style of the writing then a more pleasing presentation... Read morePublished 14 months ago by John Harvey
This is well-written and deservedly a classic but I wasn't bowled over by it and the characters didn't make much of an impression. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Cece de la Vela