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Regardless of what his apologists say, Under the Volcano is Malcolm Lowry's only wholly successful book. Fortunately, it is a masterpiece. Reading it is like willingly submitting yourself to a bout of delirium tremens, with all of the disorientation, terror, and pity that that implies. Under the Volcano isn't an easy book to get through; it is extravagantly lurid and deeply allusive, and its protagonist, Consul Geoffrey Firmin, is a hopeless wreck of a human being. Nonetheless, Lowry's seemingly self-indulgent horrors are justified by the immense power of his fiction.
Under the Volcano takes place in Quahnahac, Mexico, on the Day of the Dead in November 1939, in the shadow of European war. Firmin is in the process of violently drinking himself to death, alternately cowering in the comfort of his few, half-estranged friends and lashing out at them. His ex-wife, Yvonne, has returned from her flight to the United States to attempt to bring Firmin back into line. His younger brother, Hugh, wishes to slip over to Spain to join the last feeble resistance against Franco's fascist government. Firmin's long, doomed day is a progress through metaphysical dread and faint hopes of redemption--hopes that are always dashed by politics, mescal, and the failure of love.
This is one of the handful of fictions that gave the 20th century the Infernos it so urgently deserved. Lowry's attention to the Second World War is oblique, almost evasive, but Under the Volcano somehow remains one of the best literary attempts to grapple with modernity's most terrible moment. Indispensable. --Jack Illingworth --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
A discouraging and challenging read. Often hard to follow. Often not clear what was real and what a train of consciousnesw. Little positive to take away. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Martin L. Puterman
An all around great book! Was well put together! A must for anyone who likes great literature! Go get it!Published 17 months ago by mark corkum
This is the kind of book that you either love or hate. There are already tons of reviews on this site about the book itself from both camps, but if you want to learn more about the... Read morePublished on April 1 2009 by M. Deschenes
The book chronicles, with occasional reminiscences of its characters, events of one day in which Geoffrey Firmin, an ex-British consul in Mexico, sidled up to this inevitable... Read morePublished on March 27 2004 by Matthew M. Yau
This is a difficult book to read, and in the first 50 pages or so I didn't think it was too interesting. Read morePublished on March 16 2004
Where to begin? I finished reading Under the Volcanop three months ago and I am still uncertain about my reaction. Read morePublished on Jan. 6 2004 by J. Huntington Worth
Under the Volcano is one of the towering literary achievements of the 20th century. It is what Ulysses would be if Joyce had been capable of expressing his emotions. Read morePublished on Nov. 17 2003