Giant of literature,Â reconsidered at the Guardian. Under the Volcano is mind-blowing. Or was, when I read it about 10 years ago. Or maybe that wast the pot and late nights at the James Joyce. Not sure. I can’t really think straight anymore.
Malcolm Lowry thought of himself as a poet first. In a famous letter defending his novel to Jonathan Cape against a negative reader’s report, he pointed out his structuring of the Volcano “like a churrigueresque Mexican cathedral”:
“Poems often have to be read several times before their full meaning will reveal itself, explode in the mind, and it is precisely this poetical conception of the whole that I suggest has been, if understandably, missed.” Schopenhauer remarked: “Any book that is at all important ought to be at once read through twice; … on a second reading the connection of the different portions of the book will be better understood, and the beginning comprehended only when the end is known; and partly because we are not in the same temper and disposition on both readings.” Nothing could be said more truly of Under the Volcano than this.