In Ballast to the White Sea: The Springboard for Russian Influences on Malcolm Lowry’s Visionary Intellect

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Abstract

This chapter analyses the significance of Russian literary and political influences referred to in Malcolm Lowry’s major works and correspondence. In Ballast to the White Sea (1936), in particular, acts as a springboard for flashbacks to a hint of Russia in the Dairen of Ultramarine (1933) and for flashforwards to Under the Volcano (1936-47) and Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid (1945-49). In corroborating the appeal of Soviet Russia to many intellectuals in the UK in the 1930s, it reveals its author’s visionary intellect in providing a cogent insight into the fragility of a world teetering on the brink of war and destruction, poised between the forces of capitalism, communism, and fascism.
Weighed down by the ballast of the past and tormented by a “debacle of self,” Lowry’s protagonists are inspired by the ideas of Russian writers and thinkers - such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov, and Peter Ouspensky - and film-directors, for example, Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin. Following their life-instinct and striving to attain an intuitive consciousness through esotericism, they embark on a spiritual pilgrimage in search of truth and of new ideologies which will pledge a social revolution, or a revolution of the soul. Taking refuge in communism, the Sigbjørn of In Ballast to the White Sea is intent on reaching Archangel on the White Sea in Russia which, for him, represents the future, or else Norway in search of William Erikson, a shadow of his past and the fictional Nordahl Grieg.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRemaking the Voyage
Subtitle of host publicationNew Essays on Malcolm Lowry and ‘In Ballast to the White Sea’
EditorsTookey Helen, Bryan Biggs
Place of PublicationLiverpool
PublisherLiverpool University Press
ISBN (Print)9781789621839
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020

Publication series

NameLiverpool English Texts and Studies
PublisherLiverpool University Press

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Keywords

  • Malcolm Lowry
  • In Ballast to the White Sea
  • Gogol
  • Dostoyevsky
  • Chekhov
  • Ouspensky
  • Eisenstein
  • Pudovkin
  • White Sea
  • Russia
  • Russian literature
  • Archangel
  • Grieg
  • Communism
  • National Socialism
  • Nazi
  • 1930s
  • Dead Souls
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Spengler
  • The Decline of the West
  • Hitler
  • Stalin
  • The Great Terror
  • The Great Purge
  • spiritual
  • Kataev
  • CPSU
  • The End of St Petersburg
  • Russian Revolution
  • Russian history
  • Ultramarine
  • Kerensky
  • Melville
  • Moby Dick
  • Soviet Union
  • USSR
  • Isaac D'Israeli
  • The Six Follies of Science
  • Lusitania
  • D. H. Lawrence
  • Nazi Germany
  • Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
  • Hermann Goring
  • Norway
  • Slavic
  • Nordic
  • Baltic
  • St Petersburg
  • Leningrad
  • civilization
  • Vikings
  • Dairen
  • Liverpool
  • British Columbia
  • Russian Civil War
  • Red Army
  • White Army
  • Paul Fejos
  • Gurdjieff
  • Tertium Organum
  • Blavatsky
  • theosophy
  • esoteric
  • Fourth Way
  • Law of Three
  • River Mersey
  • Russian cinematography
  • Russian philosophy
  • culture
  • soul

Cite this

Foxcroft, N. (2020). In Ballast to the White Sea: The Springboard for Russian Influences on Malcolm Lowry’s Visionary Intellect. In T. Helen, & B. Biggs (Eds.), Remaking the Voyage: New Essays on Malcolm Lowry and ‘In Ballast to the White Sea’ (Liverpool English Texts and Studies). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.