Malcolm Lowry: The Russian Connection

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In Under the Volcano (1947) Malcolm Lowry (1909-57) presents us with a Faustian image of a British ex-Consul tormented by inner turmoil between his divided self and the socio-political environment which has alienated him. A would-be visionary, Geoffrey Firmin undergoes a shamanic journey to exorcise the phantoms of his past by striving towards a higher state of intuitive consciousness. In the odyssey into his cinematic, psychogeographic imagination, he makes profound, psychological connections between current international events plaguing a humanity at war with itself and the spiritual dimensions of his reflective mind. In his synergic quest for reconciliation, he is profoundly affected – as was Lowry himself - by an interdisciplinary heritage moulded by the giants of the Golden Age of Russian literature at the threshold of a revolutionary era. Both Under the Volcano and Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid (1968) refer to Russian writers, film directors, thinkers, and politicians. We are immersed into the spiritual worlds of Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Lev Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, and Sergei Eisenstein. Then we are thrust into the contemporary arena of war and revolution by allusions to Karl Marx, Trotsky, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler. Despite numerous references to Russian writers in Lowry’s collected letters, very little has been published on their influences, apart from a couple of articles touching on Gogol. This paper aims to correct this imbalance by investigating Lowry’s Russian connection in the context of his shamanic visions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIAFOR NACAH2014
Subtitle of host publicationOfficial Conference Proceedings
Place of PublicationNagoya, Aichi, Japan
PublisherIAFOR (The International Academic Forum)
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2014
EventIAFOR NACAH 2014 - Rhode Island
Duration: 18 Sept 201421 Sept 2014

Publication series

NameThe IAFOR North American Conference on the Arts & Humanities 2014
PublisherThe International Academic Forum (IAFOR)
ISSN (Print)2189-1052


ConferenceIAFOR NACAH 2014
CityRhode Island


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