‘Malcolm Lowry: The Russian Dimension’

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Despite the abundance of intertextual credits to Russian writers, film directors, and intellectuals in the publications of Malcolm Lowry (1909-57), relatively little has appeared regarding their impact on his creative mind. This paper aims to rectify this shortfall by probing Lowry’s Russian dimension in the context of his cinematic and psychogeographic imagination, as revealed in, for example, Under the Volcano (1947), Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid (1968), and his correspondence. The extent of his fascination (shared with Virginia Woolf) for the inner, spiritual worlds portrayed by Russian writers is surveyed in the light of his frequent mention of a range of prominent, ‘Golden Age’ authors, including Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Lev Tolstoy, and Anton Chekhov. Tormented by the interior turmoil of a divided self and by the alienating effects of an external, socio-economic, and political environment on the brink of the Second World War, his heroes are prone to mirror his strife to attain a higher level of intuitive consciousness. In view of Lowry’s tortuous, shamanic quest to exorcise the phantoms of the past, contemporary, international affairs afflicting humanity are perceived through the kaleidoscope of subconscious intelligence. Observing cinematic techniques reminiscent of Sergei Eisenstein’s montage, the reader is thrust into an era of revolutions and civil wars, contemplating allusions to Marx, Trotsky, Lenin, Stalin, and even Hitler. Stimulated by ideas emanating from Russian writers and thinkers – including Peter D. Ouspensky and Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society (via W. B. Yeats and Annie Besant), Lowry is insightful of the inter-dependence of cultures and civilizations. Astute at combining East-West philosophies, he rejuvenates his subconscious, imaginative intuition in his spiritual pursuit of the truth, harmony, and co-existence of Eridanus in a belligerent world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnder the Volcano, 70 Years On: A Malcolm Lowry Conference: Proceedings
Place of PublicationLiverpool
PublisherLiverpool John Moores University and Bluecoat
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2017
EventUnder the Volcano, 70 Years On: A Malcolm Lowry Conference: Proceedings - Liverpool John Moores University and Bluecoat, Liverpool, 28th-29th July, 2017
Duration: 28 Jul 2017 → …


ConferenceUnder the Volcano, 70 Years On: A Malcolm Lowry Conference: Proceedings
Period28/07/17 → …


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