The Alfred H. Mendes – Malcolm Lowry Connection

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Abstract

A brief friendship kindled in 1930s New York between the Trinidadian novelist and short-story writer of Portuguese Creole ancestry, Alfred Hubert Mendes (1897-1991), and the late-modernist English author, Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957), forged a personal and literary camaraderie, revealing significant rapport reflected in the intersection of their lives. Certain important, mutually-enabling parallels between their experiences, political affinities, and literary influences can assist us in making better sense of their relationship. Though Mendes was shaped by adventures in Britain and the United States, his writings were rooted in the concerns of everyday existence and in the cultural traditions of his native island of Trinidad. His realist short stories - and novels like Pitch Lake (1934) and Black Fauns (1935) - helped pioneer West Indian literature and attracted praise from Aldous Huxley. Lowry was inspired by visits to the Far East (1927), Germany (1928), Norway (1931), France (1932), Spain (1933–34), the United States (1934–36), and Mexico (1936-38 and 1945-47) where his masterpiece, Under the Volcano (1947), was set. These countries exerted a long-lasting impression on his literary imagination, which encompassed a kaleidoscopic range of influences from East and West, including esotericism. It was his trajectory towards the New World which was conducive to his acquaintance with Mendes in New York in 1936.
Original languageEnglish
JournalUniversity of Toronto Quarterly
Volume91
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Alfred H.Mendes
  • Malcolm Lowry
  • modernism
  • New York
  • colonialism

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