Under the Volcano
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Under the Volcano

3.79 (18,144 ratings by Goodreads)
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One of the twentieth century's great undisputed masterpieces, Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano includes an introduction by Michael Schmidt in Penguin Modern Classics.It is the fiesta 'Day of the Dead' in the small Mexican town of Quauhnahuac. In the shadow of the volcano, ragged children beg coins to buy skulls made of chocolate, ugly pariah dogs roam the streets and Geoffrey Firmin - ex-consul, ex-husband, an alcoholic and a ruined man - is living out the last day of his life. Drowning himself in mescal while his former wife and half-brother look on, powerless to help him, the consul has become an enduring tragic figure. As the day wears on, it becomes apparent that Geoffrey must die. It is his only escape from a world he cannot understand. His story, the image of one man's agonised journey towards Calvary, became a prophetic book for a whole generation.Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957) was born and died in England. Between school and studying English at St Catherine's College, Cambridge he spent five months at sea as a deckhand, an experience which gave him the material for his first novel, Ultramarine (1933). After marrying in Paris, he moved to New York where he completed In Ballast to the White (1936). Under The Volcano was begun in Hollywood, coloured by a short stay in the Mexico that it describes, and eventually finished in Dollarton, British Columbia. If you enjoyed Under the Volcano, you might like F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and the Damned, also available in Penguin Classics.'A Faustian masterpiece'Anthony Burgess
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Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 127 x 195.58 x 20.32mm | 272.15g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0141182253
  • 9780141182254
  • 18,031

Back cover copy

Geoffrey Firmin, a former British consul, has come to Quauhnahuac, Mexico. Here the consul's debilitating malaise is drinking, an activity that has overshadowed his life. Under the Volcano is set during the most fateful day of the consul's life -- the Day of the Dead, 1938. His wife, Yvonne, arrives in Quauhnahuac to rescue him and their failing marriage, inspired by a vision of a life together away from Mexico and the circumstances that have driven their relationship to the brink of collapse. Yvonne's mission to save the consul is further complicated by the presence of Hugh, the consul's half-brother, and Jacques, a childhood friend. The events of this one day unfold against a backdrop unforgettable for its evocation of a Mexico at once magical and diabolical.Under the Volcano remains one of the most powerful and lyrical statements on the human condition and one man's constant struggle against the elemental forces that threaten to destroy him.
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Review quote

"One of the towering novels of this century."--"New York Times"[Lowry's] masterpiece...has a claim to being regarded as one of the ten most consequential works of fiction produced in this century...It reflects the special genius of Lowry, a writer with a poet's command of the language and a novelist's capacity to translate autobiographical details into a universal statement."--"Los Angeles Times"The book obviously belongs with the most original and creative novels of our time."--Alfred Kazin
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About Malcolm Lowry

Malcolm Lowry (1909 - 1957) was raised in England and died there but lived much of his troubled life semi-nomadically - in New York, Mexico and British Columbia.
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Rating details

18,144 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 34% (6,167)
4 30% (5,470)
3 22% (3,971)
2 10% (1,730)
1 4% (806)
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