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The impact of time and memory on Malcolm Lowry's fiction Ramsey, Robin Harold 1970

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THE IMPACT OF TIME AND MEMORY ON MALCOLM LOWRY'S FICTION by ROBIN HAROLD RAMSEY B.A., U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1967  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n the Department of English We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1970  In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s  in p a r t i a l  f u l f i l m e n t o f the requirements f o r  an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I agree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e  f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y .  I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s  thesis  f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s .  It  i s u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n  o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my written permission.  Department o f  English  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada  Date  {feptanbqr ?1, 1970  ABSTRACT  The a e s t h e t i c basis underlying Lowry's work centers around two key i d e a s , time and memory.  C r u c i a l to a l l of his w r i t i n g i s the need  to decipher and to j u s t i f y the past, both as i t i s retained i n memory and as i t recurs i n experience.  As complex as such a problem i s , i t be-  comes more so when n e i t h e r memory nor experience conforms to the l i m i t s or patterns that a conventional view of r e a l i t y suggests, and accordi n g l y , Lowry required a world-view that could accommodate such appare n t l y i r r e g u l a r phenomena as premonition, coincidence, recurrence and telepathy.  This study w i l l examine some of the shapes which r e a l i t y  assumed i n Lowry's l i f e , and the means he employed t o represent and to understand  i t through his a r t .  I t w i l l a l s o suggest the usefulness of  comparing Lowry's approach to existence with the theories of Ortega and J . W. Dunne. The f i r s t chapter considers the nature of time and memory i n general and looks a t some of the s p e c i f i c treatments accorded these subjects in l i t e r a t u r e .  In a d d i t i o n , i t examines Lowry's s p e c i a l metaphysical  needs and his search through a v a r i e t y of doctrines and p h i l o s o p h i e s , primary among which are Western mysticism and o c c u l t i s m and various Eastern b e l i e f s , f o r some e l u c i d a t i o n of his problems.  Throughout, i t  attempts to keep Lowry's e f f o r t s i n a perspective of contemporary f i c t i o n , since the problems of a u n i v e r s a l outlook which he faced and the  iv  s o l u t i o n s he posed, while i n d i v i d u a l , are n e i t h e r as unique nor as esot e r i c as they might at f i r s t  appear.  Chapter II focuses on some of the s o l u t i o n s Lowry a r r i v e d a t .  It  assumes that the disparate body of ideas at work i n Lowry's a e s t h e t i c can be subsumed, f o r convenience, w i t h i n two metaphysical  systems--  Ortega's philosophy of man and h i s t o r y and Dunne's s e r i a l universe. These theories are considered i n some d e t a i l  i n an attempt to show that  Lowry's conception of the nature and purpose of l i t e r a r y a c t i v i t y p a r a l l e l s Ortega's hypothesis, while his methodology, the execution of h i s o b j e c t i v e s , makes use of s e r i a l i s m . Chapters I I I and IV analyze Under the Volcano and Dark as the Grave, r e s p e c t i v e l y , i n l i g h t of the above considerations and t r y to show how these ideas are operative i n Lowry's work both on the a e s t h e t i c l e v e l , i n terms of h i s approach to l i t e r a t u r e , and a l s o on the thematic and s t r u c t u r a l l e v e l s w i t h i n the f i c t i v e worlds of the novels. The f i n a l chapter i s a b r i e f summary, s y n t h e s i z i n g Lowry's various conceptions of time, memory, and r e a l i t y around a general a e s t h e t i c theory.  I t w i l l be seen that Lowry makes free use of a number of d i f -  f e r e n t but compatible systems of thought i n h i s w r i t i n g .  Thus the  chapter w i l l a l s o consider some of the r e s u l t a n t c r i t i c a l problems which beset his work and the corresponding need, i n any e v a l u a t i o n of his a r t , f o r c r i t i c a l breadth and  flexibility.  TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter I.  Page  TIME AND MEMORY  1  II.  ORTEGA AND DUNNE  19  III.  UNDER THE VOLCANO  34  DARK AS THE GRAVE WHEREIN MY FRIEND IS LAID  58  IV.  V.  CONCLUSION  . . . . . . . .  A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY  . . . .  .77  86  THE IMPACT OF TIME AND MEMORY ON MALCOLM LOWRY'S FICTION  CHAPTER I TIME AND MEMORY Central to a l l of Lowry's work i s the need to recover and to i n t e r pret the past i n order to e s t a b l i s h a d e f i n i t i o n of s e l f based not on e r r o r or delusion but on sound understanding and self-knowledge.  This,  of course, demands that Lowry be thoroughly conversant with his personal h i s t o r y , and i t i s p r i m a r i l y through the agency of memory t h a t t h i s h i s tory i s rendered a c c e s s i b l e to a n a l y s i s .  Lowry r e a l i z e d that at any  given moment i n an i n d i v i d u a l ' s existence he i s a product of a l l that has gone before, not merely his own experience, but h i s c o l l e c t i v e s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l past as w e l l .  He found that the reclamation of t h i s exper-  ience through l i t e r a r y c r e a t i o n furnished a means of capturing a moment of r e a l i t y , whether i t be past or present, and imposing upon i t order, permanence, and i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y .  I f , however, as he a l s o learned,  r e a l i t y i t s e l f , i n a d d i t i o n to being e l u s i v e and formless, threatened real d e s t r u c t i o n , the transformation of i t i n t o a r t was to deprive i t of i t s harmful p o t e n t i a l .  Self-knowledge i s a p r e r e q u i s i t e to both s e l f -  development and f u l l p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the world, but Lowry knew that one's conception of s e l f must encompass the t o t a l man  including his  previous i d e n t i t i e s ; to i g n o r e , to evade, or even to deny elements one's experiences i s to ensure entrapment by them.  of  The process of re-  covering s e l f and r e a l i t y i s a psychological one that Jung has defined as i n d i v i d u a t i o n , a search f o r wholeness, f o r an i n t e g r a t i o n of the pers o n a l i t y that makes of an i n d i v i d u a l a unique, i n d i v i s i b l e u n i t ,  2 r e l a t i v e l y f r e e of the supportive s t r u c t u r e s of his s o c i a l environmentJ Such a human being creates his own world and s t r u c t u r e s i t with his own values rooted i n his sense of s e l f .  This i s the b a s i c motivation behind  Lowry's a e s t h e t i c , determining both h i s conception of the r o l e of l i t e r ary a r t i n general and his execution, i n thematic and s t r u c t u r a l of s p e c i f i c works.  terms,  His own experiences f u r n i s h the substance of h i s  f i c t i o n , but w i t h i n the f i c t i v e worlds of the novels the characters are themselves preoccupied with time and confronted with the consequences of t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e pasts. A r t has t r a d i t i o n a l l y served i n the r o l e i n which Lowry casts i t . According to Hans Meyerhoff, the quest f o r d i s c l o s i n g c o n t i n u i t y , i d e n t i t y and unity i n experience has been a dominant theme of l i t e r a t u r e and p h i l osophy from a t l e a s t as f a r back as St. Augustine's Confessions, and the 2 key to the quest has been memory.  This search, of course, involves  w r i t e r s i n temporal considerations that are more than simply an awareness of the passing of time and of the persistence of thoughts and f e e l i n g s ; i t demands some conception of the nature of r e a l i t y i t s e l f , a s p e c i f i c o r i e n t a t i o n , i n f a c t , towards the universe.  A r t i s t s tend to be e c l e c t i c ,  however, and r a r e l y do they f o l l o w any one philosophy c o n s i s t e n t l y . Lowry i s no exception, and he d i s p l a y s a rather d i s c u r s i v e sharing elements of numerous b e l i e f s .  metaphysic  Nevertheless, i t proves a valuable  exercise to piece together some of the disparate threads of thought as they are i n e v i t a b l y the strands out of which the novels are made.  Indeed,  as Margaret Church suggests i n a study of time and r e a l i t y i n f i c t i o n , such a task i s an e s s e n t i a l element of c r i t i c i s m since "the understanding  3  of the form, content, thought and motif of f i c t i o n depends on the under3  standing of an author's a t t i t u d e toward time and space." Lowry i s s i t u a t e d i n an i n t e l l e c t u a l and l i t e r a r y climate i n which ideas concerning time are heavily influenced by Bergson and Marcel Proust.  Countering the p r o p o s i t i o n put forward by Kant  that defines  time as a homogeneous e n t i t y , Bergson suggests instead two species of time, one extensive and measurable, l i k e Kant's, the other i n t e n s i v e and unmeasurable; the l a t t e r he c a l l e d duration.  In Time and F r e e w i l l ,  Bergson claims that Kant's mistake i s to confuse symbol and r e a l i t y .  He  believes that when we t r y s y m b o l i c a l l y to represent duration we i n e v i t a b l y replace i t by space; t h i s i s the sense of time we have i n which we make 4  d i s t i n c t i o n s and count, the time that a clock measures.  In f a c t , suc-  cession i s not a property of pure duration which i s the form time assumes when the ordering ego or consciousness r e f r a i n s from separating i t s present from i t s former s t a t e s .  Consequently, past and present com-  p r i s e an organic whole i n which one's e n t i r e past i s constantly i n e x i s tence, even though one may remain unaware of i t .  The aggregate, however,  i s i n an unceasing s t a t e of change, of growth through "the continuous progress of the past which gnaws i n t o the future and which swells as i t advances.  And as the past grows without ceasing so a l s o there i s no 5 l i m i t to i t s preservation." Thus, the character of an i n d i v i d u a l at a  s p e c i f i c stage i n h i s l i f e i s "the condensation of the h i s t o r y " that he has l i v e d from h i s b i r t h to that p o i n t . Bergson's idea of duration saturates twentieth-century l i t e r a t u r e , though frequently i n modified form.  His view freed man from the  4 a r t i f i c i a l d i s t i n c t i o n s that had been appropriated to time, and, i n so doing, bestowed a greater s t a t u r e on man's past.  Much of Lowry's w r i t i n g  e x h i b i t s t h i s sense of d u r a t i o n , but his outlook d i f f e r s markedly  from  Bergson's i n a t l e a s t one respect; Bergson considered time to be i r r e v e r sible.  While the past was a c c e s s i b l e to mental r e c a l l , i t was always  past and never repeatable i n experience.  Since an i n d i v i d u a l i s always  changing, he can never be the same person he was when an i n c i d e n t f i r s t took place.  I t i s the i n t e r v e n i n g episodes, t h e r e f o r e , which  the recurrence of an a c t i o n .  prevent  By a s i m i l a r process of thought, Bergson  denied the f o r e s e e a b i l i t y of the future which would require e i t h e r a knowledge of a l l antecedent a c t i o n s , and he b e l i e v e d t h i s t o be impossible, or the experience of a l l preceding events which would d i s p e l the element of f u t u r i t y .  Though the p l a u s i b i l i t y of these arguments i s s t r o n g , they  would not go very f a r i n assuaging Lowry's mind since he seemed constantl y beset by both recurrence and premonition. Proust, l i k e Bergson, believed that real time was inner and q u a l i t a t i v e , but he focused his a t t e n t i o n on the i n t e n s i t y of the past and on how i t could be r e c a l l e d .  He f e l t that because of f o r g e t f u l n e s s , because  of the p r a c t i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n of l i f e toward the f u t u r e , there e x i s t e d no l i n k between past and present u n t i l a chance occurrence summoned up a previous experience by reanimating the sensations which accompanied i t ; during such a s i t u a t i o n , one i s completely outside of time.  In Matter  and Memory, Bergson had d i f f e r e n t i a t e d between two forms o f memory, one which imagines, c h a r a c t e r i z e d by spontaneity and c a p r i c i o u s n e s s , and one which repeats, subject to the w i l l of the a c t i v e i n t e l l e c t .  Proust  5 recognized the same d i s t i n c t i o n s , g i v i n g prominence to the spontaneous, involuntary memory that chance or circumstance occasioned.  He regarded  i n t e l l e c t u a l memory, prompted by the w i l l , as capable of revealing only that past which was, i n e f f e c t , dead: "the pictures which that kind of memory shows us of the past preserve nothing of the past i t s e l f . "  7  The  other, however, by the chain of a s s o c i a t i o n i t sparked enabled one to experience simultaneously an i n c i d e n t i n the past and the present. The d i f f e r e n c e between Proust and Lowry i s that Proust remembered previous experiences and r e l i v e d them, but i n his mind; there remains a sense of escapism i n his approach.  Lowry, on the other hand, a c t u a l l y  found himself repeating e a r l i e r events i n his l i f e , going through the same motions, facing the same r i d d l e s .  Both, however, recognized the  r o l e of an agent, a c a t a l y s t , i n r e v i v i n g physical or psychological occasions, and Sigbj0rn Wilderness' stumbling upon the Calle- Humbolt i n Dark as the Grave, to mention but one example, has much about i t of the "madeleine" episode i n the "Overture" s e c t i o n of Swann's Way.  The r e -  g  s u i t i n g a s s o c i a t i o n i s m , based, as Bergson noted,  on the s i m i l a r i t y and  c o n t i g u i t y of separate happenings, impelled each author on his r e s p e c t i v e survey of the past.  The narrator of Proust's novel discovers that the  taste of the " p e t i t e s madeleines" r e c a l l e d i n completeness  and i n t e n s i t y  the Sunday morning a c t i v i t i e s a t Combray during h i s childhood.  This l e d  to the conception of the whole great work which was to be a recapturing 9 of a succession of l o s t s e l v e s .  What he required was a temporal  system  that could accommodate such an adventure, a cosmic view i n which the end was simultaneous with the beginning, and i n which each moment, containing  6 within i t s e l f both its past and future, could be viewed in terms of the whole.  Memory, sleep, and dreams gave him freedom to roam beyond the  logical and psychological conventions of reality and to apply to earlier events a clearer and more precise vision.  The similarity between the  two authors, in terms of conception, is striking.  Each focused on himself,  fragmenting his single personality into a variety of characters; each erected constructs of the real and the imaginary to inhabit his fictive worlds.  And for each i t was a quest for identity.  Indeed, Lowry's  projected work, The Voyage that Never Ends, was Proustian in breadth, comprising five to seven novels focusing on this theme. Proust was well aware of the obstacles that lay in his path.  He  realized, for instance, the difficulty of separating the reality of another from what i s , in fact, simply a projection of one's own conception of him.  He perceived kinds and degrees of reality, since some  remembered events have their origin in a valid personal experience while others are simply constructs of the imagination.  He knew, too, that the  past not only colours and shapes the present but vice versa, that one's immediate biases interfere with and distort memory.  Meyerhoff states  the general problems of memory quite clearly by asking how different patterns of memory are related to each other at the same time, how one accounts for the sense of continuity that an individual feels between these different contents at different times, and how one explains the relationship of an individual to his total p a s t J  0  His answer to these  questions both defines the basic role of memory in literature and also pays tribute to Proust's contribution:  7 [Remembrance of Things Past] reveals how the r e c o n s t r u c t i o n of the s e l f corresponds to the recapture o f time i n experience; . . . t h i s quest f o r time and s e l f assigns to memory a unique f u n c t i o n . Memory becomes a symbol f o r the a c t i v e , c r e a t i v e , r e g u l a t i v e functions of the s e l f . And t h i s c r e a t i v e aspect of memory ( i n a r t ) d i s closes a u n i f i e d , coherent s t r u c t u r e of the s e l f , which cannot be otherwise recovered i n e x p e r i e n c e J l Lowry, t o o , faced these d i f f i c u l t i e s .  He accepted the f a c t that  given the normal r o l e assigned to memory--to r e c a l l the past without d i s t o r t i n g i t - - t h e n the value of remembered experience was i n the f i x e d and secure standard i t furnished f o r coping with present r e a l i t y . problem l a y i n the i n s u f f i c i e n c y of the premise. greater demands on a time-scheme.  But the  Lowry's l i f e made  He found that memory, i n c l u d i n g the  p e c u l i a r s t a t e of dreams which a c t i v a t e stored memory contents, involves a conscious awareness that extends beyond conventional l i m i t a t i o n s , that the f u t u r e was indeed as much a part of memory as the past.  Accordingly,  i t became necessary to d i f f e r e n t i a t e between remembered events, present a c t i o n s , and a n t i c i p a t e d experiences, recognizing that a l l e q u a l l y a f f e c t one's l i f e , modify choices and a c t i o n s , and l i m i t a l t e r n a t i v e s , and that an a e s t h e t i c was required that took account of these d i s t i n c t i o n s . Throughout h i s poetry, f i c t i o n and l e t t e r s , Lowry's emphasis i s on a personal past, much as i s Proust's, and the theories of time and memory with which he was preoccupied were p r i m a r i l y those which o f f e r e d e l u c i d a t i o n of the complexities of h i s own l i f e : Like a rotten o l d ladder cast a d r i f t from a dismantled sawmill . . . seems my conscience-hauled out to dry i n the sun, leaning against nothing,  8 leading nowhere-but to be put to use perhaps, s a l v a g e a b l e — t o be graved, up and down which each night my mind meaninglessly c l imbs The image suggests an ordeal resembling that of Sisyphus i n i t s p a i n , 13 i t s f u t i l i t y , i t s unrelenting pressure to continue.  Indeed, t h i s need  haunts Lowry's work and dominates such poems as "The Flowering Past," "Sunrise," "Whirlpool," and "The Ship i s Turning Homeward" among others. Forming, as w e l l , the nucleus of many of his short s t o r i e s , i t appears i n various g u i s e s , as the search f o r i d e n t i t y i n "The Bravest Boat," as the re-emergence of the past i n "Elephant and Colosseum," as the r e l a t i o n ship of man to his s o c i a l past i n "The Present Estate of Pompeii," and, f i n a l l y , as the d e s t r u c t i v e past which i s overcome and put to use i n "The Forest Path to the Spring."  A l l of these draw on a common body of  experiences and confusions--Lowry's; a l l t r y to order and understand them as p r e r e q u i s i t e s f o r Lowry's personal s a l v a t i o n . Although the metaphysical enigmas confronting Lowry were i n t i m a t e l y and immediately p r e s s i n g , nevertheless Under the Volcano e x t e n s i v e l y and Dark as the Grave to a more l i m i t e d e x t e n t , through such devices as the Faust and P a r s i f a l m o t i f s , expand his thoughts beyond personal cons i d e r a t i o n s to i n c l u d e a l l time.  He agreed with Jung that the a r t i s t i s  i n touch with the immemorial forces common to a l l c u l t u r e s , a l 1 ages, and was a b l e , through his use of symbolism and mythology, to bridge the abyss of time which separated them.  Lowry's f a m i l i a r i t y with Oriental  philosophy and the Cabbala suggested common archetypal patterns i n human  9  existence to which h i s symbolism provided access.  He, l i k e Jung, be-  l i e v e d t h a t " i t i s only p o s s i b l e to l i v e the f u l l e s t l i f e when we are i n harmony with these symbols; wisdom i s a return to them.  I t i s neither a  question of b e l i e f nor of knowledge, but of the agreement of our t h i n k 14 ing with the primordial images of the unconscious."  In t h i s  sense,  the value of mythological a l l u s i o n s i s twofold: they place a present, secular s e t t i n g w i t h i n a timeless p e r s p e c t i v e , and they convey a sense of the c o n t i n u i t y and community of a l l mankind. These and s i m i l a r ideas exerted a powerful formative i n f l u e n c e on the shape of l i t e r a r y c r e a t i o n i n general during t h i s century, although the method that any a r t i s t r e s o r t s to i s , u l t i m a t e l y , the one that meets his unique needs and f o s t e r s h i s p a r t i c u l a r o b j e c t i v e s . Faulkner, f o r instance, concentrated on the f o r c e of an i n d i v i d u a l ' s s o c i a l past, on the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of escaping i t , on the i n e v i t a b i l i t y , i n f a c t , of r e peating i t since "there i s no such thing r e a l l y as was because the past. 15 is."  In a d d i t i o n , p a r a l l e l s from Shakespeare and B i b l i c a l analogies  lend to h i s novels a wide scope.  In the same manner, Hegelian p h i l o s -  ophy, Nietschze's eternal recurrence of the same, mysticism, and o c c u l t ism inform the works of Kafka and Thomas Mann, both of whom employ c i r c u l a r concepts of time and r e a l i t y i n t h e i r f i c t i o n .  While Lowry knew  of these a r t i s t s and t h e i r approaches to the nature of e x i s t e n c e , perhaps the most f r u i t f u l comparison f o r s e t t i n g his views i n a perspective of contemporary w r i t i n g i s with Joyce. In The P o r t r a i t of the A r t i s t as a_ Young Man, a predominantly personal sense of i d e n t i t y i s gradually superseded  i n Daedalus' mind by  10 a commitment to h i s r a c i a l past.  In U l y s s e s , a r t i f i c i a l time i s j u x t a -  posed a g a i n s t Bergsonian duration and a Jungian persistence of the legendary past, with Homeric p a r a l l e l s , I r i s h nationalism and f o l k l o r e , and l i n g u i s t i c s t y l e s f u r n i s h i n g the dominant agents of c o n t i n u i t y . Here, clocks and watches abound, though not as e x t e n s i v e l y as i n Under the  Volcano.  The c r i t i c a l time f o r Bloom i s four o'clock when Molly w i l l  rendezvous with Blazes Boylan.  But Bloom i s a l s o capable of a l a r g e r  v i s i o n , of seeing l i f e i n terms of a flowing stream, a never-ending c y c l e of b i r t h , growth, death, decay, r e b i r t h .  Finnegan's Wake i s structured  along the l i n e s of Giovanni B a t t i s t a Vico's c y c l i c a l theory of h i s t o r y which comprises a Divine Age, an Heroic Age, a Human Age, and a Recorso. Indeed, Vico's cycles occupy a p o s i t i o n i n Joyce's a e s t h e t i c s i m i l a r to the  place held by Dunne's s e r i a l ism i n Lowry's scheme.  These, however,  do not exhaust Joyce's techniques; h i s use of time shows the same d i v e r s i t y of sources and approaches as does Lowry's, and Giordano Bruno's d i a l e c t i c a l concept of nature, E i n s t e i n ' s r e l a t i v i s m , Dunne's s e r i a l view, as well as A s i a t i c conceptions of c y c l i c a l time a l l contribute to his  t o t a l outlook. Lowry's search f o r a comprehensible order i n the world has l i t t l e  of the purely t h e o r e t i c a l about i t .  Time i s , i n f a c t , a symbol that man  employs i n order to approach an aspect of u l t i m a t e r e a l i t y .  For most  men, perhaps, the symbol i s s u f f i c i e n t , and they r e s t with the delusion that they can not only understand, but can manipulate and control r e a l i t y , since t h e i r n e c e s s i t i e s , the demands they make on r e a l i t y , do not exceed the  l i m i t s of the narrow and closed system i n which they operate.  In  11 c o n t r a s t , as h i s l e t t e r s p a r t i c u l a r l y r e v e a l , Lowry's needs were unique and exacting; his l i f e was  plagued with i r r e g u l a r , o c c a s i o n a l l y extremely  b i z a r r e occurrences, which made him sometimes regard himself as a charac1c ter  i n a Kafka novel.  He often seemed to be somehow e x i s t i n g i n d i f -  f e r e n t e x p e r i e n t i a l realms at the same moment where events such as those narrated i n the published fragment of October Ferry to G a b r i o l a , Element Follows You Around, S i r , " were prevalent.  "The  His d e s i r e f o r under-  standing led him to Kant, but the C r i t i q u e of Pure Reason would seem to o f f e r scant solace or a s s i s t a n c e . of consciousness,  In Kant's philosophy, although  a form  time i s s t i l l a l i n e a r concept " i n which a l l d i f f e r e n t  times must be l o c a t e d , not as c o e x i s t e n t but as i n succession to one another"^ and which f o l l o w each other on the p r i n c i p l e of cause and 7  effect.  A d o c t r i n e of t h i s order has l i t t l e room f o r premonition, even  less f o r recurrence. f i r m l y convinced  Lowry, however, as Downie K i r k t e s t i f i e s ,  was  of the p o s s i b i l i t y of such things as telepathy and 18  thought transference.  He possessed Jung's Psyche and Symbol and must  have known h i s essay on s y n c h r o n i c i t y which t r e a t s of "meaningful c o i n cidences" that are not based on any p r i n c i p l e of c a u s a l i t y and that are 19 contained  i n an i r r e p r e s e n t a b l e space-time continuum.  i t seems to be J . W. Dunne to whom Lowry turned.  Nevertheless,  In a l e t t e r to Conrad  Aiken i n 1945, a f t e r having recounted some rather strange s i t u a t i o n s , Lowry goes on to add that "altogether about f i f t y other odd  senseless  sad t e r r i f y i n g and c u r i o u s l y r e l a t e d things . . . make me sometimes think (taking i t a l l i n a l l ) that maybe I am the chap chosen by God or 20 the Devil to e l u c i d a t e the Law of S e r i e s . "  12 Before a d e t a i l e d c o n s i d e r a t i o n of Dunne however, there i s another e s s e n t i a l i n g r e d i e n t of Lowry's metaphysic  to be n o t e d — t h i s i s eternal  recurrence, the c y c l i c a l basis of existence. While eternal recurrence i s not the same as s e r i a l i s m , nor i s i t even p o s s i b l e perhaps to subsume the containment of one i n the other, s t i l l , i n the uses made of each by Lowry, the systems are c e r t a i n l y compatible.  The r e p e t i t i o n of exper-  ience, the extensive use of mythology, plus Lowry's knowledge of Eastern philosophy, neo-Platonism, o c c u l t i s m , alchemy, and the Cabbala, a l l help to promote a c y c l i c a l view of time and r e a l i t y .  The focus here w i l l  be  on the c o n t r i b u t i o n s of the East, as some of the neo-PIatonic symbolism 21 i n Lowry's work has r e c e n t l y been examined, 22  and the C a b b a l i s t i c frame-  work has been amply f i l l e d out by Epstein.  Both these streams of  thought, i n f a c t , partake h e a v i l y of Eastern b e l i e f s .  I t should be  r e a l i z e d that the complexity of Lowry's symbolism precludes any c l a i m that he made a conscious and determined e f f o r t to draw images from Indian and Oriental d o c t r i n e s . Nevertheless, his imagery,  symbolism,  even many of h i s techniques are informed by t h e i r ideas. 23 The stages.of mystical experience, as Epstein describes i t ,  as  a journey through seven palaces, i s s t r i k i n g l y s i m i l a r to the myth of Buddha's b i r t h .  During the o r d e a l , Buddha a t t a i n s the summit of the  world i n seven steps, t r a v e r s i n g the seven cosmic s t o r i e s to the seven planetary heavens.  In so doing, he transcends time by becoming contem-  poraneous with the beginning of the world, as the summit i s where c r e a t i o n commences.  Here, time i s both r e v e r s i b l e and can be a n t i c i p a t e d ; 24 knowing past and f u t u r e , he can move i n e i t h e r time d i r e c t i o n . A  13 p e r t i n e n t c o r o l l a r y of t h i s process i s that the a b o l i t i o n of time i s equivalent to the d e s t r u c t i o n of memory, not j u s t i n d i v i d u a l memory, but c o l l e c t i v e consciousness as w e l l .  What t h i s amounts to i s a remaking of  the world, representative of ignorance, f a i l u r e , and s u f f e r i n g , without h i s t o r y or memory, and, t h e r e f o r e , without s i n .  The e n t i r e process o f f e r s  i n s i g h t f u l p a r a l l e l s i n t o the purgative f u n c t i o n of a r t as Lowry conceives i t . Also important i n Indian philosophy  i s the idea that the universe  undergoes cycles of c r e a t i o n and d e s t r u c t i o n .  Each cycle culminates i n  a f i r e which i s extinguished by a f l o o d that preludes  re-creation.  Fire  and water imagery, employed i n a s i m i l a r sense, are of course prevalent throughout Lowry's work, most p a r t i c u l a r l y applied with reference to h i s burned manuscript of In B a l l a s t to the White Sea and to the charred ruins a t D o l l a r t o n .  To Lowry, each of these represented  a cycle of  c r e a t i o n halted by f i r e , each d e s t r u c t i o n culminating i n a r e b i r t h . In Hindu r e l i g i o n , the s e l f , Atman, must be r e a l i z e d f u l l y i n i n d i v i d u a l terms, but, u l t i m a t e l y , i t becomes part of an a l l - p e r v a d i n g unity. Buddhistic b e l i e f , on the other hand, postulates an ever-changing s e r i e s of states of mind and matter as the basis of s e l f .  In both,  however, self-knowledge allows one to be d e l i v e r e d from "the i l l u s o r y , 25 ephemeral world  . . . [which] i s the world that unfolds i n time,"  to a t t a i n s a l v a t i o n .  and  Yet even though the h i s t o r i c a l world, the world of  s o c i e t i e s and c i v i l i z a t i o n s , i s not of f i n a l importance, one cannot, as the lesson of The Bhagavad Gita makes c l e a r , renounce h i s h i s t o r i c a l and s o c i a l locus.  The world of time i s i l l u s o r y , not because i t i s u n r e a l ,  14  but because, i n terms of cosmic rhythms, i t e x i s t s only f o r a f l a s h , an instant.  What man needs i s p e r s p e c t i v e , seeing h i s own l i f e i n r e l a t i o n -  ship to the whole, y e t , a t the same time, c a r r y i n g the onus of responsib i l i t y f o r that l i f e .  I t i s j u s t t h i s point of view that the Consul  lacks i n Chapter X of Under the Volcano when he t r i e s to minimize the value of human i n t e n t i o n s . The moral r a m i f i c a t i o n s of the Indian a t t i t u d e appealed strongly to Lowry and complemented the s p e c i a l value which he accorded Chinese philosophy with i t s basis i n e t h i c a l imperatives.  Rather than an other-  w o r l d l y outlook, such a t e x t as the I Ching concentrates on the need f o r harmony i n t h i s w o r l d , a harmony which i s a t t a i n e d when man and h i s i n s t i t u t i o n s move i n conjunction with natural law. The p r i n c i p l e underl y i n g t h i s concord i s Tao: Worthy to be the Mother of a l l things . . . . . . I s h a l l c a l l i t "Great." Being great implies reaching out i n space, Reaching out i n space implies f a r - r e a c h i n g , far-reaching implies reversion to the o r i g i n a l point. . . . Therefore: Tao i s Great, the Heaven i s Great, the Earth i s Great, the King i s a l s o Great. These are the Great Four i n the u n i v e r s e , . . . Man models himself a f t e r the Earth; the Earth models i t s e l f a f t e r Heaven; ^ The Heaven models i t s e l f a f t e r Tao. The i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p between the human and natural worlds f i n d s expression i n the s e n s i t i v i t y Lowry d i s p l a y s , i n both h i s l i f e and h i s a r t , toward the environment, i n the degree t o which he i d e n t i f i e s with natural processes, and i n the disgust he experiences (as i s evident i n a story such as "Gin and Goldenrod") a t man's despoilment of nature's beauty and  15  vitality.  More important, perhaps, i s the f a c t that "The  Forest Path  to the Spring," i n which Lowry wanted to combine the force and common to c l a s s i c a l tragedy with the concept of the  stature  with the idea of r e i n t e g r a t i o n , should  close  Tao:  Then we saw that the whole dark water was covered with b r i g h t expanding phosphorescent c i r c l e s . Only when my wife f e l t the warm mild r a i n on her naked shoulders d i d she r e a l i z e i t was r a i n i n g . They were p e r f e c t expanding c i r c l e s of l i g h t , f i r s t t i n y c i r c l e s as b r i g h t as a c o i n , then becoming expanding rings growing f a i n t e r and f a i n t e r , while as the r a i n f e l l i n t o the phosphorescent water each raindrop expanded i n t o a r i p p l e that was t r a n s l a t e d i n t o l i g h t . And the r a i n i t s e l f was water from the sea . . . r a i s e d to heaven by the sun, transformed i n t o clouds, and f a l l i n g again i n t o the sea. While w i t h i n the i n l e t i t s e l f the t i d e s and currents i n that sea returned, became remote, and becoming remote, l i k e that which i s c a l l e d the Tao, returned again as we ourselves had done.27 Evident i n t h i s passage, and c r u c i a l to both Lowry's and A s i a t i c b e l i e f , i s the image of the c i r c l e .  The unity of Tao i s a l s o that of  the mandala, the magic c i r c l e which contains i n i t s centre the f o u n t a i n 28 head of l i f e and consciousness. off  The concept involves both the marking  of a sacred p r e c i n c t , the s e l f , and the movement i n a c i r c l e around  t h i s centre, a r o t a t i o n that a c t i v a t e s a l l facets of the p e r s o n a l i t y . This type of c i r c u l a r i t y informs both the s t r u c t u r e s of Lowry's separate novels as w e l l as the o v e r - a l l s t r u c t u r e of h i s projected sequence of novels.  Like M e l v i l l e , whose influence on Lowry was  he recognized  e s p e c i a l l y strong,  that i t i s only through the s t a b i l i t y of i t s centre that  the harmony of the c i r c l e can be perceived. the c i r c l e represents  the universe, t o t a l i t y .  In Moby Dick, f o r instance, Ahab desires to  transcend  a l l , to be himself an i n f i n i t e circumference with no f i x e d centre, but he learns that t h i s cannot be done.  Ishmael, on the other hand, r e a l i z e s  16  that through the f i x e d point of his i d e n t i t y he can perceive the world outside him. Lowry a r r i v e s a t a s i m i l a r c o n c l u s i o n , and the f i x e d p o i n t s , the centres of h i s c i r c l e s , are self-knowledge  and love:  Each drop f a l l i n g i n t o the sea i s l i k e a l i f e I thought, each producing a c i r c l e i n the ocean, or the medium of l i f e i t s e l f , and widening i t into i n f i n i t y , though i t seems to melt into the sea, and become i n v i s i b l e or disappear e n t i r e l y , and to be l o s t . Each i s i n t e r l o c k e d with other c i r c l e s f a l l i n g about i t , some are l a r g e r c i r c l e s expanding widely and engulfing o t h e r s , some are weaker, smaller c i r c l e s that only seem to l a s t a short while.29 The r e s t o r a t i o n of i d e n t i t y , through the reclamation of h i s past, renders the Lowry persona capable of l i f e and l o v e , and of saying of e i t h e r of these, "Thy firmness makes my c i r c l e j u s t . "  30  FOOTNOTES  Psyche and Symbol: A S e l e c t i o n from the Writings of C_. G. Jung, ed. V i o l e t S. Laszlo (New York, 1958), p. x x v i i . 2 Hans Meyerhoff, Time i n L i t e r a t u r e (London, Berkeley, Los Angeles, 1955), p. 42. 3 Margaret Church, Time and R e a l i t y : Studies i n Contemporary F i c t i o n (Chapel H i l l , 1949), p. 4. ^Henri Bergson, Time and Freewi11, trans. F. L. Pogson 1910), pp. 98-110.  (London,  c  Henri Bergson, Creative E v o l u t i o n , trans. Arthur M i t c h e l l (London, 1914), p. 5. Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, trans. Nancey Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer (London, 1912), p. 102. ^Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past, trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Frederick A. Blossom "(New York, 1924), I , p. 33. o  Matter and Memory, p. 322. g Proust, pp. 34-36. 10  M e y e r h o f f , p. 43.  1 1  I b i d . , p. 44.  12 Selected Poems of Malcolm Lowry, ed. Earle Birney (San Francisco, 1962), p. 69. 13 Jim Barnes has r e c e n t l y studied the Consul as a Sisyphus f i g u r e and pointed out numerous p a r a l l e l s between Lowry's novel and the myth, i n "The Myth of Sisyphus and Under the Volcano," PrS, 42 (1968), 341-348. C. G. Jung, Modern Man i n Search of a^ Soul, trans. W. S. Dell and Cary F. Baynes (New York, 193T), p. 113. 15  Faulkner i n the U n i v e r s i t y : Class Conferences a t the U n i v e r s i t y  18  of V i r g i n i a 1957-1958, ed. Frederick York, 1959), p. 85.  L. Gwynn and Joseph L. Blotner  (New  Selected Letters of Malcolm Lowry, ed. Harvey B r e i t and Margerie Bonner Lowry ( P h i l a d e l p h i a , 1965), p. 25. ^Immanuel Kant's C r i t i q u e of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kemp Smith (New York, 1950), p. 217. 1p Downie K i r k , "More than Music," CanL, 8 (Spring 1961), 35. 19 Psyche and Symbol, p. 267. ?n  Selected  L e t t e r s , p. 49.  21 Geoffrey Durrant, "Death i n L i f e : Neo-Platonic Elements i n 'Through the Panama'," CanL, 44 (Spring 1970), 13-27. 22 Perle D. E p s t e i n , The P r i v a t e Labyrinth of Malcolm Lowry: Under the Volcano and the Cabbala~TN~ew York, 1969). 2 3  I b i d , , p. 17  24 Mircea E l i a d e , "Time and E t e r n i t y i n Indian Thought," i n Man and Time: Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks, 3 (New York, B o l l i n g e n Series 30, and London, 1957J, p. 188. 2 5  I b i d . , p. 186.  26  T h e World's Great Religions  (New York, 1957), p. 96.  27 Malcolm Lowry, Hear Us 0_ Lord, From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place (New York, 1961), p. 282. 28 Psyche and Symbol, p. 323. 29  H e a r Us 0 Lord, p. 282.  30 John Donne, "A V a l e d i c t i o n : forbidding mourning," 1. 35.  CHAPTER I I ORTEGA AND DUNNE S t a t i n g the a e s t h e t i c basis of a p a r t i c u l a r w r i t e r ' s work i s l i k e deducing a formula a f t e r the f a c t ; i t i s a d e s c r i p t i v e r a t h e r than a p r e s c r i p t i v e task.  The value of a formula l i e s i n i t s s i m p l i c i t y and  conciseness, i t s a b i l i t y to express what i s i n f a c t a h i g h l y complex and i n t r i c a t e process i n a few key symbols and phrases.  I t i s i n this l i g h t  that the theories of Ortega and Dunne ought to be regarded.  Considered  alone, the i n s i g h t s that they o f f e r i n t o Lowry's a r t would remain a b s t r a c t and s i m p l i s t i c .  But i n conjunction with the somewhat incremental evidence  of the foregoing chapter, they f u r n i s h a c r i t i c a l framework around which the e a r l i e r ideas can be s y s t e m a t i c a l l y grouped.  Focusing on Lowry's  preoccupation with the past i n terms of Ortega's philosophy of man and h i s t o r y , seeing the i r r e g u l a r i t i e s of time and experience i n Lowry's l i f e from the point of view of Dunne's s e r i a l u n i v e r s e , d i s c l o s e s a consistency of c r i t i c a l approach that can both f a c i l i t a t e and accommodate the d i s c u r s i v e genre of i n t e n t i o n , method, and metaphor which i s Lowry's craft. Ortega's i s an e x i s t e n t i a l i s t view that regards man as e s s e n t i a l l y his  own c r e a t o r .  In c o n t r a s t with inanimate o b j e c t s , or animals, f o r  which t h e i r p o t e n t i a l i t y coincides with t h e i r r e a l i t y , man determines h i s own essence.  For Ortega, there are only two v a r i a b l e s which a f f e c t one's  being--the I or ego, and the circumstances i n which the ego f i n d s  itself.  T h e o r e t i c a l l y , man's range of p o s s i b i l i t i e s i s i n f i n i t e , but i n p r a c t i c e  20 he i s l i m i t e d .  He f i r s t e x i s t s , but not i n i s o l a t i o n ; he e x i s t s i n a  set of circumstances out of which, through his imagination, he invents that which he i s going to be.  There i s an aspect of d i v i n i t y here, but,  u n l i k e God's, man's c r e a t i o n i s not absolute since i t i s l i m i t e d by i t s s e t t i n g : "man  i s a God as occasion o f f e r s . " ^  Even with t h i s r e s t r i c t i o n ,  however, the c o r o l l a r y c o n d i t i o n of freedom of choice p e r t a i n s . a l l y , t h i s status i s i t s e l f a c o n s t r a i n t ; man  i s "free by  Ironic-  compulsion,"  and "to be f r e e means to be l a c k i n g i n c o n s t i t u t i v e i d e n t i t y . . . 2 able to be other than what one was."  to be  Man, as i t were, invents f o r him-  s e l f a program of l i f e which, i n conception, i s s t a t i c because he believes that t h i s created character i s h i s real being.  But a c t u a l l y the circum-  stances of l i f e vary, and as they a l t e r so must the character change. Man's l i f e thus becomes a course of "accumulating being--the past; he goes on making f o r himself a being through a d i a l e c t i c a l process of 3  h i s t o r i c a l reason,"  that i s . a synthesis of past s e l f and present demands,  and that produces a new though s t i l l f l u i d p e r s o n a l i t y . Faced with a prospect of continual change man can only understand himself through h i s t o r i c a l reason; not only i s i t i n t h i s l i g h t that " l i f e takes on a measure of transparency," but, i n f a c t , h i s t o r y i s man's only r e a l i t y . life.  As such, i t alone can form the basis of a l l subsequent  Everything that man has been determines what he can become; a l l  that he has done, or even f a i l e d to do, l i m i t s his p o s s i b l e a l t e r n a t i v e s . In t h i s view, to r e a l i z e one's p o t e n t i a l , i t i s necessary to centre ones e l f i n the past: "To comprehend anything human, be i t personal or 4 c o l l e c t i v e , one must t e l l i t s h i s t o r y . " Quite n a t u r a l l y , d i s t i n g u i s h i n g  21  one's i d e n t i t y which i s buried i n one's previous l i f e i s a f u n c t i o n of memory.  According to Ortega, i t i s p r e c i s e l y the f a c u l t y of memory that  d i s t i n g u i s h e s man from the animals.  Each of the l a t t e r i s doomed to  begin l i f e anew, each i s the f i r s t of i t s type.  Man, i n c o n t r a s t , " i s  not a f i r s t man, an Eternal Adam; he i s f o r m a l l y a second man, a t h i r d 5  man, e t c . , "  and i t i s memory that both provides him with a record of  e a r l i e r experiences on which to b u i l d and a l s o y i e l d s c o n t i n u i t y to h i s existence.  Ortega b e l i e v e s that to be f u l l y human i s "to be able to  continue one's yesterday today without thereby ceasing to l i v e f o r t o morrow; to l i v e i n the real present, since the present i s only the presence of the past and f u t u r e , the place where past and f u t u r e a c t u a l l y exist."  6  Ortega's philosophy places great worth on i n d i v i d u a l l i f e ; i t p r i z e s d i v e r s i t y , i n d i v i d u a l i t y , and c r e a t i v i t y .  I t also stresses i n d i -  vidual r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the way i n which that l i f e i s spent, f o r the "destiny" that a man i s impelled to f o l l o w .  F u l f i l m e n t i s the g o a l , a  personal s a l v a t i o n i r r e s p e c t i v e of the imposed d e f i n i t i o n s that f a m i l y , s o c i e t y , or occupation comprise.  Ortega's i s an o l d view that considers  these l a t t e r , the world i n s h o r t , dependent upon the former--the  reforma-  t i o n , the improvement of humanity and i t s i n s t i t u t i o n s i s consequent to self-knowledge and s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n .  H i s t o r y as a System enabled Lowry  to f i n d i n Ortega a kindred s p i r i t i n terms of the value and v a l i d i t y of i n d i v i d u a l l i f e , and a l s o , a coherent metaphysical j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r his  own s p e c i a l c o n c e r n — t h e  an u n q u a l i f i e d sympathy.  past.  Yet, needless to say, Lowry's was not  One important d i f f e r e n c e i s that Ortega, l i k e  Bergson, d i s b e l i e v e d i n the r e p e a t a b i l i t y of the past.  Ortega s t a t e s  22 c a t e g o r i c a l l y that time cannot recur simply because man cannot go back to being what he once was.  Obviously, an idea such as t h i s needs to be  both a m p l i f i e d and modified before i t can e x h i b i t any relevance to a novel on the order of Dark as the Grave. Perhaps what i s important i s frequently not so much what a p a r t i c u l a r philosophy  s t a t e s , but rather the way i n which i t gives  to the ideas i t embodies.  expression  Ortega i s an o r i g i n a l t h i n k e r because his  opinions are the r e s u l t of a fresh and independent approach, a free and unhampered s p i r i t of enquiry coming to i t s own conclusions.  But h i s  views are not novel; they share the concerns and the assumptions of a great many t h i n k e r s .  The impact o f h i s arguments on Lowry, however,  o r i g i n a t e s i n h i s metaphors.  For example, the representation of l i f e as  a ship i s common i n l i t e r a t u r e , notably i n conjunction with a m y s t i c a l , neo-Platonic, or Romantic outlook. i s not a s h i p , but a shipwreck.  Ortega extends the image; to him l i f e  The same f i g u r e abounds i n Lowry's  w r i t i n g , prose, poetry, and l e t t e r s : S.O.S. Sinking f a s t by both bow and stern S.O.S. Worse than both the Morrow Castle S.O.S. and the T i t a n i c S.O.S. No ship can think of anything else to do when S.O.S. i t i s i n danger -. S.O.S. But to ask i t s c l o s e s t f r i e n d f o r help. Ortega would consider the desperation that Lowry's l e t t e r reveals i m p l i c i t of hope.  Only with p e r i l does man lose his i l l u s i o n s of s e c u r i t y  and begin to e x e r t , to redeem himself: "Consciousness of shipwreck, being p  the t r u t h of l i f e , c o n s t i t u t e s s a l v a t i o n . "  The s i m i l a r i t y between  Ortega's statement and the epigraph from Goethe a t the beginning o f Under  23 the Volcano i s immediately apparent. The image, frequently used by Ortega, which impressed Lowry with the greatest f o r c e was man idea i s twofold.  as the n o v e l i s t of himself.  The value of t h i s  In one sense, man makes himself on the order of an  a r t i s t ' s c r e a t i o n ; i n other words man  l i t e r a l l y writes h i m s e l f , he i s  the determiner of the form, the expression of his own  l i f e ; no matter i  "whether he be o r i g i n a l or a p l a g i a r i s t , man  i s the n o v e l i s t of himself."  Here l i f e i t s e l f becomes an a r t i f a c t , a record of the c o n f r o n t a t i o n between man  and r e a l i t y .  This image appears i n Lowry's work through h i s  use of a n o v e l i s t as p r o t a g o n i s t , h i s autobiographical emphasis, h i s c r e a t i n g , recovering and recording h i s own experiences. cation of Ortega's metaphor i s that man  The other i m p l i -  becomes involved i n the c r e a t i o n  which i s his l i f e as does a n o v e l i s t i n his w r i t i n g , each, creator and c r e a t i o n , being modified, transformed, by the presence of the other.  It  i s i n Dark as the Grave that t h i s sense i s expressed most f o r c e f u l l y . Man becomes a f u n c t i o n of his experiences:  "Man  i s not h i s body, which i s  a t h i n g , nor his s o u l , psyche, conscience, or s p i r i t , which i s a l s o a thing.  Man  i s no t h i n g , but a drama—his l i f e , a pure and u n i v e r s a l  happening which happens to each one of us and i n which each one i n his turn i s nothing but a happening."^  In a l e t t e r to Downie K i r k , Lowry  discusses these aspects of Ortega's  philosophy:  This probably recommends i t s e l f to me p a r t l y because i f i t i s t r u e , and man i s a s o r t of n o v e l i s t of himself, I can see something p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y valuable i n attempting to set down what a c t u a l l y happens in a n o v e l i s t ' s mind when he conceives what he conceives to be the f a n c i f u l f i g u r e of a personage, e t c . , f o r t h i s , the p a r t that never gets w r i t t e n — w i t h which i s included the true impulses that made him  24 a n o v e l i s t i n the f i r s t place, and the m o d i f i c a t i o n of l i f e around him through his own eyes as those impulses were r e a l i z e d — w o u l d be the true drama . . . and I hope to f i n i s h something of t h i s s o r t one day . . . I t ' s r e f r e s h i n g to read a philosophy that gives value to the drama of l i f e i t s e l f , of the dramatic value of your own l i f e at the very moment you are reading.11 This sense of involvement, of the i n t e r p e n e t r a t i o n of l i f e and a r t , was something that Lowry knew w e l l , not only i n terms of a e s t h e t i c s , but a l s o i n the day to day r e a l i t i e s of his personal  life.  He was quick to  note the s i m i l a r i t y between Ortega's ideas i n t h i s respect and those of Pirandello. his  The l a t t e r regarded the a r t i s t as being somehow caught up i n  c r e a t i o n ; more than t h i s , i n f a c t , he seemed i n some way  with i t .  in conflict  P i r a n d e l l o believed that a character acquired a r e a l i t y , an  i d e n t i t y of i t s own,  a l i f e independent of the work that includes i t  which nevertheless requires that work to s u s t a i n i t s existence.  Here,  the author becomes p r i m a r i l y a l i b e r a t i n g f o r c e , f r e e i n g his characters, g i v i n g them b i r t h , to act t h e i r drama i n a way it.  that they may  understand  The complexity of the process increases when those characters  themselves aspects of t h e i r c r e a t o r ; then "you who  are  act your own part be-  12 come the puppet of y o u r s e l f . " Six  Characters  While acknowledging the profundity of  i n Search of an Author, Lowry f e l t that P i r a n d e l l o f a i l e d  to r e a l i z e the f u l l  i m p l i c a t i o n s of his i d e a , or to carry i t f a r enough.  P i r a n d e l l o stopped short with the idea of a r t lending order and, theref o r e , coherence and value to l i f e .  Lowry, however, extends the idea as  when S i g b j 0 r n , i n Dark as the Grave, "seemed to see how.life flowed i n t o art:  how a r t gives l i f e a form and meaning and flows on i n t o l i f e , y e t  l i f e has not stood s t i l l ; that was what was always f o r g o t t e n : how  life  25  transformed by a r t sought f u r t h e r meaning through a r t transformed by  life."  1 3  To f i n d confirmation of one's b e l i e f s i s more than j u s t a g r a t i f y i n g experience; i t i s p o s s i b l y e s s e n t i a l .  Ortega presented Lowry with  a coherent approach to r e a l i t y , the tenets of which more or less c o i n cided with many of his own. There remain, however, many phenomena a c t i v e in Lowry's experience which never troubled Ortega but which d i d intrude i n t o the l i f e of J . W. Dunne.  Lowry was i n t r i g u e d by Dunne's book, An  Experiment with Time, which attempts to give a s c i e n t i f i c explanation to such matters as recurrence, coincidence, and p r e - c o g n i t i o n , and to place them f i r m l y i n the normal, not the super-normal or supernatural, world. An a r t i s t ' s technique and h i s v i s i o n go hand i n hand.  In Dunne, Lowry  found a view of the universe which c l o s e l y p a r a l l e l e d both h i s theories and h i s s t y l e - - h i s involved s t r u c t u r e , h i s layers of meaning, h i s concept i o n of r e a l i t y as a s e r i e s of "Chinese boxes." Dunne, an English engineer, became i n t e r e s t e d f o r p r a c t i c a l reasons in c e r t a i n occurrences f o r which modern science seemed unable to account. These p r a c t i c a l reasons stemmed from the f a c t that Dunne found himself experiencing a future event i n a dream.  I t was not r e a l l y what he could  c a l l a premonition of the f u t u r e ; r a t h e r , the i n c i d e n t displayed a l l the normal q u a l i t i e s of a dream, which i s g e n e r a l l y considered to comprise events that have already happened but remain a c t i v e i n the unconscious mind. the  I t was, i n f a c t , as i f he had already p a r t i c i p a t e d i n the event;  only unusual q u a l i t y was i t s displacement i n time.  Two fundamental  questions evolved from t h i s : could such an experience be explained, and,  26 i f one could i n some way foresee events, could he then intervene to prevent or a l t e r t h e i r outcome?  Since neither physics nor metaphysics  d e a l t s u f f i c i e n t l y with these problems, Dunne construed h i s own theory of a s e r i a l universe which not only accommodated these i r r e g u l a r i t i e s , but showed that they were not i r r e g u l a r a t a l l , t h a t , indeed, they were normal c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of both sleeping and waking l i f e . Dunne's scheme i s based on the p r i n c i p l e of i n f i n i t e r e g r e s s i o n . His basic premise begins with the four-dimensional space-time  continuum  of modern physics, but he goes on to assume that i f time changes a t a l l  :  before the conventional time-fixed observer, then there must be a second time which times i t , and a t h i r d which times the second, and so on i n a series.  Pushed to the extreme, one would f i n d "a s i n g l e multi-dimension-,  al f i e l d of presentation i n absolute motion, t r a v e l l i n g over a f i x e d substratum of o b j e c t i v e elements extended i n a l l the dimensions  of time.""''  There w i l l e x i s t an "absolute Time" which times a l l the moments: "The present moment of t h i s absolute Time must contain a l l the moments of 'past', 'present' and ' f u t u r e ' , of a l l the subordinate dimensions of 15 Time."  From these hypotheses emerge the three fundamental laws of a  s e r i a l universe: (1)  Every t i m e - t r a v e l l i n g f i e l d of presentation i s contained w i t h i n a f i e l d one-dimension l a r g e r and t r a v e l l i n g i n another dimension of time which covers the past, present and f u t u r e of the smaller field.  (2)  The s e r i a l i s m of the f i e l d s of presentation i n v o l v e s the e x i s tence of a s e r i a l observer.  (3)  The focus of a t t e n t i o n i n any f i e l d has the same number of dimensions as has that f i e l d , and i t i s a dimensional centre of the f o c i of a t t e n t i o n i n a l l the higher f i e l d s J G  27  Dunne concluded from h i s experiments that regressions of consciousness, w i l l , and time were p e r f e c t l y v a l i d and l o g i c a l , and that they were, i n f a c t , the true foundations of a l l e p i s t e m o l o g y . ^  He completely  discarded the two conventional views of time length ( l i n e a r i t y ) and time motion ( s u c c e s s i o n ) , and saw, i n s t e a d , man s i t u a t e d w i t h i n a framework of absolute time i n which a l l times are contained, i n c l u d i n g the f u t u r e , which f o r Bergson does not e x i s t and f o r Ortega e x i s t s only as p o t e n t i a l i t y , and i n which a l l times are simultaneously a c t i v e .  Past and f u t u r e  i n c i d e n t s produce images i n man's mind with approximately equal frequency, and man's a t t e n t i o n can range i n e i t h e r d i r e c t i o n .  But because of  ignorance and h a b i t man regards time i n l i n e a r sequential f a s h i o n , and he erects a r b i t r a r y b a r r i e r s that admit the past and the r o l e of memory while r e j e c t i n g the f u t u r e . Dunne's hypothesis i s not wholly u n l i k e that of P. D. Ouspensky with whom Lowry was a l s o f a m i l i a r .  Ouspensky, too, b e l i e v e d i n a m u l t i -  dimensional universe or cosmos, but h i s consisted of e x a c t l y seven dimensions.  Access to these planes of experience depended on the degree of  one's psychic development.  Ouspensky b e l i e v e d , however, that i t was  absurd to approach such matters as f o r e s i g h t and t e l e p a t h y , which are properties of the higher dimensions, by science or mathematics; on the contrary, these things were s u b j e c t i v e , mystical experiences and deserved s i m i l a r means of study.  Ouspensky does not seem to have exerted the  same force on Lowry as d i d Dunne.  For one t h i n g , the r o l e of the obser-  v e r , so important f o r both Dunne and Lowry, seems to be, i f not l a c k i n g , at l e a s t treated i n a manner to which Lowry d i d not respond with the same immediacy as he did to Dunne's "higher order observer."  28 Indeed, Dunne's concept of the s e r i a l or "higher order observer" i s e s p e c i a l l y r e l e v a n t to Lowry's work.  S e r i a l i s m d i s c l o s e s the existence 18  of an i n d i v i d u a l soul with a d e f i n i t e beginning i n absolute time. This i s a s u p e r l a t i v e general or s y n t h e t i c observer who i s the source of a l l the s e l f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s , i n t e n t i o n , and i n t e r v e n t i o n which underlies ordinary thought.  He contains w i t h i n himself a less generalized observer  who i s the p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n of a l l g e n e a l o g i c a l l y r e l a t e d l i f e and who i s capable of thought and p r e v i s i o n beyond conventional human c a p a b i l i t i e s . S p e c i f i c a l l y , observer^ sees field-j-, o b s e r v e ^ sees f i e ^ which includes observer-j plus field-j w i t h i n i t s broader view.  F i n a l l y , the s y n t h e t i c  observer partakes of a l l the l i f e - l i n e s of everyone else since they are a l l w i t h i n his f i e l d of presentation. Therefore, every l e s s e r observer i s , i n a sense, an aspect of the s y n t h e t i c observer. B a s i c a l l y , " a l l 19 observation i s the observation of a higher order observer."  Self-  consciousness requires that an i n d i v i d u a l see himself as an e n t i t y i n the process of observing, he must be aware of a higher order s e l f viewing the more l i m i t e d s e l f ; l i k e self-knowledge, memories are a l s o the property of a higher order observer. One of the immediate i m p l i c a t i o n s of t h i s concept i s that i f a s e r i a l observer i s an aspect of one's s e l f , and i f he can experience a 'pre-presentation" of the f u t u r e , then i n theory, at l e a s t , he could i n t e r vene and i n f l u e n c e the course of events.  This i s i n f a c t the case.  A  higher order observer can and does intervene, but, again from ignorance or h a b i t , conventional man does not recognize his powers.  While i n  r e a l i t y he may be seeing f o u r - d i m e n s i o n a l l y , he makes the mistake of  29  i n t e r p r e t i n g h i s view i n terms of only three dimensions. What he must learn i s that a higher order observer's f i e l d must be examined i n the l i g h t of h i s broader v i s i o n . The a p p l i c a t i o n of these ideas to Lowry's technique p r a c t i c a l l y explains i t s e l f .  The author fragments himself and s t r u c t u r e s his exper-  ience i n a way that each persona becomes, as i t were, an observer of a d i f f e r e n t dimension of r e a l i t y .  Self-knowledge, the g o a l , requires the  r e c o g n i t i o n of a second s e l f and so on.  But each i s simply an aspect of  the t o t a l s e l f whose f i e l d of presentation gets broader a t each dimensional remove.  In a sense, Lowry i s the l i m i t i n g dimension embodying  f o r h i s f i c t i v e world absolute time and maximum powers of i n t e r v e n t i o n , but even t h i s need not be the f i n a l other than f o r purposes of convenience, and Lowry, h i m s e l f , could be included as simply a part of the scheme, with the reader as observer with somewhat modified powers of n  interference. Lowry conveys t h i s sense of being himself a s e r i a l element i n the short s t o r y "Through the Panama" where one f i n d s Lowry w r i t i n g about Sigbj0rn who i s w r i t i n g about Martin Trumbaugh who i s w r i t i n g about Lowry's l i f e i n Mexico.  As Sigbj0rn passes through the Panama Canal he  notices a man i n a control tower who has assembled before him a complete model of the e n t i r e system of locks "and thus i s a b l e — g h a s t l y image of 20  the modern w o r l d — t o see what i s happening a t every moment."  Yet even  t h i s man i s not the highest order observer: That man s i t t i n g up i n the control tower high above the topmost lock who, by the way i s myself, and who would f e e l p e r f e c t l y comfortable i f only he d i d not know that there was y e t another man s i t t i n g y e t  30  higher above him i n his i n v i s i b l e control tower, who a l s o has a model of the canal locks before him, c a r e f u l l y b u i l t , which r e g i s t e r s e l e c t r i c a l l y the exact depth of everything J_ do, and who thus i s able to see everything that i s happening to me at every moment—and worse, everything that i s going to happen.21 A c r u c i a l i m p l i c a t i o n of a s e r i a l view of existence i s that any s e r i e s must have a f i r s t term which stands i n a d i f f e r e n t r e l a t i o n to a l l the other terms i n that i t has a beginning and an end. the time-j dimension, of which f i e l d death i s a property.  This occurs i n Commentators  such as Church and Meyerhoff have pointed out that the idea of death i s frequently at the cornerstone of contemporary thought; i t i s the f u t u r e , the i r r e v e r s i b i l i t y of time-movement toward death, that defines consciousness.  But a s e r i a l universe defeats t h i s e f f e c t of t h i s kind of  time, and i t f o s t e r s the use, i n l i t e r a t u r e , of mythological extension, c i r c u l a r i t y , and recurrence.  Death i s not a s e r i a l element and appears  as the f i n a l and i n e v i t a b l e end of l i f e only to a time^ observer but not to any higher order observer. Ultimate t r u t h i s a property of closed systems such as science or mathematics.  Dunne intended his philosophy to s u r v i v e on the rules of  such a given system, and, as such, i t s v a l i d i t y depended on i t s compata b i l i t y with those r u l e s .  In an a r t i c l e on Lowry's reading which includes  a b r i e f d i s c u s s i o n of Dunne's i n f l u e n c e , W. H. New  notes that while  s e r i a l ism enjoyed some success, i t was eventually c r i t i c i s e d f o r t r e a t i n g time i n s p a t i a l terms, f o r confusing the problems of time passing with those of time passed, and f o r i n t e r p r e t i n g time as i t s e l f a process i n 22 time.  An a r t i s t , on the other hand, conceives a r e a l i t y that i s not a  d e f i n i t i o n of the world so much as i t i s a metaphorical expression of  31  his  perception of i t .  Hence, the v a l i d i t y of the a r t i s t ' s view does not  hinge on i t s conformity to accepted axioms.  Thus Dunne's view afforded  some w r i t e r s a useful device; s e r i a l ism merits c o n s i d e r a t i o n , f o r i n s t a n c e , i n Finnegan's Wake, and i t provides one of the basic frameworks on which Jorge Louis Borges constructs many of his s t o r i e s .  And i n the a r t i c l e  j u s t mentioned, New goes on to point out how well Dunne's notion of r e gress served Lowry: Events i n time past, r e l i v e d i n the memory, occur simultaneously i n time present, which epitomizes i n i t s way the process of "rec r e a t i o n " that reading a novel involves readers i n . But f u r t h e r : Wilderness, [ i n Dark as the Grave] returning to his own and h i s novel's Mexican past, i s s t i l l moving through time i n t o the f u t u r e . Out of h i s memory of the past he a n t i c i p a t e s events i n the f u t u r e , which possess a v i v i d and o b j e c t i v e r e a l i t y f o r him and do "happen." On the basis, of t h i s "dream" experience, however, the w i l l may exert i t s e l f and thus a l t e r the nature of the " a c t u a l " experience that subsequently occurs. To Lowry t h i s process was extremely important. C e r t a i n as he was that there e x i s t e d a u n i t y between l i f e and death, body and s o u l , r e a l i t y and u n r e a l i t y , he found here a key to the metaphysics that joined them.23 Systems of h i s t o r y , p h i l o s o p h i c a l world-views, and s c i e n t i f i c concepts are a b s t r a c t ; they t r e a t of g e n e r a l i t i e s .  U l t i m a t e l y , Lowry i s  concerned with f i c t i o n , which i s s p e c i f i c , with the p r e c i s e combinations of i n d i v i d u a l s , d e t a i l s , c o l o u r s , s i g h t s , sounds, thoughts, and actions that make up Under the Volcano or Dark as the Grave.  FOOTNOTES  1  Jose Ortega y Gasset, History as a^ System and other Essays Toward a Philosophy of H i s t o r y , trans. HeTene Weyl (New York, 1941), "206 2  I b i d . , p. 203.  3  I b i d . , p. 216.  4  I b i d . , p. 214.  5  I b i d . , p. 220.  6  I b i d . , p. 83.  ^Selected Letters , p. 11. o  Ortega, "In Search of Goethe from Within," i n The Dehumanization of A r t and Other Writings on A r t and Culture (New York, 1956), p. 127. g History as a System, p. 203. 1 Q  I b i d . , pp. 199-200. Selected L e t t e r s , pp. 210-211.  1 1  12 Six Characters i n Search of an Author: A Comedy i n the Making, i n Naked Masks: Five Plays by L u i g i P i r a n d e l l o , ed. E r i c Bentley (New York, 1952TTp. 214. 13 Malcolm Lowry, Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend i s L a i d , ed. Douglas Day and Margerie Lowry (Cleveland, 1968), p. 43. ^ J . W. Dunne, An Experiment with Time (London, 1927), p. 157. 1 5  I b i d . , p. 157.  1 6  I b i d . , pp. 158-159.  ^ I b i d . , p. v i . 1 8  I b i d . , pp. 195-196.  33  1 9  I b i d . , p. 168.  20  H e a r Us 0 Lord, p. 61. I b i d . , p. 63.  2 1  22 W. H. New, "Lowry's Reading: An Introductory Essay," CanL, 44 (Spring 1970), 8. 2 3  I b i d . , pp. 8-9.  CHAPTER I I I UNDER THE VOLCANO "Over the town, i n the dark tempestuous n i g h t , backwards revolved the  luminous wheel."^  the  Volcano are contained a l l the i m p l i c a t i o n s of the roles of time and  memory i n the novel.  In the image which ends the f i r s t chapter of Under  The book i t s e l f i s designed as, among other t h i n g s ,  a wheel with twelve spokes, the motion of which, the progression from f i r s t chapter to l a s t , " i s something l i k e t h a t , conceivably, of time 2 itself."  The temporal movement, however, extends i n both d i r e c t i o n s ,  forward i n t o the f u t u r e of the novel and backward i n t o the past, as the bulk of the work unfolds the events of the same day p r e c i s e l y one year earlier.  The book concerns i t s e l f not only with the personal h i s t o r i e s  of i t s main c h a r a c t e r s , but a l s o through i t s s e t t i n g , i t s imagery, i t s a l l u s i o n s , and i t s language, with the c o l l e c t i v e past and memory of mankind.  A l l of t h i s i s placed i n a context that implies a sense of  futurity.  The s t a t u r e of the characters and the moral force of the novel  require a t l e a s t the p o s s i b i l i t y of redemption, but i t i s a p o s s i b i l i t y that can be r e a l i z e d only through a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n with the t o t a l past. Lowry achieves such a tremendous scope f o r h i s novel by a v a r i e t y of techniques. The a c t i o n i s s e t i n Mexico, i t s e l f both a meeting place of the w o r l d , as well as a kind of archetypal Garden of Eden, whose h i s t o r y of conquest and e x p l o i t a t i o n provides a perspective from which to view the f a s c i s t rape of Mexico, the Spanish C i v i l War and World War I I . The time i s the Day of the Dead when the l i v i n g turn back to commune with  35 the past.  Like Joyce or Cocteau, Lowry juxtaposes modern, personal l i f e  against myth and a l l e g o r y to stress the c o n t i n u i t y , and also the d i v e r gences, between present l i f e and a kind of Jungian unconscious or r a c i a l past.  C i t a t i o n s from Dante and Bunyan contribute to t h i s e f f e c t , as do  the innumerable references to both Western and Oriental mythology  such  as David Markson has pointed out i n an a r t i c l e emphasizing the t e x t u r a l 3  richness of Under the Volcano.  The most extensive and c o n s i s t e n t l y  developed m o t i f , however, i s that of Faust: Employing the Faust archetype, Lowry has achieved the sense of i r o n i c d i s s i m i l a r i t y and y e t of profound human c o n t i n u i t y between the modern protagonist and h i s long dead exemplars; he has a l s o locked past and present together s p a t i a l l y i n a timeless unity by transmuting the time-world of h i s t o r y i n t o the timeless world of myth.4 Underlying these various a l l u s i o n s i s the a l l e g o r y of the Garden of Eden, f u r n i s h i n g a touchstone of pre-lapsarian harmony and innocence by which man, represented by the Consul,.can be measured.  But man i n  the novel i s f a l l e n man, expelled from Eden, or worse, consigned to a ruined paradise, l i k e Geoffrey's garden, tangled and chaotic as a j u n g l e , and forced "to go on l i v i n g t h e r e , alone, of c o u r s e — s u f f e r i n g , unseen, cut  o f f from God" (137).  Geoffrey's alcoholism equals the world's  drunkenness; his i s o l a t i o n and a l i e n a t i o n , h i s g u i l t and remorse are also the world's f a i l u r e s ; h i s search f o r s a l v a t i o n from the consequences of h i s previous l i f e i s also.the world's search. time.  The question i s one of  I t i s too l a t e to r e c u l t i v a t e the ruined garden?  "Can Geoffrey  assume the g u i l t of the world on h i s shoulders, i s he equipped to perform the Messianic descent; or has he merely become an engine of d e s t r u c t i o n 5 for destruction's sake?"  36 The use of myth and a l l e g o r y does more than j u s t e l i m i n a t e h i s torical barriers.  P a r t i c u l a r l y where the a l l u s i o n s i n v o l v e r e l i g i o u s or  mystical elements a c o n t r a s t i s e s t a b l i s h e d between conventional, mechanical time and cosmic time.  Seldom has a n o v e l i s t been as  pied with clock time as i s Lowry.  preoccu-  Clocks and watches abound i n the novel,  b e l l s chime the hour, even the swimming pool as i t f i l l e d clock . . . Tak: tok: help: help" (75).  "ticked like a  The sense conveyed i s that of  time running out, of an almost e x i s t e n t i a l i n e v i t a b i l i t y of death and of the consequent need f o r haste.  Yet l i f e and death i n the novel  are  viewed i n a perspective that includes both as elements of a wider g e s t a l t and that extends f a r beyond e i t h e r .  Lowry seems to be suggesting  v a l i d i t y and the importance of each time reference. man  the  In terms of e t e r n i t y ,  occupies, perhaps, only an i n t e r v a l of a c y c l e , but t h i s i n t e r v a l i s  real and c o n s t i t u t e s h i s chance f o r redemption; as such, i t cannot be abrogated or ignored.  This accounts, i n p a r t , f o r the irony involved  when Hugh, who has remained l a r g e l y o b l i v i o u s to the e f f e c t of time passing on his l i f e , i s asked the time by E i n s t e i n , whose view was mic and who  cos-  contributed so much to the diminution of the importance of  mechanical time; Hugh could not t e l l him u n t i l he "pointed out the clock which n e i t h e r of them had noticed" (186). The breadth and d i v e r s i t y thus given to time allows the  twelve  hours of the novel to be seen as a s t e a d i l y expanding e n t i t y which comprises p r o g r e s s i v e l y a day i n the l i v e s of the c h a r a c t e r s , the respect i v e l i f e t i m e s of each of the characters i n t h i s day, the h i s t o r y and d e s t i n a t i o n of the race, and, u l t i m a t e l y , the c r e a t i o n and impending  37  d e s t r u c t i o n of the universe.  Personal s a l v a t i o n i s the g o a l , s e l f -  knowledge the key, to e s t a b l i s h some kind of harmony i n the day which would r e c o n c i l e the tensions of a l i f e t i m e , thus becoming exemplary to a world bent on d i s s o l u t i o n ; and t h i s i s possible only through the e f f o r t to recover, v i a memory, that which has been l o s t , to r e s t o r e , through a c t i o n , that which has been destroyed.  That the attempt f a i l s i s not as  important as that i t has been made, f o r as Hugh r e a l i z e s , "the past i r r e v o c a b l y past.  And conscience had been given man  so f a r as that might change the f u t u r e .  For man,  was  to regret i t only i n  every man  . . . must  c e a s e l e s s l y struggle upward" (112). The novel contains lengthy expository passages i n which the h i s t o r i e s of the major characters are revealed.  Jacques L a r u e l l e ' s walk i n  Chapter I becomes a kind of circumambience of his l i f e with the Cerveceria XX f u n c t i o n i n g as the hub of his wheel where time i s suspended in the co-existence of past and present.  6  Not only i s h i s i d e n t i t y d e l i n -  eated during his walk, but a l s o , the various themes of the novel and e s s e n t i a l background of the a c t i o n are exposed.  the  The barranca which he  crosses, the f i l m Las Manos de O r l a c , the book of Elizabethan plays and the l e t t e r i t c o n t a i n s , a l l t r i g g e r Proustian chains of a s s o c i a t i o n i n his  memory that both r e v i v e the previous events, and y e t foreshadow the  succeeding  episodes of the book.  be seen as Jacques  1  In f a c t , i n one sense, the novel  r e c o l l e c t i o n of these  The ravine r e c a l l s to Jacques  1  can  experiences.  mind the Hell Bunker which, i n i t s  t u r n , reanimates images of the Taskerson f a m i l y , h i s childhood f r i e n d s h i p with Geoffrey, and the breaking up of t h i s over an i n c i d e n t with a g i r l  38 on the g o l f course. that was  Inside the c a n t i n a , next to which the same f i l m  playing a year ago i s being shown, Jacques i s presented with  Geoffrey's  volume of plays which reminds him of his reason f o r coming to  Mexico i n the f i r s t  place, h i s i n t e n t i o n to make a f i l m on the Faust  theme, and t h i s causes him to note the Faustian overtones of his f r i e n d ' s life.  The enclosed  l e t t e r impels him f u r t h e r to e l i c i t  love f o r , and h i s a f f a i r s w i t h , Yvonne.  the memory of his  Accompanying h i s f e e l i n g f o r  her, however, there p e r s i s t s a very deep sense of g u i l t because deceiving the Consul was,  i n a way,  the betrayal of something more than f r i e n d s h i p .  Geoffrey i s shown to have exerted a l a s t i n g i n f l u e n c e on Jacques' l i f e , an i n f l u e n c e that extends f u r t h e r than t h e i r b r i e f boyhood encounter would suggest—Jacques' English tweed j a c k e t , his.white t r o u s e r s , h i s s h i r t , his  tennis shoes, the very f a c t that he plays t e n n i s , t e s t i f y to h i s and  Geoffrey's  i d e n t i f i c a t i o n , and imply the kind of Cain-Abel betrayal theme  that i s e x t e n s i v e l y developed with Hugh.  A l l of these f e e l i n g s are, of  course, r e i n f o r c e d by a perusal of Geoffrey's  l e t t e r which bears witness  to the c o l l e c t i v e f a i l u r e s of a l l of the characters and to the f o r c e f u l v a l i d i t y of what becomes one of the major mottos of the novel: "no puede v i v i r s i n amar."  Jacques' presence has a c e r t a i n aimlessness  about i t ; he seems as though suspended i n a complicated that he i s s t i l l  se  t r y i n g to piece together.  web  of events  I t i s as i f the year has  not  passed f o r him, and the impulse needed to i n s t i l l new purpose and d i r e c tion i n his l i f e i s lacking. A sudden, unexpected encounter with Yvonne shocks Hugh i n t o an awareness of the nature of his l i f e to t h i s point.  Rather unconcerned  39 with time, more or less playing with h i s d e s t i n y , he suddenly awakes to f i n d himself " i n the middle of the bloody road of [ h i s ] l i f e " (154), not p a r t i c u l a r l y s a t i s f i e d with h i s accomplishments, and no longer young, no longer a prodigy.  Consequently, he turns inward, but h i s r e t r o s p e c t i v e  survey of h i s l i f e i s , a t once, a b a s i c a l l y honest attempt a t s e l f a n a l y s i s that y e t r e t a i n s a q u a l i t y of r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n , of s e l f - j u s t i f i c a t i o n about i t .  To accept himself he must accept h i s experience a t  sea, h i s i n s e c u r i t y , h i s i n s i n c e r i t y , h i s one-time anti-semitism, h i s seduction of Bolowski's w i f e , and, most importantly, h i s betrayal of the Consul through the adulterous a f f a i r with Yvonne. L i k e Jacques, Hugh i s ambivalent about h i s experience with Yvonne; desire and c o n t r i t i o n combat each other i n h i s memory.  The remorse be-  cause of h i s brother i s deep and powerful, but so i s the remorse over his  own l o s s .  Indeed, almost the only sustained harmony i n any r e l a t i o n -  ship i n the novel i s that evident when Hugh and Yvonne are t o g e t h e r sustained l a r g e l y because Hugh suppresses what he f e e l s .  Their long  r i d e i n Chapter IV, while r e p l e t e with a l l the more s i n i s t e r i m p l i c a tions of the b o o k — t h e Malebolge, the horse branded with the number seven, the r u i n of M a x i m i l l i a n ' s and C a r l o t t a ' s palace, the p o l i t i c a l s i t u a t i o n s i n Mexico and S p a i n — n e v e r t h e l e s s nature.  A mark of t h i s i s the watchfulness  and s o c i a l  remains somewhat i d y l l i c i n and f i d e l i t y  of the dog that  accompanies them and that contrasts so sharply to the pariah dogs that seem to shadow the Consul's every step.  During the r i d e , i n f a c t , Hugh  r e a l i z e s that probably never i n h i s l i f e w i l l he be happier than a t that moment.  40  Hugh's a c t i v i t i e s are i n s p i r e d by the memory of his f r i e n d , Juan C e r i l l o , who  i s a shadowy but ideal f i g u r e i n the novel.  Having worked  in Mexico at the dangerous task of d e l i v e r i n g money f o r the E j i d o , Juan generously  contributed his e f f o r t s to the cause i n Spain.  He becomes a  model that feeds Hugh's i d e a l i s m , his need f o r a c t i o n and commitment. I t i s t h i s need to be i n v o l v e d , f o r i n s t a n c e , that impels Hugh i n t o the arena at Tomalin.  The episode i s symbolic of the r i t u a l of l i f e - - b i r t h ,  s t r u g g l e , death, and rebirth--and i t expresses  Hugh's i n a b i l i t y to be an  observer of l i f e , the imperative of p a r t i c i p a t i o n under which he has placed himself.  The same f o r c e i s apparent during the encounter with  the wounded Indian, i t s e l f a kind of "contemporary r e p e t i t i o n of the Spanish conquest" implied by "the pel ado's smeared conquistador's (253).  hands"  The general p a r a l y s i s which s t r i k e s the other passengers on the  bus, the i n e r t i a produced by f e a r and "prudence" and lack of d i r e c t i o n , the perversion of the Samaritan i d e a l , a l l serve to render the s i t u a t i o n p a i n f u l l y , f r u s t r a t i n g l y unreal f o r Hugh, as though "a more absolute d i s l o c a t i o n of time could not have been created" (284). In a number of ways, s p a t i a l and temporal d i s l o c a t i o n s have chara c t e r i z e d Hugh's l i f e . his  I t i s the sense of not belonging that undermines  experience on board the P h i l o c t e t e s , his ship-mates c o n v i c t i o n that  somehow h i s presence i s a mockery of t h e i r l i v e l i h o o d .  The sea voyage,  i t s e l f , i s d i s t r e s s i n g l y out of j o i n t with his i l l u s i o n s of l i f e on a ship.  He returns to England expecting to be famous as a song w r i t e r only  to f i n d that he has been v i r t u a l l y f o r g o t t e n , his songs p r i n t e d but never distributed.  These and s i m i l a r circumstances  r e s u l t i n the i n s e c u r i t y ,  41 the lack of a real i d e n t i t y that a r e , i n f a c t , the major forces behind Hugh's various commitments; he i s s t i l l  i n search of himself.  The question of i d e n t i t y , however, i s a t work on a number of l e v e l s with regard to Hugh. are a l l aspects of one whole.  In one sense, Yvonne, Hugh, and Geoffrey Together they can be seen as comprising  a t r i n i t y , or a C a b b a l i s t i c t r i a d , or even the composite d e i t y of Hindu b e l i e f — C r e a t o r , Preserver, Destroyer.  In another sense, Hugh i s l i k e  Geoffrey's son, o r , more e x a c t l y , the Consul i s a kind of f a t h e r - f i g u r e whom Hugh has never f o r g i v e n f o r allowing him his freedom, f o r robbing his  gesture of independence of i t s element of r e b e l l i o n .  This aspect of  t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p r e c a l l s the o r i g i n a l short s t o r y , "Under the Volcano," out of which the novel grew and where the Consul i s Yvonne's f a t h e r , Hugh her l o v e r .  The s t o r y emphasizes the e s s e n t i a l u n i t y of these three  f i g u r e s i n Lowry's mind.  On s t i l l another l e v e l , the Consul and Hugh are  alter-egos of each other, and here t h e i r i d e n t i t i e s u l t i m a t e l y merge when Hugh returns the Consul's j a c k e t w i t h , i n the pocket, the telegram that implicates Geoffrey with the communists and leads e v e n t u a l l y to h i s murder a t the hands of the f a s c i s t p o l i c e i n the f i n a l  chapter.  U l t i m a t e l y , Hugh i s destined to repeat Geoffrey's war-time adventure.  At the end of the n o v e l , he has d i r e c t e d his quest f o r s e l f  toward Vera Cruz, the true c r o s s , where, however, he w i l l s a i l , on what is o s t e n s i b l y a peaceful voyage, on a ship that a c t u a l l y c a r r i e s 1,000 tons of T.N.T. f o r the l o y a l i s t s i n Spain.  I t i s a gesture naive,  romantic, eminently a l t r u i s t i c , and f u t i l e to the same degree.  Hugh's  sense of s e l f , and the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of t h i s s e l f , must be generated  42 internally.  Yet, he remains a sympathetic, even admirable  character.  Not only i s he f o r c e f u l and v i t a l , but a l s o , Lowry regards him as a kind of Everyman, sharing the hopes, d e s p a i r s , d e c e i t s , and f r u s t r a t i o n s of o  mankind.  And i n his genuine d e s i r e to be, to do good, he  represents  man's hope f o r the f u t u r e . Whereas Hugh l i v e s almost wholly i n the present, unaware of the past u n t i l his memory i s severely j o l t e d , and concerned with the f u t u r e only as i t becomes a c t u a l , Yvonne l i v e s f o r the f u t u r e alone.  F u l l y con-  scious of the weight of the past, though not always i t s meaning, she remains almost anesthetized to the present, s e n s i t i v e to what i s going on, y e t at a p i t c h of emotional  i n t e n s i t y which permits her to r e a l i z e  only the u n r e a l i t y of the day's events, t h e i r i n c o m p r e h e n s i b i l i t y , and, as a r e s u l t , t h e i r rendering the f u t u r e she so desires more and more unattainable. Yvonne's l i f e seems to her much l i k e the f i l m , Le Destin de Yvonne G r i f f a t o n , which she began watching when i t was h a l f over.  The  heroine of the f i l m wanders through, a c i t y haunted by what are presumably symbols and shadows of the past, but Yvonne remains ignorant of j u s t these f i g u r e s are or how  who  they are connected with the present, since the  appropriate explanations and events are buried i n the beginning of the film.  In the same way,  some meaning . . .  she r e a l i z e s , "so much that conceivably l e n t  to her own destiny was buried i n the d i s t a n t past,  and might f o r a l l she knew repeat i t s e l f i n the f u t u r e " (267).  At the  b u l l r i n g i n Tomalin, Yvonne r e c a l l s meeting Hugh e a r l i e r that morning and almost mistaking him i n his cowboy clothes f o r the leading man  of  43 her a c t i n g career.  Yvonne's l i f e , i n f a c t , shares some of the character-  i s t i c s of Hugh's, and i n the image of h e r s e l f as an actress i n Westerns, she sees the same playing of r o l e s , the same lack of a substantive identity.  Standing i n i r o n i c j u x t a p o s i t i o n , the memory of her p u b l i c i t y  agents work, p a i n t i n g her i n glamorous and heroic c o l o u r s , only underscores the unpleasant r e a l i t y of her l i f e , the u n s a t i s f a c t o r y f a m i l y r e l a t i o n s h i p , the b r i e f movie career begun with promise, her f i r s t unsucc e s s f u l marriage, her dead c h i l d , the period of bewilderment and aimlessness.  A l l t h i s before the Consul.  And a f t e r , the b r i g h t beginning i n  Spain, the a f f a i r s with Hugh and Jacques, both of which, on her p a r t , seem t o have been t r a n s i t o r y encounters stemming from desperation, i n f a t u a t i o n , perhaps simply from c o n t i g u i t y and convenience, the f a i l u r e to have a c h i l d with Geoffrey, and, f i n a l l y , t h e i r divorce.  Yet, i n  s p i t e of a l l , the love she has f o r him, the d e s i r e to r e c l a i m t h e i r l o s t l i v e s together are strong enough to have compelled her r e t u r n , as i f i n t e l e p a t h i c response to the unposted l e t t e r that Jacques f i n d s i n Chapter I: "come back to me, Yvonne, i f only f o r a day . . . "  (46).  While Yvonne recognizes the chaotic nature of her existence the problem i s how to break out of i t , how to emerge from under the burden of the past, how i n her l i f e "to f i n d a meaning, a p a t t e r n , and answer" (270).  She r e a l i z e s that what i s required i s f a i t h i n something, i n any-  t h i n g , and she grasps the v i s i o n of an escape to the north which she and Hugh had e a r l i e r , rather j o c u l a r l y , discussed.  Her dream of a home b u i l t  at the edge of the f o r e s t and the sea provides a sense of p o t e n t i a l i t y , of a t l e a s t the p o s s i b i l i t y of regeneration i n the novel.  The north,  44 i t s e l f , i s t r a d i t i o n a l l y i d e n t i f i e d as the proper realm of the s o u l , and, added to t h i s , i s the f u n c t i o n of the sea as a r e s t o r a t i v e f o r c e .  Indeed,  Yvonne comes to represent these elements i n the course of the book's development.  The r e f r e s h i n g l i f t she receives from bathing and swimming  t e s t i f i e s to her a s s o c i a t i o n with the l i f e - g i v i n g powers of water; as an amateur a s t r o l o g e r she i s placed i n conjunction with the s t a r s and with the c r e a t i v e force of the heavens i n general: "Yvonne appeared clothed e n t i r e l y i n s u n l i g h t " (78).  On the l i t e r a l  l e v e l , Yvonne's dream appears  almost too i d y l l i c , almost u n r e a l , but on a symbolic l e v e l , Yvonne's future would amount to a s p i r i t u a l r e b i r t h , an ascendancy from both the mundane and i n f e r n a l tortures that beset them a l l to a plane of physical and mental harmony.  Her house, with i t s p i e r i n t o the ocean, i s repre-  s e n t a t i v e of the f u t u r e , b u i l t on p i l e s which are the past: "They would b u i l d t h i s p i e r themselves when the t i d e was out, s i n k i n g the posts by one down the steep s l a n t i n g beach.  one  Post by post they'd b u i l d i t  u n t i l one day they could dive from the end i n t o the sea" (271).  Yvonne's  v i s i o n i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by an i n t e g r a t i o n and wholeness symbolized the marriage, the l o v e , the concord of man  by  and nature, and monitored by  the c y c l i c a l regenerative flow of the sea upon which play "the millwheel r e f l e c t i o n s of s u n l i g h t on water" (271). Having conceived a f u t u r e , Yvonne's task i s to convince  Geoffrey  of i t s p r a c t i c a b i l i t y and i t s appeal, but t h i s presupposes his d e s i r e to be saved.  A c t u a l l y , as Hugh suggests, h i s very s t r e n g t h , i n d i c a t e d by a  physical c o n d i t i o n that b e l i e s his inner weakness and that enables him to endure so much, prevents him from accepting the a i d of others.  And he i s  45  almost incapable of acting p o s i t i v e l y f o r himself or even of communic a t i n g ; o f t e n , when he intends to act or speak, and even f e e l s that he has done so, he has i n f a c t performed  nothing.  One of the reasons f o r  t h i s i s that the Consul functions i n a separate dimension of r e a l i t y than the o t h e r s — a r e a l i t y both l a r g e r and less d i s t i n c t than t h e i r s , fostered by his alcoholism and h i s mystical bent, and of which h a l l u c i n a t i o n , d i s t o r t i o n , and d i s l o c a t i o n s of time and space are r e q u i s i t e properties. Much of the past that embroils Geoffrey causes him to see himself as both the innocent v i c t i m and the culpable agent of d e s t r u c t i v e f o r c e s . A sense of g u i l t plagues h i s conscience because of his war experience on the Samaritan, even though his actual r o l e i s never made c l e a r , but, at the same time, he values the i n c i d e n t s i n c e , when charges were l a i d against the crew, he, l i k e Lord Jim, was the only member to answer them and was not only exonerated, but a l s o , decorated f o r h i s a c t i o n .  Simi-  l a r l y , a measure of the i s o l a t i o n he undergoes, that of an ex-consul of a country that no longer enjoys the diplomatic favors of his host country, i s only p a r t l y his r e s p o n s i b i l i t y .  In a d d i t i o n , he i s f u l l y  cognisant of Yvonne's behavior, of her a f f a i r s with Hugh and  Jacques,  and he f e e l s himself betrayed; y e t , he a l s o knows himself to be at f a u l t f o r having driven her to them i n the f i r s t place. dual v i s i o n that renders his torment more acute.  I t i s t h i s kind of When he confronts the  sign i n his garden, f o r example, he misreads a s e c t i o n of i t as "Why i t yours?"  is  The i m p l i c a t i o n i s that man's p o s i t i o n i n the garden i s gra-  t u i t o u s , he has been granted i t not out of r i g h t or even m e r i t , though  46  i t i s only through merit that he r e t a i n s i t . way,  Geoffrey  knows t h i s .  he i s a kind of Adam, but u n l i k e the archetype, he i s an Adam with  memory, with a h i s t o r y of f a i l u r e that must be accounted f o r . his  In a  But while  i n s i g h t i s abnormally penetrating, he i s unable to c a p i t a l i z e on i t ,  he "perceives the dim o u t l i n e of the secret path but has no means by which to u n i f y the f r a c t u r e d themes of his l i f e : the c o n f l i c t s between love and death, c r e a t i v e and d e s t r u c t i v e power, and, above a l l , the g d u a l i t y inherent i n the mystical wine." The Consul does not simply f i n d himself i n a metaphorical  h e l l of  drunkenness, but r a t h e r , i n or headed f o r a l i t e r a l h e l l as a r e s u l t of his  i n t e r e s t i n , and his i d e n t i f i c a t i o n w i t h , the mysteries  Cabbala.  of the  The extent of his involvement i n occultism i s never quite c l e a r  to e i t h e r Hugh or Yvonne, though they are aware of his c o l l e c t i o n of alchemical and hermetic l i t e r a t u r e , as well as his i n t e n t i o n of w r i t i n g a book on secret knowledge. alcohol.  C e n t r a l , of course, to h i s i n t e r e s t i s  For the C a b b a l i s t , wine embodies the hidden s p i r i t u a l  energies  underlying a l l t h i n g s , a secret knowledge that has never been revealed to man.  I t s b e n e f i c i a l nature i s shown when Geoffrey saves a c h i l d ' s  l i f e by rubbing  i t s stomach with t e q u i l a . But he has also misused the  wine and betrayed his secret mission; his e r r o r i s Faust's; i n plumbing the mysteries  of h e l l he has been trapped by them.  Geoffrey's  descent has r e s u l t e d i n a d i f f u s i o n of his i d e n t i t y .  The self-knowledge that he requires to r e i n t e g r a t e the fragments of h i s p e r s o n a l i t y demands a reordering of his past i n which the roots of h i s i d e n t i t y l i e , but "how  indeed could he hope to f i n d himself to begin  47 again when, somewhere, perhaps, i n one of those l o s t or broken b o t t l e s , i n one of those g l a s s e s , l a y , f o r ever, the s o l i t a r y clue to h i s i d e n t i t y ? " (294).  R e c a l l i n g Jacques' p i c t u r e , Los Borrachones, i n  Chapter X I I , Geoffrey experiences a kind of epiphany during which he r e a l i z e s t h a t the s a i n t l y i n d i v i d u a l s represented i n the p a i n t i n g achieve an i n c r e a s i n g l y sharper d e f i n i t i o n of themselves, w h i l e those among whom he belongs destroy t h e i r own separate r e a l i t y : "those people l i k e s p i r i t s appearing to grow more f r e e , more separate, t h e i r d i s t i n c t i v e noble faces more d i s t i n c t i v e , more noble the higher they ascended i n t o the l i g h t ; those f l o r i d people resembling huddled f i e n d s , becoming more l i k e each other, more joined together, more as one f i e n d , the f a r t h e r down they hurled i n t o the darkness" (361).  From Chapter VII to the end of  the n o v e l , Geoffrey's process of d i s i n t e g r a t i o n i s a rapid one.  It is  depicted most v i v i d l y , perhaps, when he f i n d s himself h u r l i n g madly backwards on "the i n f e r n a l machine."  The scene represents a metaphorical  death of s e l f where a l l of h i s belongings, a l l aspects of h i s ego are s t r i p p e d away from him: "Everything was f a l l i n g out of h i s pockets, was being wrested from him, torn away, a fresh a r t i c l e s a t each w h i r l i n g , s i c k e n i n g , plunging, r e p e a t i n g , unspeakable c i r c u i t , h i s note-case, p i p e , keys, h i s dark glasses he had taken o f f , h i s small change he d i d not have time to imagine being pounced on by the c h i l d r e n a f t e r a l l , he was being emptied out, returned empty, h i s s t i c k , h i s passport"  (225-226).  With the loss of the l a s t item, the passport, he i s unable to confirm his i d e n t i t y e i t h e r to himself or to the "phantoms of himself" that surround him i n the F a r o l i t o . that of W i l l i a m Blackstone.  In the end, the only r e a l i t y he can grasp i s  48 Having previously stated that of the types of alcohol he consumed mescal alone would f i n i s h him, Geoffrey, at the Salon O f e l i a , orders mescal;  and "from the moment of the f i r s t s i p . . . [he] continues i n a  visionary state.  Because there are no boundaries of time and space i n  t h i s superconsciousness . . . [he] i s aware of a l l on many p l a n e s . " ^  things a t a l l  times  On one dimension, he sees h i s own existence as coex-  tensive with that of the world, h i s own death synonymous with i t s destruction.  In the bathroom sequence of Chapter V, foreshadowing a s i m i l a r  i n c i d e n t i n Chapter X, he p i c t u r e s h i s soul as a town, ravaged, crumbling, with "the l i g h t now on, now o f f . . . the whole town plunged i n t o darkness, where communication  i s l o s t , motion mere o b s t r u c t i o n , bombs threaten,  ideas stampede" (149).  As h i s soul s h a t t e r s , so does the universe:  Yet who would ever have believed that some obscure man, s i t t i n g a t the centre of the world i n a bathroom, say, t h i n k i n g s o l i t a r y miserable thoughts, was authoring t h e i r doom, that even while he was t h i n k i n g , i t was as i f behind the scenes c e r t a i n s t r i n g s were being p u l l e d , and whole continents burst i n t o flame, and calamity moved nearer . . . Or perhaps i t was not a man a t a l l but a c h i l d , a l i t t l e c h i l d , innocent as that other Geoffrey had been, who s a t as i f up i n an organ l o f t somewhere p l a y i n g , p u l l i n g out a l l the stops a t random, and kingdoms divided and f e l l , and abominations dropped from the sky. (149-150) In a way, Geoffrey considers himself r e s p o n s i b l e , not only f o r foreseeing the d i s a s t e r , but somehow personally involved on t h i s plane of r e a l i t y , somehow d i r e c t i n g i t .  At the same time, however, he operates on other  dimensions as w e l l ; as he s i t s on the stone t o i l e t of the Salon O f e l i a , for  i n s t a n c e , he a l s o l i v e s the h i s t o r y of T l a x c a l a through the t r a v e l  brochure, and c o n t r i b u t e s to the conversation between Hugh and Yvonne taking place i n the next room.  I t i s t h i s kind of divided a t t e n t i o n and  49  divided l o y a l t i e s to d i f f e r e n t r e a l i t i e s on Geoffrey's part that f r u s t r a t e s Yvonne's salvage operations, and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p , i n the Salon O f e l i a , d e t e r i o r a t e s to i t s lowest p o i n t , reaching here the opposite extreme from what i t was  i n the General i f e Gardens i n Granada.  Geoffrey, i n moments of r e l a t i v e calm, has enjoyed v i s i o n s of a f u t u r e , an imagined paradise so l i k e Yvonne's as to suggest some kind of thought t r a n s f e r e n c e — t h e same shack i n the north at the edge of the f o r e s t , the same conjunction of t h e i r l i f e , the s t a r s , and the sea i n a symbol of harmony and regeneration.  But because the past l i m i t s the  f u t u r e , Geoffrey's v i s i o n remains u n r e a l i z a b l e . In Jacques' tower, Geoffrey i s o f f e r e d the choice between l i f e , represented by a t r i p to Guanajuato with Dr. V i g i l , and death, represented by the F a r o l i t o i n P a r i a n , and he i n s i s t s on going to Tomalin, rather than accompanying Dr. V i g i l , from where he proceeds more or less d i r e c t l y to the F a r o l i t o . His i n a b i l i t y to choose otherwise, his almost t o t a l commitment to dest r u c t i o n , i s demonstrated during his two attempts at love-making i n the novel.  In Chapter I I I , with Yvonne, he i s impotent, incapable of making  a pact with l i f e , able to think only of the cantina which would be opening at t h i s hour.  In a p a r a l l e l s i t u a t i o n i n Chapter X I I , however,  Geoffrey i s able to consummate his attempt with the whore, Maria, and the f i l t h of the F a r o l i t o , the threat of veneral d i s e a s e , carry the overtone of death: "How (374).  a l i k e are the groans of love to those of the dying"  Only the death of s e l f through the true act of unselfishness  which i s love can render s a l v a t i o n p o s s i b l e . But the Consul made his d e c i s i o n i n the past, and his d e c l a r a t i o n i n the Salon O f e l i a , "I choose  50 . . . H e l l " (316), i s simply facing the i n e v i t a b l e consequences of that choice. Lowry regulates the movement of his novel through a confluence of language and a c t i o n both integrated and purposeful.  As Robert Heilman  describes i t , h i s "whole complex of image and symbol i s such as to d i r e c t a d i s s o l v i n g order, i n search of a c r e a t i v e a f f i r m a t i o n , toward that union of the personal and the u n i v e r s a l which i s the r e l i g i o u s . " ^ Dominating t h i s imagery i s , of course, the wheel.  In one sense, already  mentioned b r i e f l y , the wheel i s time, turning backwards i n t o memory. I t s twelve spokes stand f o r the twelve hours covered by the a c t i o n of the novel, from Yvonne's a r r i v a l a t seven i n the morning to Geoffrey's death at seven that evening.  They a l s o i n f e r the twelve months of the year,  the signs of the zodiac, or the twelve hours of Adam from his c r e a t i o n 12 to his expulsion from the garden.  Such an extension e v e n t u a l l y i n c o r -  porates a l l t i m e — e t e r n i t y . Lowry has a l s o i d e n t i f i e d the symbol as Buddha's Wheel of Law, 13 eternal recurrence, and a movie r e e l .  The n a r r a t i v e i s , i t s e l f ,  c u l a r , r e t u r n i n g a t the end of the novel to the beginning.  cir-  There i s a  c e r t a i n symmetry involved i n t h i s , suggested by the r e p e t i t i o n of complementary  events, such as the love-making  and bathroom scenes c i t e d  above, or Yvonne's search f o r Geoffrey through the bars i n Chapter XI which mirrors h i s search f o r her through the restaurants along the V i a Dolorosa i n Mexico C i t y i n 1936. As the Wheel of Law, the image combines the idea of the c y c l i c a l basis of the universe with the e t h i c a l considerations appropriate to i n d i v i d u a l e x i s t e n c e ; thus the spokes represent the  51 twelve p r a c t i c a l precepts f o r the a b o l i t i o n of s e l f i s h n e s s and s u f f e r i n g during an i n d i v i d u a l ' s h i s t o r i c a l  life.  F i n a l l y , as Lowry c l a i m s , the wheel can be s u c c e s s f u l l y i n t e r preted as a motion-picture r e e l .  Indeed, the f i l m motif pervades the  novel, and, i n f a c t , everything a f t e r Chapter I could be seen as a f i l m made by Jacques of h i s experiences. was  ...  Lowry admits that "the idea . . .  to t r y and give a v i v i d impression of a f i l m a c t u a l l y i n pro-  gress, a f i l m that one had a c t u a l l y seen, and at the same time a f i l m t h a t , since i t had not been made, l e f t every scope f o r . . .  a director's  14 imagination to work i n . "  As i s usual with Lowry's images, nothing i s  imposed here, a l l i s organic, inherent i n the t o t a l conception.  Jacques  is a f i l m maker, Yvonne a former a c t r e s s , and the advertisements  f o r Las  Manos de Orlac weave throughout the a c t i o n . appropriate.  The l a t t e r i s e s p e c i a l l y  A s t o r y of a p i a n i s t whose hands have been destroyed  and  replaced with those of a murderer, i t presents an image of Jungian  man  in whom merge l i f e and death, c r e a t i v i t y and d e s t r u c t i o n .  In a d d i t i o n ,  i t i s a remake of the o r i g i n a l f i l m , replaying i n 1938 as i t was on the Day of the Dead, 1937.  The i m p l i c a t i o n i s of a r e p e t i t i o n with no pro-  g r e s s i o n , l i k e the s e r i e s of p i c t u r e s i n El Bosque.  This kind of  redundance gives both a sense of i n e v i t a b i l i t y to the a c t i o n of the novel, as well as a sense of recurrence underlying the rhythm of events. Paul Tiessen has noted the f e r t i l i t y of the use of the cinema as a source of both method and metaphor: That the present cannot excape the past, that the impotence of man's present merges with the g u i l t of his past, i s s y m b o l i c a l l y best  52 expressed i n a cinematic s t y l e where the c i r c u l a r i t y of the form, i m i t a t i n g the c i r c u l a r motion of the r e e l , can manipulate the overlapping and merging of t i m e J 5 While t h i s occurs throughout the novel, a l l times being simultaneously a c t i v e , i t appears most c l e a r l y i n the overlapping of the l a s t two chapters when Yvonne i s k i l l e d , i n Chapter X I , by the d e s t r u c t i v e powers represented by the horse which the Consul unleashes i n Chapter X I I . This type of displacement i n time i s , of course, appropriate to a reader who i s an observer, or Lowry's " d i r e c t o r , " at a f u r t h e r remove than i s the actor i n the scene, and whose view includes the other's future i n i t s wider v i s i o n .  Tiessen also adds a negative q u a l i f i c a t i o n of f i l m - - i t i s  i l l u s i o n , i t s scenes a travesty of l i f e , s t a t i c and fragmented i n frames. Such i s the c o n d i t i o n of man i n the novel, imprisoned i n separate compartments from which he cannot escape, caught i n the g r i p of the mechan1 fi  ized monster that he has s e t i n motion. Like the f i l m , Lowry's other major images and devices evolve n a t u r a l l y from the n a r r a t i v e , but, as i s also common i n Lowry's work, many of h i s images convey ambivalent meanings.  The ship metaphor of l i f e  as a voyage, f o r example, has i t s o r i g i n i n the experiences of a l l the major characters; i t s precise meaning, however, varies i n each case.  In  a study of Lowry's sea imagery, Bernadette Wild has noted i t s increasing complexity from Ultramarine which follows the t r a d i t i o n s of Conrad, A i k e n , M e l v i l l e and G r i e g , where ship and sea form a microcosm of s o c i e t y and the  universe, to Under the Volcano where the metaphor reveals t h i s q u a l i t y  of ambivalence.  For Yvonne, any a s s o c i a t i o n with water, i n c l u d i n g s a i l i n g  on i t , i s an enlivening event; f o r Hugh, i t i s a type of i n i t i a t i o n  ritual,  53 an i d e n t i t y quest which, having been undergone u n s u c c e s s f u l l y , remains incomplete and must be repeated from Vera Cruz.  For Geoffrey, on the  other hand, i t represents d e c e i t and betrayal and death. Yvonne and Hugh r e f r e s h themselves  Thus, while  a f t e r the b u l l ceremony, Geoffrey  finds the natural w a t e r f a l l only "suggestive of some u l t i m a t e organized sweat" (286). A s i m i l a r ambivalence  inheres i n the image of f i r e .  In one sense,  f i r e stands f o r c r e a t i v e power, a s p i r i t u a l f o r c e emanating from the heavens.  I t i s a l s o , however, an instrument of d e s t r u c t i o n . In t h i s  r o l e , i t goes hand-in-hand with the idea of e t e r n a l recurrence, of the continual c r e a t i o n and d e s t r u c t i o n of the universe.  F i r e i s a purgative  agent, e l i m i n a t i n g man's record of f r u s t r a t i o n and f a i l u r e , and preparing the way f o r r e b i r t h .  And herein l i e s the fate of the future which Yvonne  and Geoffrey have conceived.  C l i f f o r d Leech has demonstrated that "the 1g  book i n s i s t s on a m u l t i p l i c i t y of f u t u r e s " ;  the imagined f u t u r e of a  home i n the north, the actual shape which the future eventually assumes, and the p o s s i b i l i t y of some kind of f u t u r e l i f e a f t e r death are a l l p o t e n t i a l l y r e a l , a l l equally a part of Geoffrey's and Yvonne's experience. Because of the f a i l u r e to r e c o n c i l e t h e i r pasts, t h e i r v i s i o n s remain una t t a i n a b l e , the purge necessary: "The house was on f i r e . . . everything was burning, the dream was burning, the house was burning . . . the tree was burning . . . the w a l l s with t h e i r r e f l e c t i o n s of s u n l i g h t on water were burning . . . the garden was burning, the porch where they s a t on spring mornings was burning . . . Geoffrey's o l d c h a i r was burning, h i s desk, and now his book, h i s book was burning, the pages were burning, burning, burning" (336).  54 From the s t a r t , the characters resembled the two old Indians emerging from the tavern, Todos Contentos y Yo Tambien, the one old and lame, trembling under the weight of the s t i l l older one he c a r r i e d on his  back.  While Hugh, Yvonne, and Geoffrey j o i n Mexico i n laughing  away t h e i r t r a g i c h i s t o r y on the f e s t i v a l of the Day of the Dead, i t i s the burden of the past that defines them; the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of f o r g e t t i n g t h i s past f o r more than a b r i e f i n t e r v a l c o n s t i t u t e s t h e i r torment, poisoning t h e i r every moment.  Hugh, e a r l y i n the novel, perceives  c l e a r l y the Damocles sword under which a l l t h e i r l i v e s r e s t : How marvellous t h i s was, or rather C h r i s t , how he wanted to be deceived about i t , as must have Judas, he thought . . . i f ever Judas had a horse, or borrowed, s t o l e one more l i k e l y , a f t e r that Madrugada of a l l Madrugadas, r e g r e t t i n g then that he had given the t h i r t y pieces of s i l v e r back . . . when now he probably wanted a d r i n k , t h i r t y drinks . . . and perhaps even so he had managed a few on c r e d i t , smelling the good smells of leather and sweat, l i s t e n i n g to the pleasant clopping of the horses' hooves and t h i n k i n g , how joyous a l l t h i s could be, r i d i n g on l i k e t h i s under the d a z z l i n g sky of Jerusalem—and f o r g e t t i n g f o r an i n s t a n t , so that i t r e a l l y was joyous—how splendid i t a l l might be had I not betrayed that man l a s t n i g h t , even though I know p e r f e c t l y w e l l I was going t o , how good indeed, i f only i t were not so a b s o l u t e l y necessary to go out and hang oneself. (115) Constantly, the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of t h i s r e s u l t i s enforced.  Yet, because  d e s t r u c t i o n i s , i t s e l f , simply a stage of a c y c l e , the f i n a l i m p l i c a t i o n of the novel i s a f f i r m a t o r y . While on one l e v e l Under the Volcano i s simply a manifestation of Lowry's a r t i s t i c - i m p u l s e to c r e a t e , on another l e v e l i t i s Lowry's attempt at harrowing his own personal h e l l .  He separates his experiences  and  analyzes each fragment i n a search f o r i t s t o t a l s i g n i f i c a n c e , i t s r e l a t i o n to the whole which i s his l i f e .  As h i s e n t i r e c r e a t i v e l i f e  was  55  devoted to such a task, i t i s natural that he should discard nothing that had happened to him.  Autobiographical elements are evident i n the  Consul's a l c o h o l i s m , his i n t e r e s t i n magic, his marriage problems, h i s accusation of being a communist spy, h i s northern, B r i t i s h Columbian paradise.  They also emerge i n much of Hugh's character, and a great  deal of Dana H i l l i o t from Ultramarine, i t s e l f an autobiographical novel, contributes to Hugh's p o r t r a i t .  Even Lowry's i n t e r e s t i n and involvement  with Hollywood appears i n the f i l m imagery.  The Mexican adventures,  the  cantinas and mescals, are often precise accounts of Lowry's experiences. Such c o r r e l a t i o n s could be repeated  indefinitely.  But i t i s the  synthesis of these elements, t h e i r i n t e g r a t i o n i n t o an organic whole with the order and consistency of a r t that enable both Lowry and reader to know and understand them, to remove the past from the sion of time, to exorcise memory.  the progres-  FOOTNOTES  Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano (New York, 1947), p. 47. A l l subsequent references to t h i s text throughout the chapter w i l l be given internally. 2 Selected L e t t e r s , p. 67. D a v i d Markson, "Myth i n Under the Volcano," PrS, 37 (1963), 339-346. 4 Anthony K i l g a l l i n , "Faust and Under the Volcano," CanL, 26 (Autumn 1965), 54. 5 E p s t e i n , p. 116. 3  H i l d a L. Thomas, "Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano: An Interpret a t i o n , " unpubl. d i s s . B r i t i s h Columbia, 1965, p. 29. ^ E p s t e i n , p. 150. ^Selected L e t t e r s , p. 75. g E p s t e i n , p. 74. I b i d . , p. 171. ^ R o b e r t B. Heilman, "The Possessed A r t i s t and the A i l i n g Soul," CanL, 8 (Spring 1961), 15-16. 12 E p s t e i n , p. 27 f n . 13 1 0  Selected L e t t e r s , p. 71. I b i d . , p. 203. P a u l G. Tiessen, "Malcolm Lowry and the Cinema," CanL, 44 (Spring 1970), 45. 1 4  1 5  1 6  I b i d . , p. 47.  57 Bernadette Wild, "Malcolm Lowry: A Study of the Sea Metaphor i n Under the Volcano," UWR, 4 ( F a l l 1968), 46. C l i f f o r d Leech, "The Shaping of Time: Nostromo and Under the Volcano," i n Imagined Worlds: Essays on Some English Novels and N o v e l i s t s i n Honor of John Butt, ed. Maynard Mack and Ian Gregor (London, 1968), p. 338.  CHAPTER IV DARK AS THE GRAVE WHEREIN MY FRIEND IS LAID In Dark as the Grave, Lowry has taken what i s i m p l i c i t i n Under the Volcano and made i t the theme.  Here, the autobiographical elements  are l e s s camouflaged, the sense of a e s t h e t i c detachment not as apparent, the f i c t i y e . w o r l d l e s s a s e l f - c o n t a i n e d e n t i t y .  S i m i l a r l y , the surface  of Dark as the Grave i s less opaque than that of i t s predecessor, the machinery more v i s i b l e .  The substance of the story comes from the  Lowrys' own t r i p to Mexico i n 1945, as Sigbj0rn's notebook i n the novel o u t l i n e s : "For a . . . short novel begin with 1936-37-38 the material i n Mexican notebook, which i s a l l the protagonist knows about Mexico e t c . , but now a f t e r w r i t i n g book [The V a l l e y of the Shadow of Death, i . e . , Under the Volcano] (unpublished) about Mexico, he i s going back there a t the end of 1945. . . . Subplot should again be the drink c o n f l i c t . " ^  On  t h i s base, the i n t e r r e l a t e d themes of the tyranny of the past and the e f f i c a c y of subduing i t through w r i t i n g are erected. As with Under the Volcano, external a c t i o n and c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n are minimized.  Lowry repeatedly de-emphasized the r o l e of character  portrayal i n h i s f i c t i o n .  What he i s a f t e r i n Dark as the Grave, as f a r  as character i s concerned, i s not the d e p i c t i o n of f u l l y drawn, rounded p e r s o n a l i t i e s , but something, to him, more i n t e r e s t i n g , more v a l u a b l e ; i t i s "no less than the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of a creator with h i s c r e a t i o n P i r a n d e l l o i n reverse, o r , S i x authors i n search of h i s characters; or 2 otherwise s t a t e d , Every Man h i s own Laocoon."  Admittedly, Dark as the  Grave d i s p l a y s l i t t l e of the density of the e a r l i e r novel, but, perhaps,  59  because of Lowry's unusual w r i t i n g habits and l i t e r a r y i n t e n t i o n s , i t i s not wholly u n j u s t i f i a b l e to consider the book i n terms of the projected sequence of novels i n The Voyage That Never Ends.  What seems undeveloped  at i t s present stage may very well have reached f r u i t i o n i n the whole. Another relevant consideration f o r any c r i t i c a l evaluation of the novel i s that i t i s u n f i n i s h e d .  As Douglas Day elaborates i n the Preface, much  more was to have been made of Stanford's  r o l e , of the dream of the w i f e 3  s l a y e r , of the P a r s i f a l and T r i s t a n m o t i f s , among others. between clock time, which does not f i g u r e so prominently  The c o n f l i c t i n t h i s novel,  and r a c i a l or mythic time i s presumably another aspect that would have received considerable a t t e n t i o n had the novel come to completion i n Lowry's hands.  F i n a l l y , however, a book must be judged as i t stands and  in s p i t e of the above q u a l i f i c a t i o n s , Dark as the Grave i s s t i l l  meri-  torious as the f i c t i v e treatment of an a e s t h e t i c . Lowry's protagonist i s "Ortega's f e l l o w , making up his l i f e as he 4  goes along and t r y i n g to f i n d his vocation." destiny to t h i s point threatens p o t e n t i a l i t y of his f u t u r e .  The problem i s that h i s  to engulf him, thereby n u l l i f y i n g the  Haunting the memory of his e a r l i e r t r i p to  Mexico are the e f f e c t s of the physical and s p i r i t u a l s u f f e r i n g he underwent, h i s u n s a t i s f a c t o r y r e l a t i o n s h i p with his f i r s t w i f e , the f a i l u r e to get his novel published, and his overwhelming, all-encompassing f e a r s — f e a r of heights, fear of discovery, fear of disease, fear of l o s i n g h i s second w i f e , Primrose, fear of himself.  He i s n a t u r a l l y r e l u c -  tant to return to the scene of so much danger and f r u s t r a t i o n , a hesitancy that stems, i n p a r t , from a concern that not only i s he somehow tempting  60 f a t e by r e t u r n i n g , and placing himself i n jeopardy, but a l s o , that he i s not quite sure that he doesn't want to be so placed; the only fear that does not torment him i s the f e a r of death.  Indeed, during t h e i r f i r s t  night i n Mexico, Sigbj0rn begins to sense "the real p o s i t i v e psychic, i f obscure, danger i n which he stood and to which he had d e l i b e r a t e l y , and even d e l i g h t e d l y , brought himself . . . f o r one thing by f a r the most potent ghost he had to encounter was himself, and he had very considerable doubts as to whether i t wanted to be l a i d a t a l l " (93). Sigbj0rn i s aware, however, o f the r e s t o r a t i v e , c a t h a r t i c e f f e c t of w r i t i n g , o f t r a n s c r i b i n g his h i s t o r y i n a way that allows him to control i t rather than v i c e versa.  In the f i r s t p l a c e , he faces the  need "to j u s t i f y himself" to himself. of having once "transcended  At the same time, he i s conscious  his own experience  . . . b y w r i t i n g about  i t . . . turned i t to account, made i t work" (16). i s twofold.  Not only i s l i f e thus transformed  The r e s u l t however  i n t o a r t , but he a l s o  f i n d s that a r t , i t s e l f , becomes a reagent, a f f e c t i n g and challenging the l i f e that gave i t form: "An organic work of a r t , having been conceived, must grow i n the creator's mind, or proceed to p e r i s h " (154).  Accordingly,  the events i n Dark as the Grave centre around those i n Under the Volcano. Within the n o v e l , Sigbj0rn, having w r i t t e n The V a l l e y of the Shadow of Death, f e e l s himself i d e n t i f y i n g with h i s c r e a t i o n , so much so, i n f a c t , as to become a kind o f alter-ego o f the Consul.  For Lowry, such a s i t u a -  t i o n r a i s e d the i n e v i t a b l e questions of coincidence and premonition.  Was  the e a r l i e r novel a n t i c i p a t o r y ? Or what i s the p r i n c i p l e behind the i n c r e d i b l e coincidences which plagued his return?  He regarded Dark as the  61 Grave as "a s o r t of Under Under the Volcano or f a n t a s i a of the Law of 5  Series.'  And, indeed, i t i s Dunne's s e r i a l universe that patterns the  novel. A number of time dimensions are operative i n the book.  The  present of the novel, the n a r r a t i v e account of the Wildernesses  1  plane  t r i p to Mexico and t h e i r experiences w h i l e there, can be seen as t i m e . 3  Time^, then, would comprise Sigbj0rn's e a r l i e r v i s i t , i n c l u d i n g among his a c t i v i t i e s at that time the composition of The V a l l e y .  Time-] would,  consequently, i n v o l v e the actual episodes of his novel, the actions which the characters undertake w i t h i n the f i c t i v e world Sigbj0rn has created. Each of these "times" i s one dimension removed from the next and enjoys a " f i e l d of p r e s e n t a t i o n " correspondingly l a r g e r .  A l s o , each dimension  contains w i t h i n i t s e l f i t s own, l i m i t e d , past, present, and f u t u r e . The characters i n The V a l l e y , Geoffrey, Yvonne, and Hugh, play out t h e i r fates i n the l i g h t of t h e i r h i s t o r i e s of b e t r a y a l , f a i l u r e , and t h e i r never to be r e a l i z e d f u t u r e .  drunkenness,  But containing a l l t h i s ,  though not l i m i t e d by i t , i s Sigbj0rn, the w r i t e r .  His dimension,  tin^,  embraces, among other events, h i s f i r s t experience i n Mexico from which he has s e l e c t e d r e p r e s e n t a t i v e episodes f o r h i s novel.  Obviously, he i s  a "higher order observer" than any of his created f i g u r e s and has cons i d e r a b l e powers of i n t e r v e n t i o n i n t h e i r l i v e s ; he can compel or impede t h e i r f u t u r e a c t i o n s , or cause the r e p e t i t i o n of previous ones. time  3  In the  dimension, however, Sigbj0rn enjoys a v i s i o n which spans a l l the  events of h i s f i r s t Mexican adventure and a l l which has happened s i n c e , i n c l u d i n g the r e t u r n t r i p .  Thus, he can reexperience any element from  62 e i t h e r of the two l e s s e r dimensions as he p a r t i c i p a t e s i n those of h i s own.  In f a c t , he can do more than t h i s .  Because he, h i m s e l f , i s not  the end of the s e r i e s , h i s own view i s also contained i n a l a r g e r one i n which h i s f u t u r e i s a c t i v e and can be p a r t i a l l y a n t i c i p a t e d by him. While r e f l e c t i n g over changes he i s contemplating i n The V a l l e y , Sigbj0rn senses that "they were but a prelude to the work that was being created now, or created by another through him by v i r t u e of h i s r e t u r n : since a t a l l events i t was not a horoscope--or was i t ? " (58-59).  And l a t e r , he  wakes from a dream with the h o r r i b l e thought that "he might have been p r e f e e l i n g . . . the f u t u r e " (115). There i s a c e r t a i n s i m i l a r i t y between Dark as the Grave i n t h i s respect and one of the works of Lowry's l i t e r a r y mentor, Conrad Aiken. In Blue Voyage, Demarest's meeting with Cynthia  on board the ship  r e c a l l s h i s p a s t , and, at the same time, the encounter possesses an element of f u t u r i t y about i t , of the p o s s i b i l i t y of a subsequent ship.  relation-  Indeed, one f i n d s numerous p a r a l l e l s between these two novels;  the emphasis on memory and reminiscence, the use of Eastern mythology, the P a r s i f a l m o t i f , the idea of the quest f o r s e l f , are a l l common to both.  I t i s the l a s t concern that i s most relevant here.  Because of the  complexity of s e l f , because of the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of ever capturing the t o t a l i t y of an i n d i v i d u a l , Aiken defines human r e a l i t y i n these terms: g "We are only what we . . . remember and foresee."  Lowry goes much  f u r t h e r , however, and h i s v i s i o n i s more ominous, more mysterious a t l e a s t , and t h i s i s what causes Sigbj0rn to f e e l that he i s being w r i t t e n , that he i s , a t once, both P i r a n d e l l i a n author and P i r a n d e l l i a n character.  63 Even Lowry does not c o n s t i t u t e the l i m i t i n g time-dimension his novel.  for  Rather, he occupies merely the time^ f i e l d of the s e r i e s ,  the f i e l d which contains the composition of Dark as the Grave.  Of course,  Lowry cannot p r o j e c t the s e r i e s to the absolute dimension, Time, where one would f i n d Dunne's " s u p e r l a t i v e general observer"; i t s u f f i c e s that SigbjjzSrn i s conscious of being somehow manipulated.  In an  analogy  reminiscent of the image of the locks i n "Through the Panama," Sigbj0rn regards his t o t a l experiences as a " f a n t a s t i c tower of music; three o r a t o r i o s , on the f i r s t day one being performed, on the second the second, and on the t h i r d , the t h i r d , and on the f o u r t h evening, a l l three being performed at once with d i f f e r e n t conductors, under the d i r e c t i o n of yet another conductor, the composer himself" (180). t h i s way,  the Wildernesses  1  Seen i n  t r i p to Mexico " i s the book," and w r i t i n g i t ,  as Sigbj0rn r e a l i z e s , i s "the daemon": His notions of a r t , w h i l e sometimes perhaps not u n l i k e ours, are simply wider . . . I can f e e l him . . . wanting us to do good, to be good. The trouble i s . . . we are l i a b l e to get out of hand by taking the b i t of his sentences i n our own teeth. . . . That, indeed, i s his p r i n c i p a l headache, because having given us l i f e of a s o r t , he has also given us a w i l l . . . . We might i n s i s t on a t r a g i c ending and get i t , when what he wants i s a happy one. I t i s at such moments that he burns our house down or destroys three quarters of our l i f e work, j u s t to remind us that he i s on. the job. Does that s a t i s f y your t r a g i c i n s t i n c t s , he seems to be s a y i n g , now then l e t us see what you do. Perhaps y o u ' l l think that that's the end. But with me i t i s only a beginning. (86) The u l t i m a t e penalty f o r transgressing against t h i s highest observer c a r r i e s the same t e r r o r that confronts the Consul expulsion from the garden.  through the threat of  Here, the punishment i s e j e c t i o n from "the  book": "For d i d not, conceivably, God himself move w i t h i n His  own  64 c r e a t i o n i n j u s t such a ghostly f a s h i o n , and how should we see Him, when we dimly sense that He has the power at any moment to cut us out a l t o gether from His strange dark manuscript?" (142). Within t h i s framework, the Wildernesses begin t h e i r journey by f l y i n g forward i n t o the past.  The strangeness of t h i s s t r i k e s Sigbj0rn,  and he r e c a l l s once before having composed a poem based on a t r i p made to the American border from Vancouver i n order to meet Primrose and being turned back without seeing her: "He had wanted to give the impression of the bus going one way, toward the border and the f u t u r e , and, at the same time, of the shop windows and s t r e e t s f l a s h i n g by i n t o the past. . . . [But] these shop windows and s t r e e t s that he was so g l i b l y imagining i n the past were i n the f u t u r e too" (14).  They e x i s t , however, i n a  future subtly a l t e r e d by the emotional upset Sigbj0rn undergoes when h i s goal f a i l s to m a t e r i a l i z e . pointment.  Everything he sees i s coloured by his disap-  In the same way, the f l i g h t to Mexico i s d i s t o r t e d by h i s  f e a r s , his u n c e r t a i n t y , and his r a t h e r curious excitement. O s t e n s i b l y , the t r i p i s f o r Primrose, a kind of honeymoon a f t e r f i v e years of marriage that had witnessed and survived a number of severe catastrophes--the burning of t h e i r house, the loss of Sigbj0rn's book, and a q u i t e serious i l l n e s s .  Sigbj0rn's apparent d e s i r e f o r the v i s i t  i s to have a reunion with h i s f r i e n d , Juan Fernando Martinez.  Actually,  however, the t r i p i s Sigbjjflrn's attempt to disarm the spectres that torment him, to purge his memory of a l l the negative aspects of h i s l i f e . During the f l i g h t , much of his character i s u n v e i l e d .  His fears show  through h i s need to hide i n the rear of the plane and his reluctance to  65 remove his shoes; a l s o evident i n his obtuseness to almost everything external to his own consciousness.  As a w r i t e r , he d i s p l a y s an  unusual  lack of s e n s i t i v i t y to the d e t a i l s surrounding him, y e t , he remains aware of t h i s i n s u f f i c i e n c y i n himself.  Indeed, t h i s i s an e s s e n t i a l  aspect of his p e r s o n a l i t y as Lowry conceives i t : Wilderness i s not, i n the ordinary sense i n which one encounters n o v e l i s t s or the author i n novels, a n o v e l i s t . He simply doesn't know what he i s . . . . He i s not going to be the s e l f - c o n s c i o u s author himself of so many novels . . . even though I have to make him responsible f o r the Vole. Moreover he i s d i s i n t e r e s t e d i n l i t e r a t u r e , uncultured, i n c r e d i b l y unobservant, i n many respects ignorant, without f a i t h i n h i m s e l f , and l a c k i n g nearly a l l the q u a l i t i e s you normally associate with a n o v e l i s t or w r i t e r . . . . The Volcano . . . or rather The V a l l e y of the Shadow of Death, appears less as a novel than as a s o r t of mighty i f preposterous moral deed of some obscure s o r t , t e s t i f y i n g to an underlying toughness of f i b r e or staying power i n his character rather than to any p a r t i c u l a r aest h e t i c a b i l i t y of the usual kind. His very methods of w r i t i n g are absurd and he sees p r a c t i c a l l y nothing at a l l , save through h i s wife's eyes, though he gradually comes to see J The f l i g h t , i t s e l f , occupies the f i r s t i n t e r e s t was  three chapters.  Added  to have been supplied by the i n t r o d u c t i o n aboard the plane  to Dr. Hippolyte who does appear l a t e r i n a minor r o l e . the time devoted to the f l i g h t i s excessive.  As i t stands,  Nevertheless, i t does serve  to o u t l i n e a great deal of background information about the Wildernesses, as w e l l as to lay bare the nature of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p .  The strength  of t h e i r union i s s t r e s s e d , the closeness of t h e i r a f f i n i t y .  Yet w i t h i n  the u n i t they form, the two are at opposite extremes from each other. Primrose i s as spontaneous, v i v a c i o u s , and e x t r o v e r t e d , as Sigbjgirn i s moody, withdrawn, and sluggardly.  She i s meant to represent, i n f a c t , a  kind of l i f e f o r c e , a person who,  rather than reading or w r i t i n g a poem,  66 would of his  live  it  the f a c t  instead.  t h a t Lowry  Still, is  it  after  must be n o t e d  something o t h e r  c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n , remains a r a t h e r Primrose's  role  incredible  functioned  as " h e r g u i d e , h e r V i r g i l " ;  inertia  dependence on h e r h a n d l i n g night  habanero,  in Mexico, i t  since Sigbjtfrn  c o u r a g e needed t o  effect  He l o s e s c o n t a c t w i t h  vapid  increases.  of is  is  their  at  transaction  present,  of  its  of  temporal  his  such as h i s The h o t e l is  own t y p i c a l  was t o  the  hotel  out  sinking  choice of  recalls  " a copy o f  the  is  into  less  of  little  capabilities.  t o what seem a l m o s t  of  involuntary  Cornada as a p l a c e  Las Manos de O r l a c , f r o m  an A m e r i c a n copy o f  Berlin architecture"  their  even t h e  a timeless world  Hotel  greater  a bottle  beyond h i s  ghastly  the f i l m ,  p r o g r e s s i o n , a more o r  have  during  for  t h e s t a g e where t o m u s t e r  a minor  the  At  P r i m r o s e who v e n t u r e s  actions  novel; i t  figure.  affairs.  reflex  earlier  in  i n s t e a d , he r e v e a l s an e v e r  His a s s e r t i v e responses are l i m i t e d  residence.  spite  than v e r i s i m i l i t u d e  His i n t e n t i o n  self.  of  Primrose, in  becomes more and more e s s e n t i a l , h o w e v e r , as  Sigbjtfrn's  first  that  the  a cheap German copy  (75), s u g g e s t i n g , a g a i n , a l a c k static  repetition  that  mirrors  own e x p e r i e n c e . On t h e  Consul's  Durrant  Sigbj0rn's  i n Under t h e V o l c a n o , i n v o l v e s  harrowing mystical  symbolic l e v e l ,  of  h e l l , although  or m y t h i c a l . elucidates  the  In  descent i n t o a kind of  self,  emphasis i s  personal  an a r t i c l e  on "Through  the  of  the  d e a t h as p r e l u d e  here the  n e o - P l a t o n i c elements  like  rather  Panama,"  that story,  to a  than  Geoffrey  many o f  which  P are appropriate the  flight  to  south of  the  present c o n s i d e r a t i o n .  the W i l d e r n e s s e s r e p r e s e n t s  According to  this  a journey  the  of  doctrine, soul  67  from i t s true home i n the north i n t o the world of matter and the senses where i t must undergo p u r i f i c a t i o n .  S i t t i n g i n the cantina which had  furnished the model f o r the El Petate of The V a l l e y , Sigbj0rn r e c a l l s the l i n e , "who once f l e d north," from the Consul's poem that Hugh and Yvonne found on the back of a menu: "But the Consul had not f l e d north. . . . And they, Primrose and he, had not f l e d north e i t h e r . . . They had flown south, a h e l l of a way south" (85).  C h a r a c t e r i s t i c of t h i s  dark world are the f e a r and lethargy which dominate Sigbj0rn's  spirit  and which only an a c t i v e e f f o r t of the w i l l or the i n t e l l e c t can d i s p e l : "His g e t t i n g up, as i t were, symbolized the s t r u g g l e between l i f e and death to him" (191).  But f i r s t , h i s d e t e r i o r a t i o n continues to the point  where symbolic death almost becomes a c t u a l ; he attempts s u i c i d e i n the tower i n Cuernavaca. I t i s on the f i r s t leg of t h e i r excursion to l o c a t e Fernando that the Wildernesses a r r i v e i n Cuernavaca, the c i t y of Quauhnahuac i n Sigbj0rn's novel.  At almost every t u r n , something, a s t r e e t or a  c a n t i n a , emerges out of his past to confront him. But the sense of coincidence which s t r i k e s him assumes overwhelming proportions when he and Primrose f i n d themselves  l i v i n g i n the house of Jacques L a r u e l l e , the  tower which f i g u r e s so prominently i n The V a l l e y .  What Sigbj0rn  experiences i s the confluence of a l l three time dimensions; he stands looking down the C a l l e Humbolt, a t the j u n c t i o n of h i s novel's C a l l e Nicaragua and C a l l e T i e r a del Fuego: "The C a l l e Humbolt. The V a l l e y of the Shadow of Death! F i r e ! " (120).  His s t r e e t !  The s t r e e t of  S t r e e t of the Land of  The same occurrence i s repeated i n Oaxaca, again centering  68 around the C a l l e Humbolt where the Banco E j i d a l now happens to be l o c a t e d , extending s t i l l f u r t h e r the degree of i m p r o b a b i l i t y . Rendering the s i t u a t i o n i n Cuernavaca even more.unreal i s the f a c t that Sigbj0rn, while using t h i s s e t t i n g f o r his novel, had never a c t u a l l y been i n s i d e the tower.  The e n t i r e i n c i d e n t begins to appear, to him, outside the range  of coincidence, to be instead "bound up with some fundamental law of human destiny" (109). Not only does Sigbjtfrn f i n d h i m s e l f , as i t were, r e s i d i n g i n s i d e his  c r e a t i o n , but he also f e e l s himself merging with his c h a r a c t e r s . In  The V a l l e y , he had the Consul, while he was i n the tower, refuse Dr. V i g i l ' s o f f e r of a t r i p to Guanajuato and i n s i s t , i n s t e a d , on Tomalin, the F a r o l i t o , and death.  Now, Sigbj0rn faces the same choice of l i f e or  death; he, too, must decide whether or not to leave the tower and go to Oaxaca, the Parian o f h i s novel, where the F a r o l i t o i s l o c a t e d .  By par-  taking i n a l l the dimensions, a l l the " l i f e - l i n e s " of h i s created f i g u r e s , Sigbj0rn functions on a plane that seems somehow beyond the conventions of l i f e , almost as though he had died but s t i l l e x i s t e d : "Here he stood, in the tower of h i s own c r e a t i o n , surrounded by these ghosts of the past, of h i s l i f e - - i t was a dream--and about to set o f f t o meet one of his characters. . . . Death i n l i f e "  (189).  Sigbj0rn had used Fernando as a model f o r the sympathetic f i g u r e s of Dr. V i g i l and Juan C e r i l l o i n his book.  To Sigbj0rn, he i s stamped  with the n o b i l i t y of his Zapotecan h e r i t a g e , defined by h i s s t r e n g t h , his  courage, and his l o y a l t y ; he i s one of those few who could meet the  Consul's dictum of d r i n k i n g with him to the bottom of the bowl. The  69 memory of Fernando, however, cannot be separated i n his mind from that of his other companion during h i s previous v i s i t , John Stanford.  Indeed,  the two together are f o r Sigbj0rn what the Consul's f a m i l i a r s are to him, o r , i n f a c t , what the Good and E v i l Angels are to Faustus.  Stanford i s  associated with the opposite of everything Fernando stands f o r : "Stanford was hangovers; Stanford was l i e s ; Stanford was the prescience of d i s a s t e r and i t s c o e f f i c i e n t . . . . Stanford was the past and the d i f f i c u l t y of transcending i t "  (219).  As the i d e n t i t i e s of Hugh and the Consul, i n  The V a l l e y , came together through t h e i r sharing of Geoffrey's j a c k e t , so here, Sigbj0rn's i d e n t i t y tends to b l u r , to d i f f u s e , through a s i m i l a r sharing of c l o t h e s , i n t o the combined p e r s o n a l i t i e s of his two former friends. The t r i p to Oaxaca, leading to the meeting with Stanford, repeats the opening image of the novel, the movement into the f u t u r e which i s also the past.  The c i t y , i t s e l f , suggesting the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of t h e i r meeting,  i s a place where "past and present and f u t u r e were one: (214).  Conse-  quently, a l l of Sigbj0rn's experiences are a c t i v e and provide a touchstone against which to t e s t h i s memory.  And he learns that some of the  tendencies of memory are to invent, to d i s t o r t , to misrepresent  reality:  "The past grows . . . and confronts you i n a l l kinds of strange forms" (220).  Stanford, i n f a c t , no longer c o n s t i t u t e s a threat to Sigbj0rn;  indeed, i f anything, he seems as wary, as embarrassed, as unnerved during t h e i r encounter as Sigbj0rn himself.  As David Benham notes: "Stanford  represents . . . the impotence of what might be c a l l e d the o b j e c t i v e past, the past as i t i s p h y s i c a l l y manifested i n the present, as d i s t i n c t from  70 g the s u b j e c t i v e d i s t o r t i o n s of memory." to a degree.  The episode l i b e r a t e s Sigbj0rn  For one t h i n g , he r e a l i z e s that an understanding  of s e l f ,  to be valuable must be honest, and to be honest must i n v o l v e the t o t a l p e r s o n a l i t y , and Stanford i s as much a part of his make-up as i s Fernando. A s i m i l a r f a t e , however, awaits the memory of Fernando.  In  Sigbjjtfrn's mind, "no one could be more a l i v e or l i f e - g i v i n g i n s p i t e of a l l than [Fernando] was"  (223).  But, i n f a c t , Fernando has been dead  f o r s i x y e a r s , murdered i n the very month i n which Sigbj0rn and were married.  Primrose  Faced with t h i s f a c t , Sigbj0rn undergoes a kind of e x i s -  t e n t i a l awakening that extends the l i b e r a t i o n process the meeting with Stanford had begun.  He comes to r e a l i z e that "Fernando was merely the  b r i g h t side of the same medal: and that medal had equally been forged i n h e l l " (221).  Both of his f r i e n d s represent death, but Fernando suggests  the l u r e , the appeal of death, i t s sense of ease, of r e l e a s e .  This know-  ledge enables Sigbj0rn to view Fernando's murder r i t u a l i s t i c a l l y ; i n a way, h i s f r i e n d was a kind of surrogate f o r h i m s e l f , f r e e i n g him to the l i f e and creativeness symbolized  by his marriage with Primrose.  In a  s t a t e of intense awareness, coloured, at once, by g r i e f and a strange sense of e l a t i o n , Sigbj0rn "prays, f o r h i m s e l f , f o r Primrose, f o r Fernando, and, reminiscent of the Ancient Mariner, f o r the e n t i r e w o r l d , i n c l u d i n g John Stanford.  Like his counterpart, the Consul, he turns to "the  V i r g i n f o r those who  have nobody them w i t h , " and he i s able to f i n d Mary,  where the Consul found only Maria, the p r o s t i t u t e . At one point i n the novel, Sigbj0rn ponders the nature of sleep  71 and describes i t as "a s i n k i n g i n t o one's s e l f . . . reexperiencing one's past, f o r g e t t i n g one's present, and p r e f e e l i n g one's f u t u r e " (192). wake from t h i s dream-state  i s to undergo a kind of r e b i r t h .  In a number  of ways, Dark as the Grave can be regarded as j u s t such a dream. the s t r u c t u r e of the book partakes of t h i s q u a l i t y .  To  Even  At times, Lowry  freezes the a c t i o n i n the manner of Sterne, as when Sigbj0rn, i n Chapter V I I I , stands f o r a few seconds i n the doorway to his room watching Primrose s l e e p , although his r e f l e c t i o n s during t h i s moment cover a timespan of f i v e days.  Frequently, there i s a displacement i n time, as, f o r  i n s t a n c e , i n the middle chapters of the n o v e l , so that the journey to Oaxaca, about to commence at the end of the s i x t h chapter, i s held i n check u n t i l the beginning of the n i n t h .  And between, Sigbj0rn, i n a kind  of r e v e r i e , r e l i v e s both h i s immediate and d i s t a n t p a s t s , the excursion to Yautepec, f o r example, or his w r i t i n g , or the New Year's c e l e b r a t i o n . A c t u a l l y , many of the separate episodes of the novel have the p e c u l i a r nature of a s i n g l e remembered or dreamed experience.  In a d d i t i o n  to the i r r e g u l a r i t i e s of time and space which seem to c h a r a c t e r i z e the Wildernesses' t r i p , Sigbj0rn i s subject to the d i s l o c a t i o n s caused by alcohol.  The torment of a hangover i s thus increased as i t i s accompanied  by the memories of other hangovers.  I t i s through these r e v e r i e s and  r e c o l l e c t i o n s , i n t o which category Sigbj0rn's long monologue with Eddie Kent and Dr. Hippolyte f i t s , that one learns the d e t a i l s of the burning of the Wildernesses' house and of Sigbj0rn's n o v e l , In B a l l a s t to the White Sea, already once saved from a c o n f l a g r a t i o n by S t a n f o r d , of the r e f u s a l of The V a l l e y by p u b l i s h e r s , of t h e i r charges of p l a g i a r i s m and  72 i m i t a t i v e n e s s , of t h e i r subsequent, highly t e n t a t i v e , tenuous  interest  i n the book, of Sigbj0rn's dispassionate attempt to slash h i s w r i s t s , of the l o n g , almost disasterous sojourn i n Cuernavaca. Sigbj0rn possesses s u f f i c i e n t i n s i g h t to see himself walking i n his  own dream, but he questions his a b i l i t y or h i s powers to intervene  in the process o f the dream.  He r e c a l l s having seen a f i l m of The F a l l  of the House of Usher i n which the d i r e c t o r had taken the l i b e r t y of a l t e r i n g Poe's story i n order to e f f e c t a happy, triumphant ending: He r e a l i z e d that he was not only walking i n t h i s unreal landscape, withdrawn i n t o a daydream, but that t h i s daydream was framed . . . in y e t another withdrawal, by the cinema, i n which again he was watching a shadow show on a screen, not even then an o r i g i n a l s t o r y , but as the d i r e c t o r had i t , a t r a n s c r i p t of themes from Edgar A l l a n Poe. (248) The q u e s t i o n , f o r Sigbj0rn, i s whether or not he enjoys the same leeway as t h i s d i r e c t o r , and can thus a l t e r the outcome of " t h i s f i l m of h i s life." The idea o f turning impending tragedy i n t o triumph dominates the imagery o f Dark as the Grave, a p p r o p r i a t e l y so, as the f i n a l note o f the novel i s the r e s t o r a t i o n o f balance.  Indeed, i n a sense, the book i s  intended as a complement f o r Under the Volcano, as Lowry t e s t i f i e s i n a l e t t e r : "We progress toward e q u i l i b r i u m t h i s time instead o f i n the other direction."^  The pattern which seems to u n d e r l i e a l l of Sigbj0rn's  endeavors r e f l e c t s the c y c l e of the u n i v e r s e — c r e a t i o n , f i r e , d e s t r u c t i o n , water, r e - c r e a t i o n .  Complementing Yvonne's dying v i s i o n i n Under the  Volcano, the Wildernesses a c t u a l l y lose t h e i r home by f i r e .  To overcome  t h i s , they e r e c t , upon the charred ruins of the o l d , a new house. Y e t ,  73  l i k e the Consul, they are threatened with e v i c t i o n .  To Sigbj0rn i t  appears the greater the e f f o r t , the greater the achievement, the greater the subsequent loss and pain: " I t was l i k e the t i d e a t Eridanus. f a r t h e r i t came i n , the f a r t h e r i t went out. each time had a f i r e .  The  Each time had a r e b u i l d i n g ,  . . . [The] rhythm had been something l i k e t h i s :  s t a r t i n g with d i s a s t e r , r e a c t i o n , determination to transcend d i s a s t e r , success, f a i l u r e ; i t had become e f f o r t , apparent success, something happens, f a i l u r e " (169). Having perceived the p a t t e r n , however,.Sigbj0rn must break i t ; he i s resolved to set h i s course on an "upward s p i r a l . "  The whole of the  novel, i n f a c t , i s organized on the basis of t h i s e f f o r t .  His f i r s t  Mexican v i s i t , rather than e s t a b l i s h i n g a foundation on which to b u i l d his  present and f u t u r e l i f e , has proved a b a r r i e r to self-knowledge and  self-fulfilment.  Such knowledge as Sigbj0rn possesses i s merely  con-  f u s i o n ; h i s memories p e r s i s t as his present r e a l i t y , thereby r e t a r d i n g development.  By r e t u r n i n g to Mexico and repeating so many of his e a r l i e r  experiences, Sigbj0rn, i n e f f e c t , i s s t a r t i n g a l l over again from the beginning, but with the advantage of h i n d s i g h t : I t was as i f the funeral pyre had proved inadequate to the phoenix, and he had looked around him f o r another kind of immolation i n the depths of the past. And he would f i n d h i s old s e l f here i n Mexico i f anywhere, face to face . .. . with everything t h a t that s e l f had imperfectly transcended. (91) With the r e a l i t y of Fernando and Stanford recognized and accepted, Sigbj0rn must encounter one more, and more potent than e i t h e r of the former, v e s t i g e of the past--the F a r o l i t o , "the symbol of death."  74 Somewhere i n s i d e i t s closed w a l l s and hidden c l o i s t e r s , i t s memories of disease, drunkenness, and debauchery, i s contained the root of the i d e n t i t y he i s seeking, and Sigbj0rn i s inexorably drawn to i t . But he finds the F a r o l i t o gone, i t s entrances boarded up, i t s name painted out. I t has moved to a new l o c a t i o n ; and since i t no longer e x i s t s as he remembers i t , there i s no motivation, no compulsion f o r him to seek i t out.  That which has represented death becomes "somehow associated with  freedom."  Sigbj0rn experiences  the r e l e a s e , not of death, which he  was  a c t u a l l y seeking, but of r e b i r t h , of a movement upward from h e l l i n t o life. Images of regeneration and growth dominate the conclusion of Dark as the Grave.  Largely through the work of Fernando and his employer,  the Banco E j i d a l , vast t r a c t s of land, formerly a r i d and waste, have become lush and f e r t i l e .  Fernando i s associated with P a r s i f a l , r e s t o r i n g  and r e v i t a l i z i n g the earth.  But Fernando represents more than t h i s .  Through his philosophy, La Vida Impersonal, he embodied the idea that "every man was h i s own Garden of Eden" (239), thereby i n s e r t i n g i n t o the ideal of r e b i r t h the onus of i n d i v i d u a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to bring i t about. Coming across the old s i t e of the Banco E j i d a l , above which Fernando had l i v e d , Sigbj0rn and Primrose f i n d that i t i s a bank no longer. "the whole place was  i n g l o r i o u s bloom, packed along i t s e n t i r e length  and breadth with blossoms and r i o t s of roses" (245).  A similar  mation occurs at the ruins of M i t l a which the Wildernesses leaving.  Rather,  transfor-  v i s i t before  The appearance of the r u i n s , which date back to p r e h i s t o r i c  times, might suggest stagnation, death, and decay, but, i n s t e a d , they  75 convey both a sense of l i f e , of the joys and p o s s i b i l i t i e s of l i v i n g , and also a sense of c o n t i n u i t y that makes Sigbjorn think of Eridanus, " r i v e r of l i f e : r i v e r of youth: r i v e r of death," a sense of l i f e going on i n a never ending c y c l e . "Le gusta este j a r d i n ? "  The t e r r i f y i n g i m p l i c a t i o n s which  sign holds f o r the Consul have been rendered impotent.  this  I t i s a new year.  Everywhere that Sigbj0rn looks t e s t i f i e s to c r e a t i v i t y and f r u i t f u l n e s s , to a harmony between man and man, and man and nature, to "the s o i l ponding and . . . men l i v i n g as they ought to l i v e " (254). a l l i t s infernal "[It]  res-  Oaxaca, with  s i g n i f i c a t i o n s has, l i k e Sigbj0rn h i m s e l f , been reborn:  had become the granary of nearly a l l of Mexico  . . . a f i e l d of  young, new wheat . . . a f i e l d of ripening wheat dimming to gold . . . quince and peach orchards . . . The Banco E j i d a l had become a garden" (255).  FOOTNOTES  Dark as the Grave, p. 61. A l l subsequent references to the novel i n t h i s chapter w i l l be given i n t e r n a l l y . 2 Selected L e t t e r s , p. 180. 3 Dark as the Grave, pp. x x i - x x i i . ^Selected L e t t e r s , p. 331. 5 Malcolm Lowry, l e t t e r to David Markson, pub. i n CanL, 44 (Spring 1970), 54. 6  Conrad Aiken, Blue Voyage (New York, 1927), p. 248.  7  S e l e c t e d L e t t e r s , p. 331.  o  Durrant, pp. 14-15. g David Stanley Benham, "A Liverpool of S e l f : A Study of Lowry's F i c t i o n other than Under the Volcano," unpub. d i s s . , B r i t i s h Columbia, 1969, p. 39. ^ S e l e c t e d L e t t e r s , p. 157.  CHAPTER V CONCLUSION In an essay which Lowry found i n t r i g u i n g , Ortega states the appropriateness of the preoccupation with s e l f that he sees dominating l i t e r a t u r e s i n c e Goethe and the l a t e r Romantics: " L i f e i s with i t s e l f . " ^  preoccupation  Writers focus t h e i r a t t e n t i o n p r i m a r i l y on t h e i r  own  experiences, not because t h e i r motives tend toward autobiography, nor because i t i s perhaps themselves that they know best, but because they have made "the preconceptual  discovery that l i f e i s not a r e a l i t y that  encounters a greater or l e s s e r number of problems, but that i t e x i s t s 2 e x c l u s i v e l y i n the problem of i t s e l f . "  The goal i s self-knowledge,  i d e n t i t y delineated by the past and f u t u r e .  an  The value of the present i s  minimal, since i t i s , at best, a f l e e t i n g i n s t a n t where past and future merge.  Ortega f e e l s that man  i s r i g h t l y oriented toward the f u t u r e , but  because i t i s always p o t e n t i a l , i t remains p r o b l e m a t i c a l , and man  looks  to the past f o r the means and methods with which to handle future s i t u a tions.  For the person l i k e Lowry, however, to whom the past, i t s e l f ,  appears p r o b l e m a t i c a l , danger l i e s i n both d i r e c t i o n s . He s u f f e r s , at once, under the "imperative of r e a l i z a t i o n " of the f u t u r e , and the necess i t y of " s e l f - j u s t i f i c a t i o n " which a f f l i c t s the memory of the past.  To  meet t h i s task i s a l i f e - l o n g e f f o r t ; a "voyage that never ends," because i t i s , i n f a c t , t h i s charge that c o n s t i t u t e s the essence of the aware, responsible l i f e : "A man to h i m s e l f . "  3  cannot l i v e without j u s t i f y i n g h i s l i f e  78 Such a theory goes f a r toward f u r n i s h i n g an accurate d e s c r i p t i o n of Lowry's needs and aims.  C e r t a i n l y , the past, s e l f , and the need to  r e c o n c i l e the two dominated his l i f e ; consequently, they determined  the  way he could approach his a r t , making of i t a tool to turn the past to account.  But Lowry's view of existence could not be contained i n a con-  ventional scheme of r e a l i t y .  Dorothy Van Ghent claims that when the  current of ideas already i n force i n any age do not s u f f i c e to accommodate an a r t i s t ' s l i f e or his work, he i s turned inward, to conceive and to t e s t w i t h i n his own experience a conceptual and a e s t h e t i c approach which 4 w i l l allow him to f u n c t i o n i n the world.  Thus, Lowry's v i s i o n , and,  a c c o r d i n g l y , his techniques had to include the i r r e g u l a r phenomena he encountered—coincidence,  t e l e p a t h y , recurrence—and  had to r e f l e c t the  rhythm of l i f e he p e r c e i v e d — a l t e r n a t i n g c r e a t i o n and d e s t r u c t i o n . A l l Lowry's w r i t i n g i s , i n a sense, a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l , but to say t h i s i s to say very l i t t l e .  His characters are drawn from a l i m i t e d  supply and show a high degree of s i m i l a r i t y from one work to another, as do Sigbj0rn and the Consul, the Consul and Hugh, Hugh and Dana H i l l i o t , Fernando, Dr. V i g i l , and Juan C e r i l l o , o r , f i n a l l y , as do Primrose and Yvonne.  A l l a r e , of course, taken from Lowry's immediate experience,  and most, i n f a c t , are aspects of himself.  In Dark as the Grave, as he  i s d e s c r i b i n g the characters i n The V a l l e y to Eddie Kent and Dr. Hippolyte, Sigbj0rn i d e n t i f i e s Hugh as himself and adds, "I might say the same of a l l the other characters too" (149).  Such extreme fragmenta-  t i o n of h i s own p e r s o n a l i t y by an author can make character e v a l u a t i o n highly complicated and can lead to the kind of statement that one  critic  79  applies to Hear Us 0 Lord when he finds three protagonists named Wilderness that are not wholly i d e n t i c a l and considers t h i s "an indefen5  s i b l e lapse."  I t has a l s o been said that Lowry's modes of consciousness  cannot be thought through and imply only "a profoundly schizophrenic awareness of s e l f . "  That h i s conception cannot be seen i n i t s e n t i r e t y  i s t r u e , simply because h i s characters and the world that contains them are,  themselves, not l i m i t e d or f i n i t e .  Yet, there e x i s t a number of  d i f f e r e n t but compatible systems of character conception, amenable to his world-view, which can be applied with j u s t i f i c a t i o n to his work and which help to e x p l a i n his methods. On the most a c c e s s i b l e l e v e l , Lowry's method i s simply the a p p l i c a t i o n of Ortega's " h i s t o r i c a l reason" by a f i g u r e who  i s a l s o Ortega's  " n o v e l i s t , " both c r e a t i n g his l i f e and t r y i n g to understand h i s c r e a t i o n . To accomplish t h i s , Lowry fragments himself i n t o personae, analyzing each fragment as a synechdoche, then r e i n t e g r a t i n g them i n t o a u n i f i e d whole. On another l e v e l , Lowry's characters can be seen as Dunne's observers. This helps to account f o r the repeated use of the same f i g u r e s , the same i n c i d e n t s from one work to another.  Each persona becomes a "higher order  observer" with a wider range of perception.  Here, the u l t i m a t e goal i s  the i n t e g r a t i o n of the personae i n a " s u p e r l a t i v e general observer." S t i l l another convention i n t o which Lowry's conception f i t s i s the Indian Doctrine of Karma through which the moral consequences of a l l  the  actions of a l i f e must be faced, e i t h e r i n one's immediate existence or in a l a t e r one.  In t h i s sense, each persona i s an i n c a r n a t i o n , condemned  through the f a i l u r e s of the past to be born again into the world of  80 matter, to repeat, to c o r r e c t , and to transcend  h i s experiences.  these devices are at work a t once i n Lowry's f i c t i o n .  A l l of  Each provides a  means of approaching wholeness, a t o t a l view of s e l f , but even they must remain incomplete because, f i n a l l y , s e l f can never by wholly apprehended. Indeed, p e r s o n a l i t y , to Lowry, means much the same that i t meant to Herman Hesse, to whom Lowry acknowledges h i s a f f i n i t y . ^  The protagonist  i n Steppenwolf considers himself more aware than the average man because he defines human nature i n terms of a dualism rather than a monism.  He  l e a r n s , however, that l i f e "consists of a thousand s e l v e s , not of two, that i t o s c i l l a t e s . . . not merely between two poles, such as the body and the s p i r i t , the s a i n t and the s i n n e r , but between thousands and o  thousands."  I t i s only from d e l u s i o n , or perhaps convenience, that man  regards himself as a u n i t y : "In r e a l i t y . . . every ego, so f a r from being a u n i t y i s i n the highest degree a manifold world, a c o n s t e l l a t e d heaven, a chaos of forms, of states and stages, of inheritances and g potentialities." The same complexities that beset Lowry's theories of character t y p i f y h i s approach to a r t i n general.  He held the b e l i e f that a r t , l i k e  the universe, was i n a continual process of development, and that any attempt to make i t f i n a l was to d i s t o r t , to f a l s i f y i t .  W r i t i n g about  the short story "Ghostkeeper," Lowry claims: The minute an a r t i s t begins to t r y and shape his material--the more e s p e c i a l l y i f that material i s h i s own life--some s o r t of magic l e v e r i s thrown i n t o gear, s e t t i n g some s o r t of c e l e s t i a l machinery i n motion, producing events or coincidences that show him that t h i s shaping of h i s i s absurd, that nothing i s s t a t i c or can be pinned down, that everything i s developing or evolving i n t o other meanings,  81 or c a n c e l l a t i o n s of meanings, quite beyond h i s comprehension. There i s something mechanical about t h i s process symbolized by the watch: on the other hand, the human mind or w i l l or consciousness or whatever, of which the owner knows nothing at a l l , y e t which has a w i l l of i t s own, becomes automatically at such moments i n touch, as i t were, with the control tower of t h i s machinery.10 Perhaps t h i s helps e x p l a i n why so l i t t l e of Lowry's work was completed by him; he could never stop r e v i s i n g as the work never stopped growing. C e r t a i n l y , an awareness of these f a c t s p r o h i b i t s the f a c i l e a p p l i c a t i o n of c r i t i c a l d i s t i n c t i o n s about a r t and autobiography, the "biographical f a l l a c y , " or p l o t and character development.  As W. H. New suggests,  Lowry's scheme i s vaster than conventional c r i t i c i s m may a l l o w ; i t i s no less than "to t r y to render a l l human experience and a l l i t s paradoxes of time, place, and perception, i n something more emotionally overwhelming than a b s t r a c t terms. Such an awareness on the part of the reader a l s o m i l i t a t e s against making d e f i n i t i v e claims as to Lowry's i n t e n t i o n s ; i t accentuates the p a r t i a l i t y of any treatment. In an otherwise f r u i t f u l study of Lowry's 12 work, Diane Fernandez f a u l t s on j u s t these grounds.  She suggests that  the apparent threats to Lowry's s e c u r i t y - - t h e past, remorse, entrapment i n h i s c r e a t i o n s — a r e i n f a c t accompanied by fears of repentance and reconciliation.  By i d e n t i f y i n g Lowry s o l e l y with the Consul, she goes  so f a r as to see impotence and the lack of hope as the central themes of his f i c t i o n .  Such a view ignores important segments of h i s l i f e and h i s  a r t and the r o l e s of l o v e , humour, and a f f i r m a t i o n i n each.  Jung has  stated that "a great work of a r t i s l i k e a dream; f o r a l l i t s apparent 13 obviousness i t does not e x p l a i n i t s e l f and i s never unequivocal." As  82  the a r t i s , so, too, i s i t s c r e a t o r .  Lowry a s s i m i l a t e d everything he  read or came i n t o contact w i t h , and i n his mind everything was transformed back i n t o primary material f o r his use. I t i s i n r e c o g n i t i o n of t h i s f a c t that t h i s study suggests the relevance of Ortega and Dunne to Lowry's a e s t h e t i c .  To place Under the Volcano and Dark as the Grave i n  the l i g h t of Ortega's theories of man and h i s t o r y , to examine Lowry's technique i n terms of Dunne's Law of S e r i e s , and to postulate as his goal the Indian a b o l i t i o n of memory i s merely to suggest useful  analogies,  p a r a l l e l vantage points from which to regard, once again, Lowry's work. P o s s i b l y the most productive way to achieve a comprehensive view of Lowry's scheme i s to see i t i n terms of the c i r c l e , the mandala concept which, through i t s motion, brings i n t o play a l l facets of s e l f and r e a l i t y and integrates them. s t r u c t u r e , and i m a g e r y — i s  The basis of Under the Volcano--its theme,  circular.  The a c t i o n of Dark as the Grave,  returning to Mexico and leaving i t a second time, defines a c i r c l e .  In  f a c t the l a t t e r novel completes a c i r c l e begun i n the former, the voyage and r e t u r n , the movement from l i f e to h e l l to l i f e . movements are incorporated  And, f i n a l l y , these  i n t o the greater sphere of The Voyage that  Never Ends, culminating i n the v i s i o n of peace, l o v e , s p r i n g , and r e b u i l d ing that ends the f i n a l work of the s e r i e s , La Mordida: [ I t was not forbidden Sigbjtfrn] to hope that what had died was hims e l f , and what came about through these confusions, these o s c i l l a t i o n s , these misunderstandings and l i e s and d i s a s t e r s , these weavings to and f r o , these t r e a c h e r i e s , these projections of the past upon the present, of the imagination upon r e a l i t y , that out of these d i s l o c a t i o n s of time, these configurations of u n r e a l i t y , and the c o l l a p s e of w i l l , out of these a l l but incommunicable agonies, as of the mind and heart stretched and attenuated beyond endurance on an eternal  83  rack, out of the arrant cowardice before l i t t l e danger, and bravery i n the face of what seemed s l i g h t to overcome, and heartache, and l o n g i n g , had been born, d a r k l y and tremulous, a soul R e a l i t y remains p l u r a l ; ultimate r e a l i t y , i f there be such, can never be f u l l y grasped, and the only absolute i s u n c e r t a i n t y .  Neverthe-  l e s s , man functions i n the media of l o g i c a l and psychological time, and i t i s the manifestation of experience i n time with which Lowry i s concerned.  He makes us aware of the force of both times, of t h e i r mechani-  c a l , r a c i a l , and cosmic r o l e s i n our l i v e s .  He makes us aware, too, of  the e x t r a o r d i n a r y range of memory, the agency through which we r e c l a i m and order manifested experience, and of the " c u l t u r a l complexity of a 15 human beings s t o r e of memory."  And to do t h i s , he employs our  common Mneme which i s language, and focuses i t on that confluence of time and memory which i s the past.  FOOTNOTES  '"In Search of Goethe from Within," p. 135. 2  I b i c U , pp. 136-137.  3  I b i d . , p. 152.  ^Dorothy Van Ghent, The English Novel: form and f u n c t i o n (New York, 1953), p. 317. . D a l e Edmonds, "The Short F i c t i o n of Malcolm Lowry," TSE, 15 (1967), 72. 5  6  Benham, p. 47.  Se1ected L e t t e r s , p. 268. Q Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf, trans. B a s i l Creighton (New York, 1969), p. 66. 7  9  I b i d . , p. 67.  1 0  C i t e d i n E p s t e i n , p. 227.  ]1  C a n L , 44, p. 10.  Diane Fernandex, "Malcolm Lowry e t l e feu i n f e r n a l , " Preuves, 215-216 (fevrier-mars 1970), 131-133. 13  Modern Man i n Search of a Soul, p. 171.  M a l c o l m Lowry, La Mordida, unpubl. TSS I . A . b . l . ( x - x l v ) , Special C o l l e c t i o n s , U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, p. 345. 14  15  L e e c h , p. 335.  A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY  A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY  I.  WORKS BY MALCOLM LOWRY  Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend i s L a i d . Margerie Lowry. Cleveland, 1968. "Garden of E l t a . "  United Nations World.  Ed. Douglas Day and  4 (June 1950), 45-47.  Hear Us 0 Lord, From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place. La Mordida. Unpubl. TSS I.A.b.l. ( x - x l v ) . s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia. L e t t e r to David Markson. Lunar Caustic.  CanL.  Special C o l l e c t i o n s , Univer-  44 (Spring 1970), 53-56.  London, 1963.  "Preface to a Novel." 23-29.  Trans. George Woodcock.  Selected L e t t e r s of Malcolm Lowry. Bonner Lowry. New York, 1965. Selected Poems of Malcolm Lowry. T962.  Ed. Earle Birney.  Under the Volcano. New York, 1947. "Under the Volcano." PrS. 37 (1963), 284-300.  Aiken, Conrad.  Blue Voyage.  9 (Summer 1961),  San Francisco,  Show Magazine (March 1964), 45-  London, 1933.  II.  CanL.  Ed. Harvey B r e i t and Margerie  "The Element Follows You Around, S i r . " 46, 96-103. Ultramarine.  New York, 1961.  SECONDARY SOURCES New York, 1927.  87 Barnes, Jim. "The Myth of Sisyphus i n Under the Volcano." (1968), 341-348.  PrS.  42  Benham, David Stanley. "A Liverpool of S e l f : A Study of Lowry's F i c t i o n other than Under the Volcano." Unpubl. d i s s . B r i t i s h Columbia, 1967. Bergson, Henri. 1914.  Creative Evolution.  . Matter and Memory. Palmer. London, 1912. .  Time and Freewi11.  Trans. Arthur M i t c h e l l .  London,  Trans. Nancey Margaret Paul and W. Scott Trans. F. L. Pogson.  The Bhavagad G i t a . 1962.  Trans. Juan Mascaro.  C h i t t i c k , V. L. 0. 67-75.  "Ushant's Malcolm Lowry."  London, 1910.  Harmondsworth, Middlesex, QQ.  71 (Spring 1964),  Church, Margaret. Time and R e a l i t y : Studies i n Contemporary Chapel H i l l , 1949.  Fiction.  Costa, Richard Hauer. "Ulysses, Lowry's Volcano and the Voyage Between: A Study of an Unacknowledged L i t e r a r y Kinship." UTQ. 36 ( J u l y 1967), 335-352. Day, Douglas. "Malcolm Lowry: L e t t e r s to an E d i t o r . " (Spring 1964), 3-15. .  "Of Tragic Joy."  Donne: P o e t i c a l Works. Dunne, J . W.  PrS.  Shanendoah.  15  37 (1963), 354-362.  Ed. S i r Herbert Grierson.  An Experiment with Time.  3rd ed.  London, 1933. London, 1939.  Durrant, Geoffrey. "Death i n L i f e : Neo-Platonic Elements i n 'Through the Panama'." CanL. 44 (Spring 1970), 13-27. Edmonds, Dale. "Under the Volcano: A Reading of the Immediate L e v e l . " TSE. 16 (1968)763-105. "The Short F i c t i o n of Malcolm Lowry."  TSE.  15 (1967), 59-80.  E l i a d e , Mircea. "Time and E t e r n i t y i n Indian Thought," i n Man and Time: Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks. 3. New York, B o l l i n g e n Series 30 and London, 1957. E p s t e i n , Perle D. The P r i v a t e Labyrinth of Malcolm Lowry: Under the Volcano and the Cabbala. New York, 1969.  88 Faulkner i n the U n i v e r s i t y : Class Conferences a t the U n i v e r s i t y of V i r g i n i a 1957-1958. Ed. Frederick L. Gwynn and Joseph L. Blotner. New York, 1959. Fernandez, Diane. "Malcolm Lowry et l e feu i n f e r n a l . " (fevrier-mars 1970), 129-134. Grieg, Nordahl. 1927.  Preuves, 215-216  The Ship S a i l s On. Trans. A. G. Chater.  New York,  Heilman, Robert B.. "The Possessed A r t i s t and the A i l i n g Soul." 8 (Spring 1961), 7-16. Hesse, Herman.  Steppenwolf.  Trans. B a s i l Creighton.  CanL.  New York, 1969.  The I Ching: or Book of Changes. Richard Wilhelm, ed. Cary F. Baynes, trans. 3rd ed. New York, 1950. Immanuel Kant's C r i t i q u e of Pure Reason. York, 1950. Joyce, James.  Ulysses.  Trans. Norman Kemp Smith.  New  Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1968.  Jung, C. G. Modern Man i n Search of a Soul. F. Baynes. New York, 1933.  Trans. W. S. Dell and Cary  . Psyche and Symbol: A S e l e c t i o n from the Writings of C_. (5. Jung. Ed. V i o l e t S. L a s z l o . New York, 1958. Kafka, Franz. The T r i a l . Middlesex, 1953. K i l g a l l i n , Anthony R. 1965), 43-54.  Trans. W i l l a and Edwin Muir.  "Faust and Under the Volcano."  Harmondsworth, CanL.  K i r k , Downie. "More than Music: Glimpses o f Malcolm Lowry." (Spring 1961), 31-38. Knickerbocker, Conrad. "Malcolm Lowry i n England." (Summer 1966), 13-38. .  "The Voyages of Malcolm Lowry."  26 (Autumn CanL.  8  P a r i s Review. 38  PrS. 37 (1963), 301-314.  Leech, C l i f f o r d . "The Shaping o f Time: Nostromo and Under the Volcano," i n Imagined Worlds: Essays on Some English Novels and N o v e l i s t s i n Honor o f John Butt. Ed. Maynard Mack and Ian Gregor. London, 1968. Mann, Thomas. Doctor Faustus. Middlesex, 1968.  Trans. H. T. Lowe-Parker.  Harmondsworth,  89 Markson, David.  "Myth i n Under the Volcano."  M e l v i l l e , Herman. Moby Dick: or The Whale. New York, 1964. Meyerhoff, Hans. 1955.  Time i n L i t e r a t u r e .  PrS.  37 (1963), 339-346.  Ed. Charles Feidelson J r .  London, Berkeley, Los Angeles,  New, William H. "Lowry's Reading: An Introductory Essay." Spring 1970), 5-12.  CanL.  44  Ortega Y Gasset, Jose. The Dehumanization of A r t and Other Writings on Art and Culture. New York, 1956. . H i s t o r y as a_ System and other Essays Toward a_ Philosophy of H i s t o r y . Trans. Helene Weyl. New York, 1941. Ouspensky, P. D. In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching. London, 1950. Proust, Marcel. Remembrance of Things Past. Trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Frederick A. Blossom. 2 v o l s . New York, 1924. Six Characters i n Search of an Author: A Comedy i n the Making i n Naked Masks: Five Plays by L u i g i P i r a n d e l l o . Ed. E r i c Bently. New York, Thomas, Hilda L. "Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano: An I n t e r p r e t a t i o n . " Unpubl. d i s s . B r i t i s h Columbia, 1965. Tiessen, Paul. 38-49.  "Malcolm Lowry and the Cinema."  CanL.  44 (Spring 1970),  The T r a g i c a l H i s t o r y of Dr. Faustus i n Christopher Marlowe: The Plays. Ed. J . B. Sterne. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1969. Van Ghent, Dorothy. 1953. Wild, Bernadette. the Volcano."  The English Novel: form and f u n c t i o n .  Complete  New York,  "Malcolm Lowry: A Study of the Sea Metaphor i n Under UWR. 4 ( F a l l , 1968), 46-60.  The World's Great R e l i g i o n s .  New York, 1957.  

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