UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A Liverpool of self ; a study of Lowry's fiction other than Under the volcano Benham, David Stanley


This thesis is an investigation of a group of central themes which run through Lowry”s work; it centres on such key-words as 'isolation', 'alienation', and 'self-absorption'. Lowry's protagonists are seen as men trapped in "a Liverpool of self"; they are characteristically torn between a desire to escape from their prison and a desire to remain in it. Although Lowry invests his self-absorbed heroes with a certain splendour, fulfilment only comes to them when they become capable of reaching beyond themselves and entering into community with another. In the Introduction, I have briefly reviewed Lowry's early life and works. We can find, in his insecure childhood and in his obsessive identification with Conrad Aiken and Nordahl Grieg, evidence of his own alienation; the search for a stable human relationship is central to even his earliest work. Chapter I is a discussion of Lunar Caustic; I distinguish between the two major versions of this book, finding in each a distinct aspect of the search for relationship. The chapter concludes with some observations on the probably structure of The Voyage That Never Ends as Lowry first conceived it. After his second marriage in 1940, the relationship between man and wife became, for Lowry, the prototype of the community which his protagonists seek. In Chapter 2 I discuss Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend Is Laid and La Mordida, in which the marriage relationship is central. Chapter 2 concludes with an analysis of Sigbjørn Wilderness' 'metaphysical alienation'; Chapter 3 traces the cyclical pattern of Hear Us 0 Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place in terms of the constant struggle to break down the distinction between the inner world of the mind and the outer 'real' world. In "The Element Follows You Around, Sir!" and "Ghostkeeper" we see this 'real' world itself in the throes of a kind of nervous breakdown; in Chapter 4 I attempt to find the meaning of these puzzling stories, and conclude that, like the rest of Lowry's work, they affirm the necessity of the individual to find himself in relation to others.

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