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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The making of Under the Volcano : an examination of lyrical structure, with reference to textual revisions Johnson, Carell

Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to investigate how Lowry expanded Under the Volcano beyond the narrative level and yet also managed to infuse this dense, expanded structure with an organic unity. Passages from the earlier drafts of the novel have been juxtaposed with the printed version in order to reveal salient aspects of method and purpose in the novel's composition. Chapter I attempts to demonstrate that Under the Volcano is essentially a lyrical novel and discusses the background and aims of this twentieth century genre. What chiefly distinguishes the lyrical from the non-lyrical novel is that it transcends chronological time, to some degree, and presents a spatial pattern. Chapter II discusses the cosmic outlook which prompts a writer to aim at presenting simultaneity rather than succession, and examines textual revisions which reveal Lowry's intention to give his theme a cosmic or universal scope. Chapter III examines how Lowry has expanded moments in the narrative through the use of leitmotif. In tracing these flexible motifs, we see that Lowry has used variation to make one symbol or image embrace both positive and negative poles and thus render his central theme, the dichotomy of human experience. Chapter IV traces how Lowry has used another musical device, counterpoint, to expand moments or scenes in the narrative and thus suggest simultaneity. The final chapter discusses the prevailing atmosphere of poised tension and the wave pattern which emerge from the novel's structure and how this pattern not only gives the expanded structure a unity, but also renders theme.

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