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Joyce/Lowry: Critical Perspectives

Patrick A. McCarthy
Paul Tiessen
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    While James Joyce was a central figure of high modernism, Malcom Lowry spoke for the next generation of modernist writers and, despite his denials, was almost certainly influenced by Joyce. Wherever the truth lies, there are correspondences and differences to be explored between Joyce and Lowry that are far more interesting than the question of direct influence. Despite numerous differences, their works have much in common: verbal richness, experimentation with narrative structure and perspective, a fascination with cultural and historical forces as well as with the process of artistic creation, and the inclusion of artist figures who are in varying degrees ironic self-portrayals.

    The contributors toJoyce/Lowryexamine the relationship of these two expatriates writers, both to each other and to broader issues in the study of literary modernism and its aftermath. This collection embraces a variety of approaches. The volume begins with a consideration of Joyce and Lowry as practitioners of Expressionist art and concludes with an essay on John Huston's cinematic interpretation of works by both writers. In between are explorations of nationalism, anti-Semitism, syphilis, mental illness, and authorial design.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5939-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. A Note on References
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Patrick A. McCarthy

    In an age that has become increasingly skeptical about literary canons, James Joyce remains one of the few undeniably canonical modernist writers:Finnegans Wakeis probably more often admired than read, butDubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, andUlyssesare among the works most frequently studied by critics and assigned to students of twentieth-century literature. Malcolm Lowry’s status is less secure, but the posthumous publication in recent years of many of his works, along with an increasingly substantial body of biographical and critical studies, indicates a level of scholarly interest that Lowry’s fiction only briefly...

  6. one Midsummer Madness and the Day of the Dead: Joyce, Lowry, and Expressionism
    (pp. 9-20)
    Sherrill Grace

    Since the publication in 1947 of Malcolm Lowry’s masterpiece,Under the Volcano, it has been critically de rigueur to call Joyce’sUlysses(1922) an influence or even a seminal precursor.¹ After all, the two texts have stunning similarities, not the least of which being that they are both “family romances” that take place in a single day. ButVolcanoalso parallelsUlyssesin details of relationship and event: in each an essentially noble, middle-aged husband (the one a Jew, the other significantly mistaken for a Jew) is betrayed by his wife; in each the hero is haunted by his past...

  7. two Clown Meets Cops: Comedy and Paranoia in Under the Volcano and Ulysses
    (pp. 21-40)
    Joseph C. Voelker

    At the Salón Ofélia, Geoffrey Firmin asks Cervantes for a mescal: “To drink or not to drink.—But without mescal, he imagined, he had forgotten eternity, forgotten their world’s voyage, that the earth was a ship, lashed by the Horn’s tail, doomed never to make her Valparaiso. Or that it was like a golf ball, launched at Hercules’ Butterfly, wildly hooked by a giant out of an asylum window in hell. Or that it was a bus, making its erratic journey to Tomalin and nothing. Or that it was like—whatever it would be shortly, after the next mescal” (UV...

  8. three “Well, of course, if we knew all the things”: Coincidence and Design in Ulysses and Under the Volcano
    (pp. 41-62)
    Chris Ackerley

    To begin with an absurdity: one of Jung’s more extreme examples, from his celebrated essay “Synchronicity,” the account of M. de Fortgibu and the plum-pudding:

    A certain M. Deschamps, when a boy in Orléans, was once given a piece of plum-pudding by a M. de Fortgibu. Ten years later he discovered another plum-pudding in a Paris restaurant, and asked if he could have a piece. It turned out, however, that the plum-pudding was already ordered—by M. de Fortgibu. Ten years later M. Deschamps was invited to partake of a plum-pudding as a special rarity. While he was eating it...

  9. four Ulysses and Under the Volcano: The Difficulty of Loving
    (pp. 63-83)
    Richard K. Cross

    In his masterful historical surveyThe Nature of Love, Irving Singer observes that Western attempts to understand love tend to fall into two categories. On one side are the idealizers, who try to account for affective relations chiefly in terms of mental or spiritual needs and gifts. It is this, the idealist tradition, “that Plato codifies for the first time, that Christianity amalgamates with Judaic thought, that courtly love humanizes, and that romanticism redefines in the nineteenth century” (The Nature of Love, 2:3). The stress in much, if not most, idealist thinking is on transcending the bounds between lovers—as...

  10. five Nationalism at the Bar: Anti-Semitism in Ulysses and Under the Volcano
    (pp. 84-95)
    Brian W. Shaffer

    Readers of Joyce and Lowry have for years explored structural, stylistic, linguistic, and even thematic links between the two writers’ works, and especially betweenUlyssesandUnder the Volcano, citing Lowry’s use of Joyce’s allusive method, interior monologue narration, and “spatial form.” Interestingly, one significant and neglected point of intersection betweenUlyssesandUnder the Volcanois that both novels represent and worry, anticipate or reflect, blatant acts or sentiments of anti-Semitism. More specifically, both novels critique anti-Semitic behavior as a phenomenon inextricably bound up with bogus nationalism and heavy drinking; indeed, both novels tellingly situate major anti-Semitic incidents in...

  11. six The Construction of Femininity in Ulysses and Under the Volcano: A Bakhtinian Analysis of the Late Draft Versions
    (pp. 96-108)
    Sue Vice

    This is an examination of points of comparison between the works of James Joyce and Malcolm Lowry in terms of their prepublication revisions to their central female characters: Yvonne inUnder the Volcanoand Molly Bloom inUlysses. Did Lowry and Joyce have methods of revision in common? Are these women characters affected by such revisions in similar ways? Do they become “freer” and more dialogized, in Mikhail Bakhtin’s terms, or is there a negative connection between their linguistic gender and the authors’ masculinity, the wielding of a blue pen¹ over a textual body? And finally, how do such prepublication...

  12. seven A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ultramarine: Two Exercises in Identification
    (pp. 109-125)

    The reasons for reading Joyce’sPortrait of the Artist as a Young Manand Lowry’sUltramarinetogether as twin works are obvious on various levels. Both books, describing (or fictionally rearranging) the lives of the writers as young men, can be considered autobiographical, calling into existence real worlds with names of actual places, people, and environments of personal interest to their authors.Ultramarine, the story of Dana Hilliot, recalls a first sea-voyage from Liverpool to the Eastern Seas, which Lowry made as an ordinary seaman in 1927, before he registered at St. Catharine’s College in Cambridge, England, when he was...

  13. eight Syphilisation and Its Discontents: Somatic Indications of Psychological Ills in Joyce and Lowry
    (pp. 126-144)
    Martin Bock

    “Sickness,” Dr. Vigil reflects at the beginning ofUnder the Volcano, “is not only in body, but in that part used to be call: soul” (UV5, 144). The connection between bodily disease and mental affliction preoccupied Malcolm Lowry and James Joyce throughout their writing lives, in part because they were inclined to drink—and shared what Delmore Schwartz calls a “withness of the body”—and in part because they lived with the fear of syphilis, a disease that first manifests itself in bodily lesions and was thought by the medical community of the early twentieth century to be a...

  14. nine The World as Book, the Book as Machine: Art and Life in Joyce and Lowry
    (pp. 145-158)
    Patrick A. McCarthy

    In January 1946 Malcolm Lowry sent Jonathan Cape a remarkable document: a typed, single-spaced letter of twenty-two pages that explained the design of his unpublished novel,Under the Volcano, and defended it against a reader’s recommendation that it be extensively revised and cut. At one point in the letter, Lowry conjured up the shade of James Joyce, only to dismiss Joyce’s apparent relevance to his own work, contending thatUnder the Volcanoinvolved “a simplyfying [sic] … of what originally suggested itself in far more baffling, complex and esoteric terms,” while Joyce proceeded in the opposite way in his works...

  15. ten Literary Modernism and Cinema: Two Approaches
    (pp. 159-176)
    Paul Tiessen

    Works by both Joyce and Lowry are often cited by scholars in terms of film technique. Among the many stylistic elements in novels such asUlyssesandUnder the Volcanothat invite references to cinema are the interior-monologue idiom suggesting cinematic montage and imagery suggesting photographic perspective. With the enormous growth of literature-and-film criticism in the 1960s and 1970s, Joyce’s work more than any other writer’s came into the foreground in study after study, often with particular elaborations of modernist literary techniques on the one hand, and a combination of modernist and conventional film techniques on the other. During those...

  16. eleven The Filmmaker as Critic: Huston’s Under the Volcano and The Dead
    (pp. 177-196)
    Rebecca Hughes and Kieron O’Hara

    In the last few years before he died, John Huston made films based on Malcolm Lowry’sUnder the Volcano(1984, Universal, with Albert Finney Jacqueline Bisset, and Anthony Andrews) and James Joyce’s story “The Dead” (1987, Vestron Pictures/Zenith, with Anjelica Huston and Donal McCann). Because these films were different in important ways from the original literary works, we can make discoveries about Joyce’s and Lowry’s works by comparing the originals with Huston’s adaptations. First, we will need to have a view on the originals for the purpose of comparison. Second, we will argue that these Huston films arecriticalstudies...

  17. Contributors
    (pp. 197-199)
  18. Index
    (pp. 200-208)