Malcolm Lowry’s “Big Books,” as Reported by David Markson


From “Malcolm Lowry: A Remininiscence,” the final chapter of David Markson’s Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano, a study of Under the Volcano:

His big books, however, would at the moment remain these: Moby-DickBlue Voyage, the Grieg, Madame Bovary, Conrad (particularly The Secret Agent), O’Neill, Kafka, much of Poe, Rimbaud, and of course Joyce and Shakespeare. The Enormous Room is a favorite, as is Nightwood. Kierkegaard and Swedenborg are the philosophers most mentioned, and in another area William James and Ouspensky. Also Strindberg, Gogol, Tolstoy.

Lifting a Maupassant from the shelf (nothing has been said of the man before this): “He is a better writer than you think.”


3 thoughts on “Malcolm Lowry’s “Big Books,” as Reported by David Markson”

  1. I love Lowry so much. He makes me cry. His editing of Anna Karenina made me understand it in an entirely new way with all the villaevitches out of the way. Sounds like Hemingway prose as Tolstoy is supposed to sound. Simple, clear beautiful sentences. Anna was clearly a morphine addict if you read her with late 20th century eyes. She became paranoid, and when the passion cooled down some she found herself in a marriage with a man who was being a husband to her instead of a lover. Tristan and Iseult. You are not supposed to marry Iseult. And his books of sailing, the one with the elephant in it going to the London zoo that he visited 10 years later, who remembered him. His wife, that sea journey where the boat is in a storm and in trouble. Losing all his manuscripts in a fire. Oh I love him so.


      1. I know who Lowry was, and I would use the first two sentences in the same manner that seymourblogger intended.

        “How could he have thought so evil of the world when succour was at hand the whole time?”

        (twitter) @malcolmlowry


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