News
 International
   Global Views
   Asia-Pacific
   America
   Europe
   Middle East & Africa
 National
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Business
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Taekwondo
 Media
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Life
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Housing
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 Job
 English Teaching
 Translation/Writing
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Business
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Entertainment
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Community
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 PenPal/Friendship
 Volunteers
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  America
Letters from America
Great Art of Suffering — Degenerate Life of Genius, Vagabond Writer, Malcolm Lowry
By Greg Evans
Special Correspondent
Malcolm Lowry (1909–1957)
The story starts in the city of Cuernavaca, once an ancient collection of dusty cantinas, brothels, gambling dens, and Catholic churches sitting perilously between the alternating shadows of two dormant volcanoes. If ever there was a place for a legendary alcoholic to drink himself into oblivion, Cuernavaca was it. In the late 1930s there was just such a man—a tormented literary genius expatriate from England named Malcolm Lowry.

Lowry arrived in the old conquistador stronghold presumably to drink himself to death in lieu of enduring the dying embers of a marriage, the onset of melancholy, and a disassociation from his conservative English roots. His father owned a successful business where his brother worked and where there was a position waiting for him.

However, while holding on for dear life to each tragedy taking pace in his life in Mexico, he instead recorded the beginnings of one of the world’s greatest novels. His travel itinerary is fairly well documented—England to Mexico to Los Angeles to Canada—eventually finding his way back to England where he would die as he lived, drunk, distressed, ribald and theatrical. Lowry lived by his own code, his own set of standards, whatever they might have been.

He was the first modern anti-authority rebel, the father of the counter-culture that sprang up so prevalently in places like Greenwich Village and Haight-Ashbury. Lowry was a bedeviled soul and when he was lucid enough to put pen to paper, created some of the world’s most beloved literature. His magnum opus was Under the Volcano, a semi-autobiographical novel published in 1947. This writing was begun while Lowry was living in squalor in Mexico drinking copious amounts of booze, and living on the fringes of society. He was the F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hunter S. Thompson of his day. He set the bar for self-loathing, depravity and self-abuse and it resonated with the reading public. It was romantic and frightening, savage and unpredictable.

The novel told the story of Geoffry Firmin, a British consul and alcoholic, on the Day of the Dead, November 2, 1938, a holiday of prayer celebrated by the family and friends of people who have died. The novel is twelve chapters, representing the twelve hours of the waking day, the story beginning in the morning and culminating with the finale in the evening. It takes place in the Mexican pueblo of Quauhnahuac.

His early attempts to find a publisher for the novel in the early 1940s were met with crude rejection. It wasn’t his first novel but it was the one that mattered, and Lowry knew it even if the editors and publishers didn’t. Instead of starting something new he rewrote and rewrote. He was searching for what all geniuses search for and that is personal perfection and success on his terms, by way of a self-belief, that hung heavy on his shoulders for his entire life.

Cuernavaca gave him the backdrop and provided him with scenes and unlimited characters and details. It was all there and he recognized it. Somehow, despite the haze of vice, he put it all into an order so astounding that today the novel is hailed as a seminal work and listed as one of the top 100 novels of all-time.

One may surmise that the evolution of a tormented rock-star, literary guru, even athlete can be directly or indirectly attributed to the same characteristics as Lowry— pioneering proficiency with vice, self-destruction, and self-promotion of aggrandizement. Malcolm Lowry’s alcohol dependency was nearly as famous as his novel. There is no person in the history of modern expression that epitomized the great art of suffering more than he did in terms of the manipulation of his vices. There are others that have tried to challenge him for the title including Hunter S. Thompson, Kurt Cobain, Malcolm Owen, Jean-Michel Basquiat and William S. Burroughs, to name a few, and though they each came close—traveling in excess along their own grungy
avenues of suffering— they didn’t quite make it into Lowry’s gutter.

Malcolm Lowry was a person who not only encapsulated the tormented genius label, he worked to perfect the great art of suffering. He was a true free spirit who continued with his vices, reveled in them, and took great delight in his style of living—that of wretchedness and degradation. For fans of incredible literature, we are profusely thankful that he danced to the seedy beat of his own drum.



Related Articles
    I Could Tell by the Way Lalisa Looked at Me ...
    The Dreaded Slump
    An Evening in Savannah
    A Successful Life Is There for the Taking!
    The Millennial's Guide to a Successful ...
    The Zen of Blackpink
    The Mayan Predictions Were Spot On!
    Confessions of a Single Dad -- I Lost the ...
    Blurred Highway
    How You Too Can Overcome Depression and ...
    Ghost Sightings Around Mooresville Predate ...
    No Place Better to Spend Autumn Evenings than ...
    Poking a Hornets Nest -- A Carolina Beach ...
    First-Ever Filipino Restaurant Experience, And ...
    Pfizer Vaccine Approved by FDA in America
    The Blurred Highway
    The Speed Trap -- A Cash Register for Small ...
    What Glitters Truly Is Gold -- Through the ...
    There Is Buzz with Elon Musk -- Will Dogecoin ...
    Inside Africa -- A Missionary’s Work in ...
    A Night of Celebration -- 4th of July and a ...
    Miami Building Collapse -- Possible Flaw in ...
    Building Collapses in Miami, Florida, Leaving ...
    Color Blindness in a Colorful World
    Lake Norman, the Great Energy Vortex
    The Great Hostage Hoax
    A Little Bit of Laos -- A Culinary Adventure
    Anti-Asian Attacks an Ongoing Problem
    By the Grace of God -- The Cylk Cozart Story
    Eli Broad, Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at ...
    Clutch Coffee Bar Expanding to Florida
    Ten Years Later: Chris Hondros Honored by ...
    Local Charlotte Boutique Is Turning Heads
    Sailing on Lake Norman without a Rudder
    Zen and the Art of Ziplining at Lake Norman
    The Proper Etiquette for Street Fighting in ...
    The Silent Voices -- A Look inside the Work ...
    A Yankee in Dixie
    First Hiking Experience, Lake Norman -- Where ...
    Who Is the Bigger Band, the Beatles or BTS?
    Misogynism Within the Gaming Community
    When Has It Gone Too Far -- the Illicit Affair!
    The Camping Experience! Well Eventually ...
    Taken from Jurassic Park and Put into ...
    10 Most Irritating Bad Driver Behaviors
    Throw Me a Bone -- What in the World Is a ...
    Charlotte, North Carolina's South End ...


Greg Evans, associate director of communications of King University in Bristol TN, in the US, serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul Times. The seasoned journalist has been writing for such papers as the Mooresville Tribune, Lake Norman Citizen, the Bristol Herald Courier, and the Sentinel-Progress (Easley, SC). He can be reached at gaevans1@king.edu

 

back

 

 

 

The Seoul Times, Shinheung-ro 36ga-gil 24-4, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 82-10-6606-6188 Email:seoultimes@gmail.com
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange