Under the Volcano

By Malcolm Lowry
Read by John Lee

14.83 Hours 04/07/2009 unabridged
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On the Day of the Dead, 1938, former British consul Geoffrey Firmin is in Quauhnahuac, Mexico, where his life has become overshadowed by the debilitating malaise of drinking. His wife, Yvonne, has just arrived on a mission to rescue their failing marriage, inspired by a vision of a life together away from Mexico and the circumstances that have driven their relationship to the brink of collapse. But Yvonne’s mission is further complicated by the presence of the consul’s half-brother, Hugh, and Jacques, a childhood friend. Geoffrey, for his part, knows he must stop drinking in order to function efficiently, but at the same time he cannot function efficiently without drinking. He both loves and despises Yvonne, simultaneously wants to flee Mexico and stay under the two smoking volcanoes. The events of this one day unfold against the unforgettable backdrop of a Mexico at once magical and diabolical. A modern classic, Under the Volcano is a powerful and lyrical statement on the human condition and one man’s constant struggle against the elemental forces that threaten to destroy him.

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Summary

Summary

A Wall Street Journal Pick for 5 Best Novels of Despair

One of Time Magazine's Best 100 English-Language Novels from 1923–2005

On the Day of the Dead, 1938, former British consul Geoffrey Firmin is in Quauhnahuac, Mexico, where his life has become overshadowed by the debilitating malaise of drinking. His wife, Yvonne, has just arrived on a mission to rescue their failing marriage, inspired by a vision of a life together away from Mexico and the circumstances that have driven their relationship to the brink of collapse. But Yvonne’s mission is further complicated by the presence of the consul’s half-brother, Hugh, and Jacques, a childhood friend. Geoffrey, for his part, knows he must stop drinking in order to function efficiently, but at the same time he cannot function efficiently without drinking. He both loves and despises Yvonne, simultaneously wants to flee Mexico and stay under the two smoking volcanoes. The events of this one day unfold against the unforgettable backdrop of a Mexico at once magical and diabolical. A modern classic, Under the Volcano is a powerful and lyrical statement on the human condition and one man’s constant struggle against the elemental forces that threaten to destroy him.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“A Faustian masterpiece.” Anthony Burgess
“One of the towering novels of [the twentieth] century.” New York Times
“[Lowry’s] masterpiece…has a claim to being regarded as one of the ten most consequential works of fiction produced in this century…It reflects the special genius of Lowry, a writer with a poet’s command of the language and a novelist’s capacity to translate autobiographical details into a universal statement.” Los Angeles Times
“The puzzle the book presents has been unlocked many times over the years, but, as is the case with all great works of art, Volcano inspires and absorbs legion interpretations. It can be read as an overtly political, religious, mystical or philosophical novel. It is about damnation, or fascism, or love. It is a tragedy and, at times, a comedy (its flashes of humour are too often ignored). Its metaphors and symbols can be studied and catalogued, but their meanings seem to shift as they recur, or when they are returned to on re-reading. The book refuses to take definitive shape. It is so elaborate that, in a sense, it lives.” Guardian (London)
“John Lee’s evocative reading of Lowry’s classic tale of delusion and drunkenness admirably explicates the stream-of-consciousness narrative and steers the shifts of perspective in this portrait of hopelessness on the eve of WWII. Lee’s seamless transitions from English to Spanish to bits of French and German, coupled with his ability to mimic the upper-class English speech of Geoffrey and Hugh Firmin, the protagonist and his brother, make this a remarkable listening experience. Death hangs over the Mexican landscape like a shroud, and this audiobook evokes the magic and mystery, hope and despair of three intersecting characters—the brothers Firmin and Geoffrey’s former wife, an American film star named Yvonne—on the Day of the Dead in Mexico in 1938.” AudioFile
“[Under the Volcano] obviously belongs with the most original and creative novels of our time.” Alfred Kazin, literary critic

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Malcolm Lowry

Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957) was born in England and attended Cambridge University. He spent much of his life traveling and lived in Paris, New York, Mexico, Los Angeles, and Italy, among other places. He is the author of numerous works, including Ultramarine and Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Fiction
Runtime: 14.83
Audience: Adult
Language: English