Malcolm Lowry

British writer

Malcolm Lowry (28 July 190926 June 1957) was an English poet and novelist best known for his novel Under the Volcano.

Plaque to writer Malcolm Lowry on the sea wall on Ian Fraser Walk behind Home & Bargain, New Brighton.



Page numbers without annotation are from the following edition: New American Library, 1971, LCC 65-11640. Page numbers annotated with an asterisk are from the Penguin Classics edition, ISBN-13: 978-0-14-118225-4.

  • No se puede vivir sin amar.
    • Translation: You can´t live without loving.
    • Ch. I (p. 6)
  • Though tragedy was in the process of becoming unreal and meaningless it seemed one was still permitted to remember the days when an individual life held some value and was not a mere misprint in a communiqué.
    • Ch. I (*p. 11)
  • There was no mistaking, even in the uncertain light, the hand, half crabbed, half generous, and wholly drunken, of the Consul himself, the Greek e’s, the flying buttresses of d’s, the t’s like lonely wayside crosses save where they crucified an entire word.
    • Ch. I (p. 35)
  • The howling pariah dogs, the cocks that herald dawn all night, the drumming, the moaning that will be found later white plumage huddled on telegraph wires in back gardens or fowl roosting in apple trees, the eternal sorrow that never sleeps of great Mexico.
    • Ch. I (p. 35)
  • And this is how I sometimes think of myself, as a great explorer who has discovered some extraordinary land from which he can never return to give his knowledge to the world: but the name of this land is hell.
    • Ch. I (p. 36)
  • What beauty can compare to that of a cantina in the early morning?
    • Ch. II (p. 49)
  • For a time they confronted each other like two mute unspeaking forts.
    • Ch. III (p. 75)
  • How shall the murdered man convince his assassin he will not haunt him.
    • Ch. III (p. 79)
  • But my lord, Yvonne, surely you know by this time I can’t get drunk however much I drink.
    • Ch. III (p. 85)
  • Nothing in the world was more terrible than an empty bottle! Unless it was an empty glass.
    • Ch. III (p. 86)
  • The will of man is unconquerable. Even God cannot conquer it.
    • Ch. III (*p. 97)
  • There was something in the wild strength of this landscape, once a battlefield, that seemed to be shouting at him, a presence born of that strength whose cry his whole being recognized as familiar, caught and threw back into the wind, some youthful passage of courage and pride — the passionate, yet so nearly always hypocritical, affirmation of one’s soul perhaps, he thought, of the desire to be, to do, good, what was right.
    • Ch. IV (p. 124)
  • In the final analysis there was no one you could trust to drink with you to the bottom of the bowl.
    • Ch. V (*p. 147)
  • He had peered out at the garden, and it was as though bits of his eyelids had broken off and were flittering and jittering before him, turning into nervous shapes and shadows, jumping to the guilty chattering in his mind, not quite voices yet, but they were coming back, they were coming back; a picture of his soul as a town appeared once more before him, but this time a town ravaged and stricken in the black path of his excess and shutting his burning eyes he had thought of the beautiful functioning of the system in those who were truly alive, switches connected, nerves rigid only in real danger, and in nightmareless sleep now calm, not resting, yet poised: a peaceful village.
    • Ch. V (*p. 148)
  • In the war to come correspondents would assume unheard of importance, plunging through flame to feed the public its little gobbets of dehydrated excrement.
    • Ch. VI (*p. 157)
  • Yes, I do love you, I have all the love in the world left for you, only that love seems so far away from me and so strange too, for it is as though I could almost hear it, a droning or weeping, but far, far away, and a sad lost sound, it might be either approaching or receding, I can’t tell which.
    • Ch. VII (*p. 200)
  • And how could he know whether it was a good omen or not without another drink?
    • Ch. VII (*p. 201)
  • There was no callousness in their faces, no cruelty. Death they knew, better than the law, and their memories were long. They sat ranked now, motionless, frozen, discussing nothing, without a word, turned to stone. It was natural to have left the matter to the men. And yet, in these old women it was as if, through the various tragedies of Mexican history, pity, the impulse to approach, and terror, the impulse to escape (as one had learned at college), having replaced it, had finally been reconciled by prudence, the conviction it is better to stay where you are.
    • Ch. VIII (pp. 248-249)
  • The poor old creature seemed now indeed like someone being drawn, lured, into events of which he has no real comprehension, by people with whom he wishes to be friendly, even to play, who entice him by encouraging that wish and by whom, because they really despise and desire to humilate him, he is finally entangled.
    • Ch. IX (*p. 259)
  • What is man but a little soul holding up a corpse?
    • Ch. X (p. 287)
  • Suddenly he saw them, the bottles of aguardiente, of anís, of jerez, of Highland Queen, the glasses, a babel of glasses—towering, like the smoke from the train that day—built to the sky, then falling, the glasses toppling and crashing, falling downhill from the Generalife Gardens, the bottles breaking, bottles of Oporto, tinto, blanco, bottles of Pernod, Oxygènée, absinthe, bottles smashing, bottles cast aside, falling with a thud on the ground in parks, under benches, beds, cinema seats, hidden in drawers at Consulates, bottles of Calvados dropped and broken, or bursting into smithereens, tossed into garbage heaps, flung into the sea, the Mediterranean, the Caspian, the Caribbean, bottles floating in the ocean, dead Scotchmen on the Atlantic highlands—and now he saw them, smelt them, all, from the very beginning—bottles, bottles, bottles, and glasses, glasses, glasses, of bitter, of Dubonnet, of Falstaff, Rye, Johnny Walker, Vieux Whiskey blanc Canadien, the apéritifs, the digestifs, the demis, the dobles, the noch ein Herr Obers, the et glas Araks, the tusen taks, the bottles, the bottles, the beautiful bottles of tequila, and the gourds, gourds, gourds, the millions of gourds of beautiful mescal . . .
    • Ch. X (p. 292)
  • God, how pointless and empty the world is! Days filled with cheap and tarnished moments succeed each other, restless and haunted nights follow in bitter routine: the sun shines without brightness, and the moon rises without light.
    • Ch. XII (p. 346)
  • I want your life filling and stirring me. I want your happiness beneath my heart and your sorrows in my eyes and your peace in the fingers of my hand.
    • Ch. XII (p. 346)
  • I wake to a darkness in which I must follow myself endlessly, hating the I who so eternally pursues and confronts me. If we could rise from our misery, seek each other once more, and find again the solace of each other’s lips and eyes.
    • Ch. XII (p. 346)
  • How alike are the groans of love, to those of the dying.
    • Ch. XII (p. 351)
  • "What for you lie?" the Chief of Rostrums repeated in a glowering voice. "You say your name is Black. No es Black." He shoved him backwards toward the door. "You say you are a wrider." He shoved him again. "You no are a wrider." He pushed the Consul more violently, but the Consul stood his ground. "You are no a de wrider, you are de espider, and we shoota de espiders in Méjico."
    • Ch. XII (p. 371)
  • "Christ," he remarked, puzzled, "this is a dingy way to die."
    • Ch. XII (p. 373)