Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

Image of Under the Volcano

To describe his perennial theme, Lowry once borrowed the words of the critic Edmund Wilson: "the forces in man which cause him to be terrified of himself." You see exactly what he means in this coruscating novel, which traces the last 24 hours in the life of Geoffrey Firmin, once the British consul in a hellish Mexican town, now a dedicated but utterly cogent alcoholic in that same town, on a day when his ex-wife has returned in a futile attempt to reach out to him. Shadowed by the hoodlums of the corrupt local officialdom, beset by his own furies, Firmin hurtles himself, annotating his fall all the while, into a pit of suffering. A vertiginous picture of self-destruction, seen through the eyes of a man still lucid enough to report to us all the harrowing particulars.—R.L

- Time

The 94th greatest fiction book of all time


This book is on the following lists:

  1. - 3rd on 50 Books to Read Before You Die (Complex)
  2. - 4th on The 25 Favorite Books of 100 Francophone Writers (Telerama)
  3. - 7th on El Pais Favorite Books of 100 Spanish Authors (El Pais)
  4. - 11th on The Modern Library | 100 Best Novels (Modern Library)
  5. - 14th on 20th Century's Greatest Hits: 100 English-Language Books of Fiction (Larry McCaffery)
  6. - 24th on In Which These Are the 100 Greatest Novels (ThisRecording.com)
  7. - 33rd on D. G. Myers’ 50 Greatest English Language Novels (D. G. Myers)
  8. - 89th on The Novel 100: A Ranking of the Greatest Novels of All Time (The Novel 100)
  9. - 98th on The 100 Greatest British Novels (BBC)
  10. - 99th on Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century (Le Monde)
  11. - The 80 Books Every Man Should Read (Esquire)
  12. - Finest Works of Fiction (Martin Seymour-Smith and Editors)
  13. - "Best Foreign Work of Fiction" (Transfuge)
  14. - 100 Best Novels Written in English (The Guardian)
  15. - Donald Barthelme’s Reading List (Believer Mag)
  16. - TIME Magazine All Time 100 Novels (TIME Magazine)

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