Sunday, 26 April 2009

New Brighton 1920's

New Brighton was not only where Lowry was born but was the place he returned to in his teenage years to have fun.

His novel Ultramarine has many references to New Brighton. Many of these references relate to his teenage romance with Tess Evans (Janet Travena in the novel) who lived in nearby Liscard. Lowry may have met Tess for the first time in New Brighton at one of the many dance halls, cinemas or theatres which existed in the town during the 1920's.

The above clip of film from a documentary on the history of New Brighton brings to life some of the places mentioned by Lowry in Ultramarine:

New Brighton Bank Holiday
Thousands of children at New Brighton, on a Bank Holiday, making for the sands with their pails and shovels.. Ultramarine Pg 43

New Brighton Palais de Danse
I shut my eyes and imagined that this was indeed Janet and I dancing at the New Brighton Palais De Danse. Ultramarine Pg 106

New Brighton Town Gardens (Tower Gardens)
The two figures, the girl with the brown eyes in the school blazer and white skirt. Janet Travena and her lover slowly walk through the afternoon sunlight. Halfway down the Town Gardens, he pauses to light his pipe. Ultramarine Pg 130

Also in the clip, during the sequence relating to Harrison Drive, you get a glimpse on the horizon of houses on the cliff above Warren Drive where Lowry was born.

The above clip is part of a longer documentary which you can view in segments on Youtube.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Bernard Lubat Ode To Malcolm Lowry

French groovy jazz on the mythic label Pierre Cardin, featuring Bernard Lubat, Eddy Louiss, Claude Engel and others. Includes the excellent Pappy Thomas and his duck vocals, and the nice Au bon livre (Ode to Malcolm Lowry) . Great album with a fantastic cover ! Notice that "Shouare" and "Pappy Thomas" have been released on a 7"

Listen to a snippet here.

Read more about Bernard Lubat on Wikipedia:

Il a étudié au Conservatoire de Bordeaux, puis à Paris. Engagé par l'orchestre de Jef Gilson, il accompagne des vedettes de variété. Il joue et travaille avec Jean-Luc Ponty, Michel Portal, Martial Solal, Eddy Louiss, et aussi Stan Getz. Il a également chanté dans le groupe les Double-Six, comme Eddy Louis d'ailleurs. Il joue aussi de la musique contemporaine, Varèse, Xenakis, Berio. Il participe activement à l'expérience du free-jazz. Il est un multi-instrumentiste de talent capable de jouer dans tous les contextes imaginables, du bal populaire au studio (il se définit lui-même comme un « malpoli-instrumentiste »). Il exerce ses talents principalement sur la batterie et le piano mais aussi à l'accordéon, au vibraphone, aux percussions et au chant (c'est un redoutable scateur). Il accompagna longtemps Claude Nougaro puis fonda le Festival d'Uzeste en 1977, et La compagnie Lubat, qui sera un orchestre d'accueil de nombreux musiciens (André Minvielle).

Malcolm Lowry en México

This DVD was new to me:

El día de Nochebuena de 1944 Malcolm Lowry puso el punto final a Bajo el volcán, casi ocho años después de haberla concebido. Este hecho le causó, según él mismo lo cuenta, “una extraña alegría”. No era para menos; por segunda y última vez en su vida había logrado concluir una narración extensa; pero, sobre todo, había logrado (no sé si él lo sabía, aunque probablemente lo intuía) escribir una de las obras maestras del siglo XX. Ambiciosa, compleja, bella, oscura, trágica, densa, romántica, jocosa, mágica, mística, religiosa, simbólica, realista, alegórica. Todos estos adjetivos, y seguramente algunos otros que se me han escapado, ajustan a la novela, y aún así, Bajo el volcán es algo más. Quizá el adjetivo que mejor cuadre con la obra, porque de alguna forma resume a todos los mencionados, es el de poética. En Bajo el volcán, Lowry logra plenamente con su prosa lo que no pudo conseguir con sus versos: hacer de su experiencia vital un hermoso poema (Francisco Rebolledo). Y ahora, cuarenta años después aquélla Quauhnahuac y aquél tiempo “paradisíaco e infernal” reviven en un filme espléndido, cuya poesía “infernal y paradisíaca” emerge de las imágenes fulgurantes de una ciudad silenciosa y de una naturaleza bronca (Manuel Aguilar de la Torre).

Buy the DVD here:

Malcolm Lowry Walk

Check out more photos of Dollarton from Stephen Rees on Flickr.

David Roberts: Lowry At Dollarton

Check out more of David Roberts's work here:


David Roberts has been in touch to tell me:

Dear Mr Dilnot,

Thanks for putting up my painting on your blog. I recently sold that piece to a collector in Canada. There's a story, possibly apocryphal, that after Lowry lost the manuscript to Under the Volcano in the fire at his shack at Dollarton, he was left that night with nothing to do but to stare disconsolately across the Fraser River at the Shell Oil refinery on the other side of the water. But the letter S had burnt out from the flashing giant Shell sign. So that all Lowry could see flashing at him in the darkness from across the river were the repeating red letters: 'hell' ... 'hell' ... 'hell'. At least that's the story as I remember it from a documentary I saw many years ago by the National Film Board of Canada. That snippet of remembrance was the inspiration for the painting.

Yours truly,

David Roberts


Find out more about the drink that permeates Lowry's Under The Volcano from beginning to end:

The famous rumours about mezcal didn’t start in the Aztec times (yup, it’s been known to be consumed since then!) but rather became famous due to the famed 1930’s novel by Malcolm Lowry on alcoholism called ‘Under the Volcano’. It described mezcal as capable of inducing gruesome hallucinations upon drinking, though this has never been proven. A lot of bad stuff is also said about mezcal because it is common for tourists to get fleeced in Mexico while buying a cheap bottle of mezcal, only to end up with a smelly and funny tasting drink that leaves one nasty hangover. However the most known “fact” about mezcal is the ‘Worm’. Today it’s impossible to separate mezcal from the worm image. Read more here

Tom Burrow's Bridge Walk 1970

Lowry has inspired many artists including Tom Burrows. The above is a photo of Burrow's 1970 work:

Bridge Walk a.k.a. The Return of Malcolm Lowry

Date: Oct. 15 1970, evening rush hour.

Medium: the sculptor.

Pedestal: the bridge.

Duration: the length of time to cross the bridge, walking briskly to the North.

Audience: random spectators traveling in vehicles (necessarily brief glances forwards, sideways and then through the rear window).

Historical Context: Since its opening in 1960 the second Narrows Bridge, with constricted linearity and regimented speed of transit, was the major artery from the urban core of Vancouver to the amorphous open nature of the north shore tidal flats. Burrows (the sculptor) moved into a self-built squatter cabin on the north shore Maple Wood tidal flats in June of 1969. The same career municipal employee who bulldozed Malcolm Lowry’s squatter home on a tidal area adjacent to the Maple Wood flats in 1954, organized the burning of the Burrows cabin in Dec. 1971.

P.S. Lowry’s first squatter cabin burned in 1944 incinerating the fourth draft of Under the Volcano.

Check out more on Tom Burrows here.

Mexico Book Club

Malcolm Lowry, 1953 etching by Jorge Martínez García

Check out the Mexico Book Club dedicated to books about Mexico and much more.

The site contains an article on Lowry by John Simon:

"Written first as a short story—which it probably should have remained—it was rewritten several times as a novel with the obsessive tenacity of a megalomaniacal sot who was going to spawn a masterwork if it killed him and all those who cared for and about him." Read more

Siegfried Woldhek's Lowry

Check out Siegfried Woldhek's site containing many sketches of writers including the above of Malcolm Lowry.

Woldhek says:

What does a dreamcatcher do? Make ideas palpable. I see a lot. I create visions and give those concrete forms in drawings and new organizations

The Passive Volcano

Yet another post on a website called The Maggot Farm made me smile this PM. The site is dedicated to writing style and the blogger offers an interesting take on Under The Volcano!

Lowry's Under The Volcano Acted Out In Purdee University 2007

Here is another funny reference to Lowry's Consul from a bunch of college kids at Purdee University who were studying Lowry's Under The Volcano as part of their course.

Check out more photos here as they re-encated the book

Ford Consul

I smiled when I saw this reference to Lowry's Consul in a post about the classic British Ford car. My brother bought a bright yellow one before he could drive. He used to proudly sit in it on my parent's drive having invited his friends over to join in the "ride".

Here is what the site had to say:

This is Down On The Street Bonus Edition, where we check out interesting street-parked cars located in places other than the Island That Rust Forgot. Having just read Gordon Bowker's excellent Malcolm Lowry biography, Pursued By Furies, I can't see the word "Consul" without the quasi-autobiographical character of that name in Lowry's masterpiece coming to mind. That's why I imagine this '58 Ford Consul locked in a 50-year downward spiral of ethanol abuse, swilling whatever the Thai equivalent of mescal might be. We also get some bonus cars: an Alfa Giulia Spider and some sort of ancient Mazda wagon. Make the jump to see and read more, and thanks to Arco for sending in these shots!

Under The Volcano Festival Of Art & Social Change August 9th 2009

Under The Volcano Festival Of Art & Social Change is an activist, grassroots gathering held at Whey-Ah-Wichen Cates Park on the traditional territory of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver, BC every August. Under the Volcano is Canada's largest political arts festival and is 100% volunteer produced. The festival takes its name from the well-known book of the same name by Malcolm Lowry, who squatted in Cates Park in the 1940s.

The festival was started in 1990 by Vancouver social activist and artist Irwin Oostindie, and has been produced since its beginning by a dedicated group of volunteers. UTV has featured a number of high profile activists and entertainers in its 17 years of existence, including: Ward Churchill, Faith Nolan, Kinnie Starr, Kathleen Yearwood, Aztlan Underground, and Lourdes Perez.

Here is an interesting article from the Discorder website about the 2004 festival by Elle James:

In the 1940’s, Malcolm Lowry penned his novel Under the Volcano while living in a squatters shack at the water’s edge in Dollarton, BC. The spot was called Whey–ah–Wichen, “facing the wind” and is now know as Cates Park. The park has been a gathering place for 3,000 years: the Tsleil–Waututh First Nation used it as their summer camp, and thousands of hippies gathered there in the ‘70s for music and arts festivals. Some twenty years later, the Under the Volcano festival would begin there, named in respect for the counter–culture heritage of the site, and the long history of artists, squatters, and First Nations using the forested land

On Sunday August 8th, the park will host the 15th annual Under the Volcano, bringing together 8,000 people in a non–corporate cultural event to celebrate art, music and progressive politics. Fifteen years ago, the first UTV event brought in 300 people. As Meegan Maultsaid, a long–term participant in the UTV collective says, “We must be doing something right.”

Along with Meegan, I talked with Irwin Oostindie, the festival’s founder, and asked them how it all began. In 1988 Irwin helped to start a non–profit society called Youth Art Works, opening up youth–run arts centres in North Vancouver and Gastown. They soon discovered that gig production fees were exorbitant, and organised an outdoor protest gig to demand better access to community spaces. Irwin saw how easy it was to organise an outdoor gig, and made the move to formalize this into an outdoor youth music festival in a park
.Read more here.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Malcolm Lowry Centenary International Conference July 23-25 2009

Malcolm Lowry
Centenary International Conference

July 23-25, 2009
The University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Keynote Speakers

Professor Sherrill Grace, Department of English, The University of British Columbia.Prof. Grace is the author of numerous seminal works on Lowry, including Satan in a Barrel: Malcolm Lowry's Early Stories (1999); Sursum Corda: The Collected Letters of Malcolm Lowry (2 vols. 1995 & 1996); Swinging the Maelstrom: New Perspectives on Malcolm Lowry (1992); and The Voyage That Never Ends: Malcolm Lowry's Fiction (1987). Other monographs include Regression and Apocalypse: Studies in North American Literary Expressionism (1989), Canada and the Idea of North (2002), and Inventing Tom Thomson: From Biographical Fictions to Fictional Autobiographies (2004).

Professor Paul Tiessen, Department of English and Film Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University.Prof. Tiessen, founding editor of The Malcolm Lowry Newsletter and The Malcolm Lowry Review, has written numerous articles on Lowry and is the editor or co-editor of A Darkness that Murmured: Essays on Malcolm Lowry and the Twentieth Century (2000); Joyce/Lowry: Critical Perspectives (1997); The 1940 Under the Volcano (1994); The Cinema of Malcolm Lowry: A Scholarly Edition of Lowry's Tender Is the Night (1990); Apparently Incongruous Parts: The Worlds of Malcolm Lowry (1990); and The Letters of Malcolm Lowry and Gerald Noxon, 1940-1952 (1988).



7:30 – 9:00: Registration

9:00 – 10:00: Panel 1. Mexico, Liverpool, Vancouver

Annick Drösdal-Levillain (Université de Strasbourg): “Malcolm Lowry: From Liverpool to Vancouver in the Twinkle of an Eye”

Ryan Rashotte (University of Guelph): “National/Narratological Agency and ‘The Machinery of La Mordida”

10:30 – 12:00: Panel 2. Lowry and Media

Michael Romer (Edinburgh): “Lowry’s Influence on Orcadian Filmmaker Margaret Tait”

William Hagen (Oklahoma Baptist University): “Scenes from the ‘Films’ of Malcolm Lowry”

Chris Ackerley (University of Otago): “Under the Volcano: From Novel to Opera”

12:00 – 1:00: Lunch

1:00 – 2:30: Panel 3. The Short Stories

Sarah Banting (University of British Columbia): “Alone Across the Border: Audience and Geography in ‘The Bravest Boat’”

Jonathan Morissette (University of British Columbia): “Elephants and Volcanoes: Memory, Multiplicity, and Reading Oneself in Malcolm Lowry’s Fiction”

Claude Maisonnat (Université Lumière-Lyon 2): “A Silent Rebuke Administered with Dignity: The Unsteady Textual Voice in ‘Elephant and Colosseum’”

3:00 – 4:30: Keynote Speaker

Paul Tiessen (Wilfrid Laurier University): “’Grandmama would like to see Intolerance again’: Malcolm Lowry, Literary Modernism, and a Million Moviegoers”

6:00 – 8:00: Film

8:00 - : Dinner/Free time


9:00 – 10:00: Panel 4. Lowry and Poetry

Anne C. Magnan-Park (Indiana University): “The Poet Invites the Storm: A Study of
Malcolm Lowry’s Unexplored Poems”

Christine Texier-Vandamme ( ): Under the Volcano and Jakobson’s ‘poetic writing’”

10:30 – 11:30: Panel 5. Special Topic

Chris Ackerley (University of Otago): “Lowry on the Web”

11:30 – 1:00: Lunch

1:00 – 2:30: Panel 6. Lowry, Bakhtin, Genette, Debord

Ailsa Cox (Edge Hill University): “Soundscapes in Lunar Caustic”

Charlotte Nobles (University of British Columbia): “Authoritative Discourse and Layered Diegesis in Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano”

Mark Goodall (University of Bradford): “Under the Volcano … the Beach: Malcolm
Lowry and the Situationists”

3:00 – 4:30: Panel 7. Lowry and the Contemporary French Novel

Special panel sponsored by the Government of France.


Arno Bertina

Patrick Deville

Olivier Rolin

7:00 - : Banquet


9:00 – 10:00: Panel 8. Lowry, Folklore, Myth

Charles Hoge (Metropolitan State College of Denver): “Phantom Priapuss: An Exploration of the Distorted Phantom Dog Tradition in Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano”

Nigel H. Foxcroft (University of Brighton): “Souls and Shamans: The Cosmopolitan Psychology of Malcolm Lowry

10:30 – 12:00: Panel 9. The Volcano

Mathieu Duplay (Université Lille 3): “Pathologies of Knowledge: David Markson, Under the Volcano, and the Experience of Thought”

Charity Matthews (University of British Columbia): Geographical Memory and Construction in Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano”

Josiane Paccaud-Huguet (Université Lumière-Lyon 2): “Varieties of Gaze in Under the Volcano”

12:00 – 1:00: Lunch

1:00 – 2:30: Panel 10. Lowry Smorgasbord

Alberto Rebollo (Mexico): “Under the Spell of the Volcano: Lowry and His Interdimensional Life”

Pierre Schaeffer (Université de Strasbourg): “’The Forest Path to the Spring,” or Malcolm Lowry’s Exercise in Literary Homothetics”

Victor Doyen (Belgium): “The Jan Gabrial Papers”

3:00 – 4:30: Keynote Speaker

Sherrill Grace (University of British Columbia): “’Do you remember?’: War and the Landscape of Memory in Under the Volcano”

6:00 - : Trip to Dollarton

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Graham Collier Day Of The Dead

Graham Collier Part 3 Day Of The Dead

Graham Collier is an English jazz bandleader and composer. He began playing trumpet in northern England and later worked in bands for the British Army. In 1961 he received a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music and would be the first British student to graduate from the school. He is best known as a bandleader and has been one since 1964. His first band was the Graham Collier Ensemble, which toured from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Graham Collier's The Day of the Dead is an hour long suite for narrator and full band. The suite was commissioned by The Ilkley Literature Festival, 1977. The piece uses words from Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano, Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend Is Laid, Forest Path to the Spring, and The Collected Letters of Malcolm Lowry.The suite features the voice of John Carbery, with a band including Harry Beckett, Henry Lowther, Art Themen, Alan Wakeman, Malcolm Griffiths, Ed Speight, Roger Dean and Roy Babbington. The suite was first issued on double LP by Mosaic in 1977, and on double CD, with some additional material, by Disconforme in 2001. The Tracks: The Day of the Dead & October Ferry, Triptych, Eridanus and Quanahuac were added for the double CD.

Graham Collier gave a talk called Lowry, Jazz and ‘The Day of the Dead’ at the 1987 International Malcolm Lowry Symposium held at the University of British Columbia, Canada. It was later published in 'Swinging the Maelstrom', New Perspectives on Malcolm Lowry, edited by Sherrill Grace:

Malcolm Lowry has said that he 'learnt to write while listening to Bix Beiderbecke,' and he once spoke of trying to write a new kind of novel - 'something that is bald and winnowed, like Sibelius, and that makes an odd but splendid din, like Bix Beiderbecke' (SL, 28). Lowry's favourite jazz musicians were undoubtedly Beiderbecke, a white trumpeter of German extraction whose lyrical style was highly influential, Joe Venuti, one of the few violinists in jazz, Venuti's partner, guitarist Eddie Lang, and saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer. All worked at various times in Paul Whiteman's orchestra, but there is no significance in that or in Lowry's apparent liking for white musicians. (Other names that appear in Lowry's work or letters are Red Nichols, Benny Goodman, and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France with Django Reinhardt.) Lowry's selection of favourite musicians is presumably accidental, formed through listening to the limited number of records available in his time, particularly in England. Lowry's strong interest in the guitar would naturally have led him to Eddie Lang, and through Lang to Venuti, Beiderbecke, and Trumbauer. Read the complete talk here

You can still buy copies of the CD directly from Graham Collier.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Jack Bruce The Consul At Sunset

I must admit that I had completely forgotten that Jack Bruce recorded this song. The inspiration for this song was Lowry's novel Under the Volcano , telling the story of Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic British consul in the small Mexican town of Quauhnahuac (recognizably Cuernavaca), on the Day of the Dead in 1938. When I first heard this back in 1971, I had no idea of the references because I was yet to discover Malcolm Lowry.

The song features Jack Bruce on vocals, bass, piano, organ, cellos; Chris Spedding: Guitars and John Marshall: Percussion. The words to the song were written by Pete Brown. The track was produced by Jack Bruce, recorded in January 1971 at Command Studios, London and was issued on the album Harmony Row as well as coming out on 45.

When he walks from the consul at sunset Barely remembers his name Walk is a little unsteady, sadly But he knows most of all that he's living beneath the volcano Won't be so many more days Isn't muc...
When he walks from the consul at sunset
Barely remembers his name
Walk is a little unsteady, sadly
But he knows most of all that he's living beneath the volcano
Won't be so many more days
Isn't much time and it's gathering darkness, my friend

He's been going too far in his drinking
Running a little too fat
Eyelids becoming so heavy, sadly
But he tries not to sleep while he's living beneath the volcano
Won't be so many more days
Isn't much time and it's gathering darkness, my friend

Though the fireflies laugh in the dusklight
It's the Festival of Death
Crowd is all laughter, it's hollow, sadly
They may kill death tonight, but they still live beneath the volcano
Won't be so many more days
Isn't much time and it's gathering darkness, my friend.

Eddie Lang

Malcolm Lowry had a life long love of jazz music particularily the essentially "white" sound of the classically trained artists such as Eddie Lang.

Eddie Lang (October 25, 1902 – March 26, 1933) was an American jazz guitarist, regarded as the most important Chicago jazz guitarist and the Father of the Jazz Guitar. He played a Gibson L-4 and L-5 guitar, providing great influence for many guitarists, including Django Reinhardt - Read more on Wikipedia or listen to Eddie at Red Hot Jazz

References to jazz music crop up in many of Lowry's novels. Perle Epstein's essay Swinging The Maelstrom: Malcolm Lowry and Jazz in George Woodcock ed. Malcolm Lowry The Man And His Work (2007) is a very useful starting point to appreciate Lowry's love of jazz.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Maria Landrock

M. Laruelle glanced somewhat ironically at a garish three-sheet of a German film star, though the features seemed carefully Spanish hanging behind the bar:La Simpatiquisima y encantadora Maria Landrock notable artista alemana que pronto habremos de ver en sensacional Film Under The Volcano This reference to Maria Landrock poses a problem as to which film Lowry is referring to. He can only mean a few possible films made by Landrock during roughly the time frame of the writing of Under The Volcano. The film could be Paul Verhoeven's Aus erster Ehe (1940); Die keusche Geliebte; Aufruhr im Damenstift (1941) but most likely Veit Harlan's Pedro soll hangen (1939-41).

In Under The Volcano, Lowry calls the German actress Maria Landrock "engimatic" which may refer to her playing a Mexican woman Pepita in Veit Harlan's Pedro soll hangen and the fact that her features appear "Spanish". Surely, Lowry could not have seen either film in Mexico before beginning Under The Volcano? If he is referring to the Pedro soll hangen film then it was not released until 1941 and begs the question where he saw the film. He could have either seen the mention of the film in a US trade magazine while in Canada in 1941 or saw the film on his 1945 visit to Mexico.

Maria Landrock apparently only acted in Pedro soll hangen as replacement for director Veit Harlan's wife Kristina Söderbaum who was taken ill during the production of the film.

Veit Harlan was a pro-Nazi propagandist who made the sickening Jud Süß in 1940. After the war, Lowry may have become aware of Harlan's Nazi sympathies. Maybe the mention of Harlan's film was a subtle allusion to the horrors of the war similar to the way he had used Hands Of Orlac as a cinematic metaphor for the same horrors.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Las Manos de Orlac (Hands Of Orlac)

Las Manos de Orlac, said a poster: 6 y 8.30. Las Manos de Orlac, con Peter Lorre. (Malcolm Lowry: Under The Volcano)

Yet what a complicated endless tale it seemed to tell, of tyranny and sanctuary, that poster looming above him now, showing the murderer Orlac! An artist with a murderer’s hands; that was the ticket, the hieroglyphic of the times. For it was Germany itself that, in the gruesome degradation of a bad cartoon, stood over him, Or was it , by some uncomfortable stretch of the imagination, M. Laruelle himself? Malcolm Lowry; Under The Volcano

The opening chapter of Lowry’s Under The Volcano centres around M. Laruelle looking back on the previous year’s events which led to the death of his friend The Consul, the main protagonist of Lowry’s novel. Laruelle feels guilty for the death of his friend because of his adultery with the the Consul's wife Yvonne.

Laruelle sets out towards sunset on the Day of The Dead 1939 to walk home taking him past Quauhnahuac’s (the fictional Cuernavaca) cinema. During a thunderstorm, he stops to take shelter in the cinema’s entrance where he sees the poster advertising the film La Manos de Orlac starring Peter Lorre. Coincidentally, the film had been shown on the same day the previous year when the Consul is murdered. The re-run of the film becomes another factor in Laruelle re-living the events of the previous year.

Hopefully, Las Manos de Orlac (The Hands of Orlac) aka Mad Love will be shown at the Lowry Festival in Liverpool later this year.

Mad Love is a 1935 American horror film adaption of Maurice Renard's story The Hands of Orlac. Directed by German emigré film maker Karl Freund, the film stars Peter Lorre as Dr. Gogol, Frances Drake as Yvonne Orlac and Colin Clive as Stephen Orlac. The film was a remake of the 1924 Orlacs Hände directed by Robert Wiene with Conrad Veidt in the title role.

The plot revolves around Doctor Gogol's obsession over actress Yvonne Orlac. Lowry may have decided to name Yvonne, the heroine of the Under The Volcano, after the film’s character. When Stephen Orlac's hands are destroyed in a train accident, Yvonne brings him to Gogol who is able repair them by grafting on the hands of a murderer Rollo who has recently been guillotined. As Gogol's obsession over Yvonne leads him into doing anything to have her, Stephen Orlac finds that his new hands have made him into an expert knife thrower. Read more on Wikipedia.

It has been noted by commentators on Lowry that there are remote parallels between the film and Under The Volcano since the main characters on in love with a heroine called Yvonne (See Chris Ackerley A Companion To Under The Volcano). The bloody hands of Orlac become to symbolise the collective guilt of mankind (see Lowry’s Letter To Jonathan Cape in Selected Letters).

The film is a powerful precursor to the horrors which were about to explode in the Second World War. Lowry probably knew the 1924 German Expressionistic original by Robert Wiene from his days at Cambridge University. Perhaps Lowry was eager to use the remake, which explores a Grand Guignol setting, to expose us to the true horrors of man. In the film, Yvonne actually works in a Grand Guignol theatre group that specializes in set pieces revolving around torture and humiliation. In the lobby of the theatre, there is a wax sculpture of Yvonne (played by Frances Drake, in a duel role). Lowry may have also recalled the wax models used to illustrate the perils of illicit sex displayed in the Anatomy Museum in Liverpool’s Paradise Street.

The film has provoked some interesting pieces which you can read here:

The Hands of Orlac / Orlacs Hände (1924/1928)
Mad Love 1935
The Hand: Digits Of Death
The Grimm Roots Of Horror
Of mad love, alien hands and the film under your skin
Hands Of Orlac Review

Incidently, the film was shown last February in Cuernavaca during a Lowry Day at the Morelos Cinema where 70 years ago "Mad Love" was projected by Oscar Menéndez. Check out Alberto Rebollo, The Malcolm Lowry Foundation pages on the event.

The accompanying movie clips with the original post have been removed from You Tube.

You can view snippets:

Mad Love 1

Mad Love 2

You can still buy the movie on DVD

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Malcolm Lowry Centenary Liverpool 2009

Malcolm Lowry Centenary
25 September-22 November 2009
The Bluecoat

Malcolm Lowry described Liverpool as ‘that terrible city whose main street is the ocean’. Born in 1909 on the Wirral, on the other side of the river Mersey, Lowry’s relationship to the Merseyside of his youth informs his writing and Liverpool itself continued to hold tremendous significance for him, even though he never returned.

On the occasion of the centenary of his birth, the Bluecoat, Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre, is working with a group of Lowry enthusiasts in the city and international experts, to celebrate this event with an arts programme and publication examining Lowry’s life and work, including his masterpiece, Under the Volcano, and lesser known works.

This celebration will take place 25 September-22 November and the programme will centre on the Bluecoat, which reopened in 2008 following a major redevelopment of its historic building, in time for Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture. Just around the corner from the site of the Anatomy Museum in Paradise Street that so fascinated and appalled Lowry, the Bluecoat is situated in the heart of Liverpool, and has been a centre for the arts for the past 100 years.

The Lowry centenary programme currently in development includes:

• a major exhibition, Under the Volcano, comprising UK and international visual artists’ responses to Lowry and his writing, including painting, film, installation, drawing and photography. Artists include Ross Birrell & David Harding, Julian Cooper, Colin Dilnot, Pete Flowers, Adrian Henri, Cisco Jiménez, Ray Lowry, Cian Quayle, Paul Rooney and others tbc

• screenings during the exhibition of Donald Brittain’s Canadian TV documentary Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry (1976)

• a film programme curated by Mark Goodall relating to Lowry’s interest in cinema, including rare films from the 1920s, and John Huston’s Volcano (with Albert Finney) shown at Picture House at FACT, close to the Bluecoat

• a music strand in response to Lowry’s passion for jazz and his own skills on the taropatch (ukelele), including a contemporary choral song cycle written by poet Ian McMillan and musician Luke Carver Goss (21 November)

• contemporary dance and other performances inspired by the Lowry legend

• live literature events involving Lowry specialists and contemporary writers responding to Lowry’s novels, short stories and poetry

• a talks programme focusing on aspects of Lowry and Liverpool, and other points on his creative compass – Mexico, Canada, New York, the Isle of Man. Lowry’s biographer Gordon Bowker (‘Pursued by Furies: A Life of Malcolm Lowry’) is participating in the Bluecoat’s Chapter & Verse literature festival (14-18 October)

• a 12 hour psychogeographical Lowry day, ‘The Voyage That Never Ends’, journeying to resonant sites on Merseyside (31 October)

• a Mexican Day of the Dead altar dedicated to Lowry, created at the Bluecoat in collaboration with Javier Calderon and local participants (1/2 November, the date on which Under the Volcano is set)

• a publication, Malcolm Lowry: from the Mersey to the world, with 12 new essays and many images, published by Liverpool University Press in collaboration with the Bluecoat, edited by Helen Tookey and Bryan Biggs and including texts by Gordon Bowker, Ailsa Cox, Colin Dilnot, Annick Drösdal-Levillain, Michele Gemelos, Mark Goodall, Ian McMillan, Nicholas Murray, Cian Quayle, Alberto Rebollo, Robert Sheppard and Michael Turner

• a commemorative Lowry bottled beer brewed specially for the occasion

Further information Bryan Biggs, Artistic Director, the Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BX. Telephone: 0151 709 5297,


Welcome To The 19th Hole!

This blog has been set up as part of the celebrations for the centenary of Malcolm Lowry's birth.

The purpose of the blog is three fold:

Firstly, I will be keeping you informed of the events planned in Liverpool to mark Lowry's centenary.

Secondly, the blog will also act as a vehicle for my on-going research into Lowry's Wirral. I have always felt that though considerable research had been conducted on Lowry’s early life there still exist inaccuracies or simply insufficient local research. As we approach the centenary of Lowry’s birth, I have been working on trying to address some of the inaccuracies and attempt to unearth further information on Lowry’s Wirral.

Thirdly, I will be documenting my psychogeographical wanderings around Wirral and Liverpool in search of Lowry's spirit.

Finally, I will also use the blog to document the various themes that run through Lowry's work such as his love of cinema and jazz which I share with him.

Draw up a stool and join Malc and me at the bar in the clubhouse and enjoy the night!