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2014 | 3. Global Modernism(s) Approaches to trans-local / trans-cultural / trans-civilizational dimension of Modernist movements | 1-26

Article title

Souls and shamans in space. The cosmopolitan, prismatic psychology of Malcolm Lowry


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Inspired by a plethora of multicultural, international influences – especially Russian literary sources – the twentieth-century English late-Modernist novelist and poet, Malcolm Lowry (1909-57) was stimulated by a prismatic, multifaceted approach to his writing. Although relatively under-rated and non-canonical, he was endowed with an effervescent, encyclopaedic, and eclectic mind-set which combined conceptions of temporal with spiritual, on the one hand, and terrestrial with cosmic dimensions of his environment, on the other. In reinterpreting his vision of the world, we encounter psychological, psychogeographic, and anthropological forces at work in his approach to what was to become Jacob Bronowski’s Ascent of Man. In tracing Malcolm Lowry’s life-long quest for a harmony to unite Man’s natural, supernatural, and celestial roots, we must embark upon a spiritual odyssey on a mystic mission to attain truth and salvation. This journey leads us to appreciate Lowry’s skilful synthesis – in his pursuit of souls and shamans – of the seemingly diverse domains of anthropology, psychoanalysis, the Cabbala, and even voodoo in his ethnopoetic novels, Under the Volcano and Dark as the Grave wherein my Friend is Laid (1945-68).


  • University of Brighton


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