CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Ackerley, Chris and Lawrence J. Clipper.

Vancouver, University of British Columbia Press, c1984. 476pp, cloth, $45.00, ISBN 0-7748-0199-9. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Alan Thomas

Volume 13 Number 4
1985 July

Malcolm Lowry's novel Under the Volcano is well known for the richness of its allusion and reference. First, there is the carefully detailed fictional Quauhnahuac, which is based upon the Mexican town of Cuernavaca and its environs, with such close fidelity to the model, that streets, statues, and churches can be identified with ease. Upon this factual matrix Lowry lays another network of allusion and reference arising in the ideas, perceptions, and memories that pass through the minds of the characters, notably the richly-stocked mind of the drunken Consul, Geoffrey Firmin, bound on the last stage of his journey to his death. The apocalyptic power and vision of the novel makes itself felt without explanation; yet, there is a delight offered by this companion, as by most concordances, in following the fine tracery of the network of reference. More than five thousand points are elucidated by Ackerley and Clipper in some sixteen hundred notes ranging from a brief sentence to a full page. The notes are keyed to the Penguin and standard hardback editions of Under the Volcano and so are thoroughly accessible.

This volume passes the test of all such guides, it makes absorbing reading on its own. Students who can read Lowry will undoubtedly find it a treasure. The editors write simply and directly and do not attempt to show themselves more knowledgeable than Lowry, yet, do not hesitate to follow an allusion where it will, laying out, for instance, the Maya calendar simply and clearly.

Alan Thomas, Scarborough College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works