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488 LETTERS IN CANADA 1982 the most interesting in the volume. Barbara Godard has nothing new to say about modernism or about El Greco, but her comments on them allow her to offer a very subtle reading of As for Me and My House. Janet Giltrow compares Susanna Moodie and Mrs Trollope as travel writers. They are hardly frisky Americans in spirit, yet Giltrow's analysis of the 'conceit of travel' in their work makes her article perceptive and engaging. The same is true of Frances Kaye's study of the Western myth, and of Kenneth Graham's discussion of the picaresque as it applies to Kroetsch's The Words of My Roari1lg. (JON KERTZER) Sherrill E. Grace. The Voyage That Never Ends University of British Columbia Press. xvi, 152. $24.00; $9.95 paper Malcolm Lowry is a difficult writer to explicate accurately and to judge fairly. Wide-ranging and esoteric interests are deeply embedded in the thickly encrused palimpsests of his fictions. Convoluted and reflexive narratives create a series of boxes within metafictional boxes, a wilderness of mirrors in which Lowry as author and Lowry as protagonist wander hand in hand. Difficulties are compounded by the fact that the posthumously published works which constitute much of the Lowry canon - Dark as the Grave, October Ferry to Gabriola, and Hear Us 0 Lord - are reconstructions salvaged from substantial but unfinished drafts. Consequently , itis not always clear where Lowry ends and editorial ingenuity begins. Drawing on unpublished drafts and letters in the Lowry collection at the University of British Columbia, Sherrill Grace tackles the problems posed by Lowry's fiction with steady purposiveness and sensible judgment . Building on earlier Lowry scholarship, but aVOiding biographical and psychoanalytical readings, Grace provides close exegesis and formalistic analysis of individual texts. She also consistently relates individual works to the exoskeleton that Lowry shaped for his canon - the 'Voyage that Never Ends: Lowry's expression of his life and work as 'a continuous narrative-in-process.' While acknowledging the uniqueness of Under the Volcano, Grace insists on its location within the 'Voyage' structure as 'a crucial stage in the Lowry process of withdrawal and return.' In this she is at pains to counter the notion of Lowry as a onenovel author. She very nearly succeeds. Lowry's 'Voyage' project was embryonic in "940. It was still fragmentary in '95', when Lowry described it to Hal Matson as 'five, perhaps six interrelated novels, of which the Volcano would be one.' 'Though not the best one by any means: he continued, whistling hopefully in the dark. Calling Under the Volcano 'a sort of battery in the middle' of the sketchy 'Voyage: he envisaged that novel as 'a work of the imagination HUMANITIES 489 by the protagonist' - hence something that the protagonist's maker could presumably improve upon. [n fact, the 'Voyage That Never Ends' never became much more than a filing cabinet for Under the Volcano and Lowry's 'bolus' of unfinished and constantly growing drafts. Under the Volcano remained his one fully achieved book. He hoped he would be able to better it, but he never did. The 'Voyage' concept had considerable potential , but potentiality is a long step from final accomplishment. Ultimately , this may not be quite enough to sustain Lowry's reputation beyond the undoubted achievement of Under the Volcano. Notwithstanding the flimsiness of the infrastructure, examining Lowry 's fiction within the framework of the 'Voyage' generates some rewarding insights and fresh perspectives. But the greatest strength of Grace's treatment remains her sympathetic appraisal of the stories and posthumous works, revealing suggestive patterns in the stories and displaying Dark as the Grave and October Ferry to such advantage that one takes them up with new respect for what they are and what they might have become in time. One may quibble about final judgment as to Lowry's stature, but for fair appraisal of the greatness that might have been, for just assessment of the splendour of Under the Volcano, for stimulating interpretation of the stories and uncompleted novels, and for valuable bibliographical guidance to the present state of Lowry studies, one could do much worse than take Sherrill Grace's study as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 488-489
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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