Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Swinging the Maelstrom

I have been pretty remiss with keeping up this blog over the last year! One major event that I failed to register on the blog was the publication of the above book.

Swinging the Maelstrom is Lowry’s story of a musician enduring existence in Bellevue, the psychiatric hospital in New York where Lowry himself spent some days in 1936. The novella, written in Canada between 1942 and 1944, during Lowry’s happiest and most fruitful years, reveals the deep influence on Lowry of the healing experience of his idyllic retreat at Dollarton.

The novella by Malcolm Lowry that appeared in Paris Review in 1963 under the title “Lunar Caustic,” and was published in book form in 1968 does not match the claims made for it by his widow Margerie Lowry of it being the final and definitive version of that work.  This text is neither the version which Lowry wrote in New York City in 1936 (“The Last Address”), nor the partially revised version he drafted in Vancouver in 1939 (still called “The Last Address”), nor the radically transformed version that he undertook in Dollarton between 1942 and 1944 (“Swinging the Maelstrom”).  In a long letter of January 1952 to the influential New York editor and publisher Robert Giroux, Lowry stated clearly that “Swinging the Maelstrom” should be considered as the final, completed version of the novella (which meanwhile had acquired its new title “Lunar Caustic”) and that “The Last Address” should be “looked on as simply the material from which I worked up ‘Swinging the Maelstrom’.”  

The present long overdue scholarly edition reveals the exact status of all the “Lunar Caustic” manuscripts, including the posthumous mix of two versions in published form.  The book includes scholarly editions of both “Swinging the Maelstrom” and “The Last Address,” thus offering the reader unique insight into Lowry’s work. The present edition will allow scholars to engage in a genetic study of Lowry’s novella and reconstruct, step by step, the creative process that developed from a rather pessimistic and misanthropic vision of the world as a madhouse (the 1936 version of “The Last Address”), via the apocalyptic metaphors of a world on the brink of Armageddon at the beginning of World War II (the 1939 revisions of the “The Last Address”), to a world that—in spite of all its troubles—leaves room for self-irony and humanistic concern (the radical transformation of the novella into “Swinging the Maelstrom” in 1942–44). New Lowry Editions

You can purchase a copy here

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