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The Lost Other: Lowry's creative process

Abstract : The recent discovery and subsequent publication of Lowry’s lost novel In Ballast to the White Sea, meant as the Paradiso piece in Lowry’s long-planned Dantesque trilogy, calls attention to the importance of loss in Lowry’s creative process. Indeed, the 1936 typescript edited by Patrick McCarthy and Chris Ackerley, in which the protagonist’s young brother commits suicide, does not readily lend itself to such positioning in the trilogy. However, the very presence of an alter-ego for the protagonist and his disappearing early in the novel point to a process that may be seminal to Lowry’s creative art: the need to generate another self whose loss is the necessary sacrifice to fuel the writer’s creative power. That In Ballast to the White Sea should be a form of Kunstelroman seems to confirm this intuition. It is besides a novel about a novel, very much like Dark As the Grave Wherein My Friend Is Laid, the title of which again highlights loss and grieving for this loss as an important feature of Lowry’s art. Just as Dark as the Grave is a returning to the place where he had written Under the Volcano, so In Ballast to the White Sea is motivated by a desire to meet the author whose works inspired the writing of Ultramarine. However the quest for the origin of creation proves elusive and eventually suggests that the origin is now lost, and perhaps always was. And it is perhaps this very loss which is the true origin of creation for it liberates speech and allows more writing. The fact that Lowry never tried to retrieve the typescript of In Ballast from the White Sea and chose instead to let it survive as a trace, as the presence of an absence, in other works of his and in letters, may actually account for its paradisiac quality: the perfect book that only exists as an absence, a distant horizon always to be reached, which stimulates the writer’s quest and his writing. The special place In Ballast holds in Lowry’s grand-oeuvre as both an absence and a presence could thus designate it as his ob-jeu, a metaphorization which allows him to negotiate the ineluctability of absence and turn it into a productive tool.
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Contributor : Catherine Delesalle-Nancey Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Sunday, March 8, 2020 - 7:49:22 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, April 28, 2020 - 2:38:02 PM


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Catherine Delesalle-Nancey. The Lost Other: Lowry's creative process. Tookey Helen and Biggs Bryan. Remaking the Voyage, Liverpool University Press, In press. ⟨hal-02502048⟩



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