A: He could have finished it if he has had good health and a stable home. the point is that he had neither. His drinking increased after 1953 when he lost his contract with Random House and he lost his cabin at Dollarton; it was downhill after that and I do not believe he ever established himself properly and productively in England. so, under the real circumstances of his last 7 years or so, the answer is no he was not able to complete it. Remember: he died young and IF he had lived and been well, yes he could have done it.
Q: Was it good for Mexico’s image Lowry didn’t published “La Mordida”?
A: I don't think "Mexico's image" (whatever that is!) would have suffered from La Mordida. I do think it was not ready for publication and would not have helped Lowry's image.
Q: What is the relationship between Lowry and Mexico? Some say he didn’t understand what was going on around him, some others say it was the opposite.
A: Lowry and Mexico is a complex question. He understood some things and did not observe or appreciate others. My view is that he appreciated a deep and complex humanity in Mexico, that he marvelled at the history, the complex layers of culture, and the physical beauty. He also hated the "authorities"—but he hated them everywhere, nowhere more so than in England—which he despised--and in Vancouver which he loved and loathed. Mexico spoke to his own humanity and to his deep sense of fair play, I feel. He saw the country as the victim of some of the worst "white" and European aggression and greed, thus Mexico became for him the perfect stage upon which to castigate western failings, his failings, United States failings, and always —British failings and snobbism.
Q: “But the name of this land is Hell. / It’s not Mexico of course, but in the heart.” What does this mean?
A: It means just what it says: we make our hells ourselves by being cruel, lacking in compassion, by being aggressive, hypocritical, greedy, unforgiving. No se puede vivir sin amar.
Q: Did Lowry believe in reincarnation? I have the impression he had a kind of a personal religion.
A: Not that I am aware. His personal spiritual beliefs were very strong but they were not in reincarnation. He believed in the human spirit, in the natural world, in the best aspects of Christianity—love and forgiveness and gentleness and tolerance.
Q: What did Mexico give him to push him to write such a mystique novel?
A: Mexico stimulated his imagination insofar as it provided the perfect stage for his great drama of suffering and failure—and great promise, always great promise. It placed him at a useful distance from Anglo culture—whether in England or the USA (and god knows he would be critical of Canada when he got here!) —and thereby allowed him to see clearly what was wrong with the world he came from--the West, Europe. Lowry was postcolonial in many ways and despised imperialism, empires, the rape of the so-called 'new world.' The contradictions of Empire were right in his face in Mexico.
Q: After being deported he threw up a curse upon Mexico, it couldn’t have been different, he suffered very much in that process. What do you think?
A: I think his "curse" as you call it was a pose. More Lowryan theatrics. He cursed the ugly bars in Vancouver, the behaviour of his family--philistines as far as he was concerned—etc. etc. Mind you he had a very frightening experience which he had not really sought out--as he certainly had in the 30s, when his constant drinking caused his own trouble.
Q: García Márquez says that one of the authors who influenced him too much was Malcolm Lowry, what do you say about it?
A: Goodness knows what Marquez meant. Possibly he felt that Lowry's vision and style were so strong that —like the armadillo— he would pull a person who came under his influence right along with him. Faulkner has had something of that kind of influence on younger writers, as had Joyce. But in the last analysis Marquez is very different from Lowry, Marquez has his own unique voice so he used and then got away from Lowry's influence.
Q: What do you think about the mystery of his death, did he commit suicide?
A: I think his death may well have been intentional —whether suicide or not I can't say. No one can. We may never know exactly what Margerie's role was on that night but he had been violent towards her in the past —and to Jan— and he was violent that night.
Q: How important was Margerie’s collaboration for the final draft of Under the Volcano?
A: In my view Marjorie was essential to UV and all Lowry's work, perhaps not so much as a collaborator but as a sounding board who could advise him, often very wisely, against longeurs. And she was essential for all the practical aspects of typing and re drafting and revising.
Q: You say that alcohol is a metaphor for “human isolation and collapse of western culture”, what are the main sins or errors of the western culture, does that include abortion?
A: Good grief! What do I think the main sins are? or what do I think Lowry thought they were? see my answers to the above questions #3 and #4. Abortion? why do you ask? Because of the Consul's nasty accusation of Yvonne? You must remember that that kind of vitriol was fairly standard cliched misogyny in Lowry's day. Lowry would have been the worst of all possible parents —he was a child himself always. for myself— of course abortion is not a sin. It is a great sin to bring children into the world and exploit or abuse them or populate the world with starving children. Children deserve to be wanted and cherished and women have the right to have children or not--as they choose.
Q: How important was for Lowry’s vision of Mexico, and for his writing to have had a really close Mexican friend like Juan Fernando Márquez?
A: I cannot answer this because I have no real idea how close a friend this man really was.
Q: What’s the relationship between the landscape and the situation of the feelings of the characters?
A: this is a huge subject and would take hundreds of words to deal with. The four main characters have very different perceptions of the Mexican landscape and they are symbolic as much as experiential.
Q: Was there a moment when Lowry (Firmin) really wanted to become a Mexican subject or is he just using the story of William Blackstone for romantic purposes?
A: No. Blackstone is a thematic motif. He fled so-called gringo civilization because he loathed it. Therefore, he becomes a sign of critique and opposition to that culture.
Held during The Malcolm Lowry International Colloquium 2002