From Russia to Eridanus: The Taoist Psychogeographic Ecosphere of Malcolm Lowry


Author: Nigel H. Foxcroft, Tamagawa University, Japan
Published: September 2013

Citation: Foxcroft, N. H. (2013). From Russia to Eridanus: The Taoist Psychogeographic Ecosphere of Malcolm Lowry. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 2(2).


In tracing the evolution of the cosmic consciousness of Malcolm Lowry (1909–57), a prominent English Modernist novelist and poet, this paper provides a multi-disciplinary, cross-cultural, intercontinental framework for analysing the influence of cultures and civilizations — both east and west—upon national identities and value-systems, expressed through literature. In its investigation of the material, cosmological and spiritual domains of the Aztecs and Oaxacan Zapotecs, the paper considers anthropological, cultural and ethnographic influences associated with pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican rituals and primordial forces. Hence, it can be said to scrutinize the psychogeographic ecosphere of existence in its cycles of life, death and renewal, probing the subconscious dimensions of the Mexican Day of the Dead Hispanic festival observed by Lowry in Cuernavaca in 1936. It also evaluates his dedication to a quest for atonement with the spirits of the dead in his various works, ranging from Under the Volcano to The Forest Path to the Spring. In recognition of Lowry’s need to repent for the debts of the past and for the traumatic sins of mankind, synergies are made with the animist, cosmic and shamanic concepts of the universe reflected in the celestial visions of the Aztec and Zapotec civilizations. In pursuit of Lowry’s search for yin-yang universal harmony on his psychic journey from Russia, via Mexico, to Canada, cosmopolitan, cross-disciplinary conctions — including Sino-Japanese links—are established among the cyclic rhythms of the universe reflected in Aztec, Zapotec and Taoist world-views; the highly significant Pleiades star cluster; the ubiquitous, intergalactic symbol of an Edenic Eridanus; and the philosophical and cosmic concepts of Taoism.


Malcolm Lowry, Taoism