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Download Under the Volcano Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Under the Volcano Audiobook, by Malcolm Lowry Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,951 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Malcolm Lowry Narrator: John Lee Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2009 ISBN: 9781455194292
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On the Day of the Dead, 1938, former British consul Geoffrey Firmin is in Quauhnahuac, Mexico, where his life has become overshadowed by the debilitating malaise of drinking. His wife, Yvonne, has just arrived on a mission to rescue their failing marriage, inspired by a vision of a life together away from Mexico and the circumstances that have driven their relationship to the brink of collapse. But Yvonne’s mission is further complicated by the presence of the consul’s half-brother, Hugh, and Jacques, a childhood friend. Geoffrey, for his part, knows he must stop drinking in order to function efficiently, but at the same time he cannot function efficiently without drinking. He both loves and despises Yvonne, simultaneously wants to flee Mexico and stay under the two smoking volcanoes. The events of this one day unfold against the unforgettable backdrop of a Mexico at once magical and diabolical. A modern classic, Under the Volcano is a powerful and lyrical statement on the human condition and one man’s constant struggle against the elemental forces that threaten to destroy him.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A Faustian masterpiece.”

    Anthony Burgess

  • “One of the towering novels of [the twentieth] century.”

    New York Times

  • “[Lowry’s] masterpiece…has a claim to being regarded as one of the ten most consequential works of fiction produced in this century…It reflects the special genius of Lowry, a writer with a poet’s command of the language and a novelist’s capacity to translate autobiographical details into a universal statement.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “The puzzle the book presents has been unlocked many times over the years, but, as is the case with all great works of art, Volcano inspires and absorbs legion interpretations. It can be read as an overtly political, religious, mystical or philosophical novel. It is about damnation, or fascism, or love. It is a tragedy and, at times, a comedy (its flashes of humour are too often ignored). Its metaphors and symbols can be studied and catalogued, but their meanings seem to shift as they recur, or when they are returned to on re-reading. The book refuses to take definitive shape. It is so elaborate that, in a sense, it lives.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “John Lee’s evocative reading of Lowry’s classic tale of delusion and drunkenness admirably explicates the stream-of-consciousness narrative and steers the shifts of perspective in this portrait of hopelessness on the eve of WWII. Lee’s seamless transitions from English to Spanish to bits of French and German, coupled with his ability to mimic the upper-class English speech of Geoffrey and Hugh Firmin, the protagonist and his brother, make this a remarkable listening experience. Death hangs over the Mexican landscape like a shroud, and this audiobook evokes the magic and mystery, hope and despair of three intersecting characters—the brothers Firmin and Geoffrey’s former wife, an American film star named Yvonne—on the Day of the Dead in Mexico in 1938.”


  • “[Under the Volcano] obviously belongs with the most original and creative novels of our time.”

    Alfred Kazin, literary critic

  • One of Time Magazine's Best 100 English-Language Novels from 1923–2005
  • A Wall Street Journal Pick for 5 Best Novels of Despair

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tom | 2/13/2014

    " Couldn't finish it, found it quite boring. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anthony | 2/11/2014

    " It took me so, so very long to read this that by the time I finished I forgot what I thought of it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Carla | 2/3/2014

    " Painful to read but I'm half way through... excellent description of living in a drunken stupor, but who wants to read about a drunken stupor for four-hundred pages? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rochelle | 1/26/2014

    " utterly brilliant, one of the best books I have ever read, the sense of a life unravelling, all one has known coming undone. haunting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William Dearth | 1/23/2014

    " I think that I must read it again sometime. I will tell you that after I read it, I watched the movie version starring Albert Finney and I thought "what the F#*@". Then I watched it again much more closely and I though that it was awesome. I think that the same may happen with the novel if I read it again and pay more attention. This certainly isn't a novel to be daydreaming while reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenny.p | 1/15/2014

    " One of the best books I have ever read. That said, it is also one of the most frustrating. Lowery asks a lot of the reader. The narrative is so hard to access: every paragraph is dense, dense, dense with layers of reference to Mexican history, 1930s radical politic movements, film and literary history, mythology, astrology...I was constantly having to look things up, which was frustrating and I found totally excessive. Yet, it is the most brilliant story of the downward spiral of a drunk and the people that care about him. A book I will definitely want, and need, return to... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cathy Hurt | 1/12/2014

    " I tried so hard, but in the end I just couldn't keep going. I stopped reading about halfway through. The writing is good, but the story is so slow that even good writing can't save it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dosty | 12/19/2013

    " I think this is a book you need to read multiple times, just to appreciate all the allusions and references and symbols. Brilliantly and evocatively written, and yet I'm sure I only really understood 70 per cent of what was going on. Chilling final paragraph. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Qyoung | 11/19/2013

    " A terrific drunk, Lowry, writes a terrific book about a terrific drunk, Firmin, who succumbs to his addiction, all told in fierce prose that resembles the shifting terrors met in the haze of inebriation. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Chris Parker | 10/7/2013

    " Nowhere near as good as I expected. A real struggle. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 6/13/2013

    " Wow, that was kind of a depressing book. Some parts were hard to get through having to watch somebody be so self destructive. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brandon O'Neill | 5/8/2013

    " This was a mostly painful read, but I did it for book club. Some great descriptions kept it from being a 1 star, but I do not care for stream of consciousness readings ever. To me it is like abstract paintings - throw anything up there and it is done. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mac | 4/5/2013

    " I'm embarrassed to say that I actually went and bought tequila after I finished this book. Does that make me a bad person? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wes Townsend | 9/30/2011

    " Surreal and modernist in the way only books from the first half of the century are. Echoes of Ulysses (stream-of-consciousness, sometimes confusing prose) and The Sound and the Fury (each character's chapters have their own prose style). Enjoyed it. Makes me want to drink mescal. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ross | 3/14/2011

    " Slow, great ending. Poor bastard. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Chris | 1/21/2011

    " I know this book is held in very high esteem but it was a huge disappointment for me. I found it to be a confusing and meandering stream of drunken nothingness. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Drew | 1/14/2011

    " Starts off slow - painfully slow - but gets better and better. Also invites rereading; there's way more going on than it seems at first. Might be best, if you don't have much Mexican history, to do a bit of research before reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vel | 1/14/2011

    " A bit difficult at times, but grand nonetheless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gerrie | 1/8/2011

    " So far, heavy going, got better at the end. Would recommend "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Potomacwill | 1/4/2011

    " This book has the most dramatic ending of the 70 or so critically acclaimed 100 Great Books Of The 20th Century that I have read. I put it that way because I have about 30 to go. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Derek | 12/17/2010

    " i only managed to get through 60-70 pages of this, boring. Maybe i'll try to read it another time. "

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About the Author
Author Malcolm Lowry

Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957) was born in England and attended Cambridge University. He spent much of his life traveling and lived in Paris, New York, Mexico, Los Angeles, and Italy, among other places. He is the author of numerous works, including Ultramarine and Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place.

About the Narrator

John Lee has narrated more than 100 audiobooks. His work has garnered multiple Earphones Awards and won AudioFile‘s Best Voice in Fiction & Classics in both 2008 and 2009. He also narrates video games, does voice-over work, and writes plays. He is an accomplished stage actor and has written and co-produced the feature films Breathing Hard and Forfeit. He played Alydon in the 1963–64 Doctor Who serial The Daleks.