Walking with Shadows: Index, Inscription and Event in Malcolm Lowry's In Ballast to the White Sea
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractA series of 15 black and white photographs and writing authored in response to the publication of a scholarly edition of Malcolm Lowry’s lost novel In Ballast to the White Sea. The photographs are integrated in an essay entitled ‘Walking with Shadows’ – a photo-text – indebted to W.G. Sebald’s use of photographs in The Rings of Saturn (1995). A method adopted which fuses ‘fiction, travelogue, history and biography’ where the images offset or displace the narrative, rather than illustrate it, as the psychic and physical journey unfolds from page to page. The text also references Denis Hollier’s essay ‘Surrealist Precipitates: Shadows Don’t Cast Shadows’, in which the position of the artist /author and the role of the reader highlights the significance of André Breton’s novel and use of photographs in Nadja (1928). The correlation of these sources includes Michel de Certeau’s ‘Walking in the City’ in The Practice of Everyday Life (1984) and Paul Auster’s novella ‘City of Glass’ in New York Trilogy (1987) where the notion of the author / protagonist are posited as interchangeable positions, as they reveal the significance of a method, in which autobiography, fact and fiction coalesce. The photographs which are imbricated within the text function as a series of staging points and motifs, which index the journey undertaken by the novel’s key protagonist. In Lowry’s novel these are uncovered in a series of surreal, psychogeographic encounters across the urban terrain and landscape, and the sonic hum, which imbues his writing. The events and locations which define the novel were rediscovered, or otherwise substituted, as they are re-inscribed in text and image. The project also integrated archive and vernacular images, which include Edward Chambré Hardman’s photographs of Liverpool and the North West as the setting which provides the point of departure for Lowry’s novel and the terrain, which was revisited for this project.
CitationQuayle, C. (2020). Walking with shadows: Index, inscription and event in Malcolm Lowry's In Ballast to the White Sea. In H. Tookey, & B. Biggs, (Eds.), Remaking the voyage: New essays on Malcolm Lowry and In Ballast to the White Sea (pp. 95-118). Liverpool University Press.
PublisherLiverpool University Press
DescriptionThe project is part of a larger body of work and collection of photographs and writing, which responds to the landmarks and sites cited or alluded to in Malcolm Lowry's novel In Ballast to the White Sea. A methodology which is rooted in autoethnographic artist practices and journey retraces the footsteps of Malcolm Lowry over the Wirral to Liverpool, across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man, to Vancouver and elsewhere. The events and encounters are recorded in a practice, which traverses the same terrain or one which stands in for the same as well as encompassing the potential for a detour which leads to new experience and what in psychogepgraphic terms is referred to as a dérive. From the Liverpool University Press website: An Open Access edition of this book is available on the Liverpool University Press website and the OAPEN library. ‘Who ever thought they would one day be able to read Malcolm Lowry’s fabled novel of the 1930s and 40s, In Ballast to the White Sea? Lord knows, I didn’t’ – Michael Hofmann, TLS This book breaks new ground in studies of the British novelist Malcolm Lowry (1909–57), as the first collection of new essays produced in response to the publication in 2014 of a scholarly edition of Lowry’s ‘lost’ novel, In Ballast to the White Sea. In their introduction, editors Helen Tookey and Bryan Biggs show how the publication of In Ballast sheds new light on Lowry as both a highly political writer and one deeply influenced by his native Merseyside, as his protagonist Sigbjørn Hansen-Tarnmoor walks the streets of Liverpool, wrestling with his own conscience and with pressing questions of class, identity and social reform. In the chapters that follow, renowned Lowry scholars and newer voices explore key aspects of the novel and its relation to the wider contexts of Lowry’s work. These include his complex relation to socialism and communism, the symbolic value of Norway, and the significance of tropes of loss, hauntings and doublings. The book draws on the unexpected opportunity offered by the rediscovery of In Ballast to look afresh at Lowry’s oeuvre, to ‘remake the voyage’. ‘Remaking the Voyage makes a major contribution to Lowry studies, perhaps unsurprisingly given the strength of the academic contributors. It genuinely advances humanistic knowledge of Lowry’s In Ballast, additionally offering an intriguing identity politics argument or interpretive nexus, comprising cultural and geographical location, class and political awareness/affiliation.’ - Professor Richard J. Lane, Vancouver Island University Author Information Helen Tookey teaches creative writing at Liverpool John Moores University. She has published two poetry collections with Carcanet Press: Missel-Child (2014, shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Prize 2015) and City of Departures (2019, shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2019). She is the author of Anaïs Nin, Fictionality and Femininity (Oxford University Press, 2003) and co-editor, with Bryan Biggs, of Malcolm Lowry: From the Mersey to the World (Liverpool University Press, 2009). Bryan Biggs has worked at Bluecoat, Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre, for over four decades, curating numerous exhibitions, and live art programmes. In 2017 he directed Bluecoat’s tercentenary year. He writes on contemporary culture and is co-editor, with Julie Sheldon of Art in a City Revisited (Liverpool University Press, 2009) and, with John Belchem, of Liverpool City of Radicals (Liverpool University Press, 2011).
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