Saturday, 14 July 2012

Parson's Nose Snowden, North Wales

Lowry, Jan Gabrial and Tom Forman stayed at the Gorphwysfa Hotel at Pen-y-Pas in early October 1933 arriving on the 1st. Lowry, Jan Gabrial and Forman walked up Snowden from here via the Pyg Track. Later Lowry and Forman went rock-climbing. (Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg.27-28).

Lowry refers to the climb in his novel Under The Volcano when Hugh Firmin recalls a visit to Snowdon in Chapter 6; “Climbed the Parson’s Nose,” one had written, in the visitors’ book at the little Welsh rock-climbing hotel, “in twenty minutes. Found the rocks very easy.” ” Came down the Parson’s Nose,” some immortal wag had added a day later, “in twenty seconds. Found the rocks very hard.” (Pg. 185). Chris Ackerley notes that "according to a manuscript note [UBC 30-10, ts 22], the detail in Chapter VIII about pity and terror is derived from "the same man responsible for the classic about finding the rocks of the Parson's Nose very hard", i.e., I.A. Richards (Malcolm Lowry Project 181.3).

Hugh also recalls; "At the top of Parson's Nose you could walk home to tea over the hills if you wished, just as the actor in the Passion Play can get off his cross and go home to his hotel for a Pilsener." (Pg. 185). This reference to the crucifixion may relate to Lowry's theme of relating love to the crucifixion - Lowry maybe recalling that he had argued with Jan Gabrial before walking on Snowdon. Hugh continues seeing the climb as symbolic of life; "Yet in life ascending or descending you were perpetually involved with mists, the cold and the overhangs, the treacherous rope and the slippery belay; only, while the rope slipped there was sometimes time to laugh. None the less, I am afraid..." (Pg. 185). Chris Akerley notes the significance of Lowry's reference to the Passion Play as follows:

The Oberammergau Passion Play, given once every ten years in the upper Bavarian village of Oberammergau, forty-five miles southwest of Munich, was first performed in 1634, to fulfill a vow made by the villagers during an outbreak of plague the previous year. The format has been revised many times (recently, to eliminate the notorious anti-Semitic references), but in eighteen acts, with numerous tableaux and musical embellishments, it tells the story from Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem until the Resurrection. The image occurs in Dark as the Grave [94]:

There was his youth. No wonder he did not want to go down in the lift! It was like a station of the cross, in the unfinished Oberammergau of his life, shadowy understudy even in that, it was much if he'd left his cross here, while he went off and got drunk on Pilsener one night and then had done something else, and forgotten the part he was playing. (Malcolm Lowry Project 181.5).

No comments:

Post a Comment