• Malcolm Lowry’s Letter
to Juan Fernando Marquez •

• Malcolm Lowry’s Letter
to Juan Fernando Marquez •


To Juan Fernando Marquez

[Oaxaca 1937]


I am here because there is much hostility in my hotel.

I am trying to do some work here but my life is so circumscribed by your detectives who walk up and down the street and stand at the street corner as though there were nothing better to do than to spy on a man who is unable to do anything anyway and never had intentions of doing anything but be good and love and help where help was neccessary that I am rapidly losing my mind. It is not drink that does this but Oaxaca.

Do you wish me to leave with the impression that Oaxaca, the most lovely town in the world and with some of the most lovely people in it, is a town consisting entirely of spies and dogs?

This is unfair to me but it is a hell of a sight unfairer to Oaxaca.

The English are sufficiently stupid but the stupidity and hypocrisy of your detectives and the motives which are behind their little eternal spying – their activities – completely transcend any criminality and stupidity I have ever encountered anywhere in the world.
Have these guys nothing better to do than to watch a man who mearly wants to write poetry? As is I had not enough troubles on my mind!

I do profoundly think that the Oaxaquenians are among the most courteous, sweetly gracious, and fundamentally decent people in the entire world. I think this too of your boss and of yourself and of this lovely town.

However, the whole damn thing is being raised to an insane state of suspicion.

People even camp outside my bloody door to see if I am drinking inside, and of course I probably am because it is so difficult or becoming so difficult to drink outside.

If I do not drink now a certain amount there seems no possible doubt that I shall have a nervous breakdown. If I have that, equally I shall find myself in that Goddamn jail to which I seem to be progressing almost geometrically, and as you know, when ones goes there sober, one goes out drunk. It seems almost that I have a kind of fixation on the place because, like the novelist Dostoievsky, I have practically a pathological sympathy for those who do wrong (what others are there?) and get into the shit.

What I have absolutely no sympathy with is the legislator, the man who seeks, for his own profit, to exploit the weaknesses of those who are unable to help themselves and then to fasten some moral superscription upon it. This I loathe so much that I cannot concievably explain how much it is.

Nor – for that matter – has any man a right to legislate upon a person (who has paid through the nose as I have, who has his house robbed, his wife taken away, in short everything taken away, simply to be in Mexico) for his own Goddamned stupid political reactionary reasons when anyhow it is only a country that he himself – I mean the legislator – has criminally stolen. You know what I mean, of course. Of course it is true that Montezuma – not the beer – may not have been much better than Cortez or Alverado. However, this is another story.



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