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Since the redrafting of Under the Volcano itself was to take ten years , and since Margerie appeared on the scene quite early in that period to begin her work of cOllaboration, there is a case for saying that Ultramarine may be the only Lowry novel which is entirely his own; even with this book there are several close-to-surface sources - Aiken and Grieg, particularly. In May 1927 Lowry boarded the SS Pyrrhus bound from Liverpool via the Suez Canal for Shanghai, Hong Kong, Yokohama, Singapore and Vladivostock.

Ultramarine 29 In Ultramarine Hilliot is very much an outsider and a man alone. Lowry chooses to try and make us see how he develops intellectually across the space of only four days. The problems are considerable, and virtually force upon hirn the retrospective and introspective style he adopts. The 'story' is not told, day by day, from Liverpool out to the ship's destination, and then homeward again. It begins on a Thursday afternoon, about an hour before the Oedipus Tyrannus ties up at Tsjang-Tsjang.

Its stylistic echoes of the manner of Chapter 1 make the contrast much more pointed. Instead of the terse and desiccated speech patterns of the individual seamen signing on, we are given the feel of their instinctual camaraderie, now homeward bound. There are eight pages of this. Then Lowry shifts his narrative mode. Dana opens and reads his one and only letter from Janet. Earlier he has been unable to bring hirns elf to do this, but the new self-confidence of having been accepted by the crew gives hirn fresh animus.

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