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Novelist Malcolm Lowry
Possibly the greatest writer of the 20th century
and a man whose pilgrimage helps us all

The tumultuous scene about the basilica was very curious: the merry-go-rounds and obscene scene or gruesome sideshows, and yet tents of shade in the tremendous heat (he had only visited the basilica before at night) with the shouts of 'Step up ladies and gentlemen and see the amazing spectacle of the head that has his body devoured by rats,' the wild pagan dances, the sense of freedom and confinement at once, and the feeling of definite pilgrimage toward the basilica, and yet the virtual impossibility of moving a step, or one found that one was only going round and round the square, the sense of sacred miracle preserved in the midst of all this chaos, the contrast of the bishops speaking, or rather mutedly opening and closing his mouth, so that he might have been Mynheer Peeperkorn prior to his suicide making his final speech before the clamour of the waterfall in The Magic Mountain for all one heard, and yet pronouncing in the midst of all this his benediction, almost as it were his encyclical to a closed order, on all present, even Sigbjorn and Primrose, as the yelling jukeboxes shrieked and whinnied in English louder and louder, 'I'm dreaming of a white Christmas' - all this had an absurdity and horror, would have been justified as an experience simply by its overwhelming effect of absurdity and ugliness, but for the equally overwhelming sense of something sublime everywhere present, of faith.

You could not say it was a simple faith, omnipresent as the jukeboxes and a curious sign that he had observed, Kilroy was here, you could not pin it down at all. For that matter even a Devout Catholic — Primrose was descended from a Catholic-burning bishop and Sigbjorn from practising Manx sorceresses — of the usual Western type would have been equally disgusted, and have been far more critical than he of the tasteless votive symbols of that belief, while in Sigbjorn himself — probably far more highly superstitious and less sceptical a person, and yet reluctant to submit himself to the discipline of any church, disbelieving indeed in public worship — he might have detected an element of pride, in many respects humble indeed as Uriah Heep, humble though he was, that would have immediately placed him among the damned. And yet again, there was the overpowering sense of something irrefutably sublime, of faith, or a complex faith.

(from Dark as The Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid)


Read more about Lowry at wikipedia