I've only read a handful of novels more than once. "Under the Volcano" is one of them. Colin Dayan discusses why it is such a difficult novel to teach and what it says about our discomfort, at times, with language. (From the LA Review of Books).
Exceprts from Dayan's essay: "How far can one expect students to dive or sink into a textual world that is adamantly unreasonable and, to a great extent, indecent? What is the real, if somewhat vague, role of the academy, particularly its requirement of detachment?
"Teaching Under the Volcano has been a sinking experience. How difficult it is to get students to follow Dr. Vigil’s call, “Throw away your mind.” In the face of the casual slaughter and commonplace cruelty that define our contemporary moment, how do we, through Lowry, move beyond the human, all-too-human frames of knowledge (political, intellectual, academic, theological)?
"Responding passionately to the unspeakable — with feeling, not sentiment — might renew our sense of the political, and guard against our too easy disavowal of evils committed in our name. To become sensitive to the affliction that demands our concern is to dare to read against the grain, against the self-serving humanism that inoculates the privileged against whatever is too powerless or insignificant to count."