Wednesday, May 16, 2007

DH Lawrence

This article by Elizabeth Tallent in The Threepenny Review reviews a new biography of DH Lawrence, DH Lawrence: The Life of an Outsider. Here is a bit:
If young writers can rarely name more than a dozen plants within a ten-mile radius of their writing desks, this isn't seen as detrimental to their work's verisimilitude, since the nonhuman world plays almost no part in contemporary fiction. It's as if this silence in fiction anticipates a hundred thousand species' extinction in the actual world. Lawrence would be enraged.

The review spends a good amount of time on Lawrence's image and reputation, and the ways that the current modes of criticism and fiction – and society – have diminished most readers' appreciation of his motifs. It is very insightful, I think, and reminds me of the approach Henry Louis Gates Jr. takes with the Norton Critical Uncle Tom's Cabin. If you've never read Lawrence, it is a shame, and I recommend picking up his first volume of poetry (published by Godine's imprint – Black Sparrow Books) Birds, Beasts and Flowers!

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