A D. H. Lawrence Miscellany

A D. H. Lawrence Miscellany

A D. H. Lawrence Miscellany

A D. H. Lawrence Miscellany

Excerpt

D. H. Lawrence has been the most controversial figure in English literature in the twentieth century. But, since the end of the Second World War, there has emerged a growing concensus of opinion that he is the most significant writer of his time. Controversy continues about him; but in the main it is about which of the two conspicuous elements in him is the more important--the artist or the prophet. His significance itself is no longer in debate. Yet as poet and novelist he has no imitators; as prophet no successors. And that also is significant.

THESE meaningful sentences by the late John Middleton Murry, written early in 1956, about a year before his death, raise the curtain on this book, here and in the first essay in this collection.

There is one correction that might be made, however, since John Murry wrote his essay, in which he further said that Lawrence's poetry was "now the most neglected" aspect of his achievement. The now was 1956; by the time of our later now, Lawrence's poetry is being rediscovered, perhaps actually for the first time discovered, as the last four essays in this book show. Otherwise, Murry's article is a timely introduction to Lawrence by one who knew his writings almost from the first and changed his perspective on them several times before finally seeing what had helped to create a revival of interest in them in the 1950's: "Lawrence was alone in the depth of his prescience of the crisis of humanity which has developed since his death." In making these statements, Murry was not unaware of Lawrence's powers of expression, pointing out that "as a poet . . . he displays, at his best, a marvelous power of exploring the instant moment of emotion or perception; as a novelist he used this gift of sensational immediacy to make vivid 'a life-and-thought adventure' (as he called it) which is unique in our literature. . . ."

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