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47 morality" or that in Yeats's view "Every man is newly primative man in an alien universe: the situation is generic tragedy," some at least may be so infuriated by these reckless assertions that they will turn back to Yeats's own text. "Cast a cold eye," Yeats there advises, "on life, on death," Columbia University — John Unterecker 3. The Lawrence Letters: Undefinitive Plenty D. H. Lawrence. THE COLLECTED LETTERS OF D. H. LAWRENCE. Edited by Harry T. Moore. NY: Viking, 1962. 2 vols. $17.50. Almost any group of letters by D. H. Lawrence is bound to have intrinsic interest and to be exciting reading. In Harry T. Moore's present collection of letters (1200) we have the largest number of Lawrence's letters ever brought together. This would seem to be a most promising publishing venture, but that is partly the cause of some dissatisfaction. Such a title as THE COLLECTED LETTERS OF D. H. LAWRENCE does promise much, unfortunately more than the reader actually finds. The publisher makes matters worse by placing on the box a most misleading blurb: "The Definitive Collection." "Definitive" in what sense? The most complete collection it was possible at this time for Mr. Moore to gather? The most exact and scholarly edition of the letters Professor Moore has chosen to print? Most readers will expect the former; depending on their fussiness, they more or less get the latter. It should be clear that Moore makes no claim for any kind of definitiveness; in fact, he writes, "this is not an edition containing every available Lawrence letter. . . ." Moore goes on at some length to indicate that he selected from among previously published letters the best and the most important, avoiding, insofar as possible, repetition of content. And he has supplied many letters (over 300) never printed before and complete versions of others previously published only in part. Because probably over 700 letters published ¡n various other places are not included in this collection, one wishes that Moore had supplied a list of letters in print elsewhere. There is little use, really, to be indignant that this is not the collected edition or a definitive edition (in the sense of completeness) as the LONDON TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT reviewer rather huffily was. Moore explains that even "such a project as the present volumes is beyond the possibility of most publishers. . . ." Still, one recalls that a virtually definitive edition of Swinburne's letters was possible; such an edition of George Eliot's letters was possible; apparently, a voluminous edition of Dickens' letters is possible; and a thorough edition of Wilde's letters has appeared. One regrets that Lawrence has not been served equally wel1. The scholar searching out minutiae must still consult the many scattered volumes in which Lawrence letters have appeared. But for the large majority of scholars Moore's edition will be more serviceable than any other single edition now available. The really important letters are here; Lawrence's ideas are amply represented; his life and career are quite sequentially laid out before us. 48 The "staggering omissions" the TLS reviewer refers to do not strike me as especially "staggering." There are misprints and slips in the text which certainly should not be in an otherwise well printed attractively packaged two-volume set costing $17.50. However, these admittedly "trivial" points the TLS reviewer raises are quite trivial enough not to bring into serious question Moore's scholarship, Moore's twenty-page introduction serves its purpose well, he provides a useful "Viho's Viho in the Lawrence Letters," with about 206 entries. The brief notes identifying each person are adequate and far more useful placed in this glossary than they would be if spread out throughout the book in footnotes at the first appearance of each name. Each section of letters, grouped chronologically , is introduced by a brief headnote stating pertinent facts of Lawrence's life during the period covered by the ensuing letters. The Appendix (Volume 2) reprints Aldous Huxley's introduction to his 1932 collection of letters. Then follows an "Index to Recipients of the Letters," Among those most copiously represented are Lady Cynthia Asquith, Dorothy Brett, E. H. Brewster, Curtis...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 47-48
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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