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Nature and Culture in D. H. Lawrence (review)
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234Philosophy and Literature academic life. Instead of "the easy equality of friends" (p. 160), those on top in our profession repress their inferiors because their mistaken views deserve "correction or ridicule." Disarmed of the illusion that truth exists, we will renounce "coercion" for "mutual tolerance and respect for differences of opinion " (p. 161). Naomi Schor adds a feminist slant to Crosman's subjectivism, suggesting that the reader who pretends to clarify a text succumbs "to (masculine ) forms of aggression and mastery: rape and imperialism" (p. 182). Instead of dominating texts and other readers, we should recover our "humility, which is somehow bound up with a recognition of [our] femininity" (p. 182). Finally, along similar lines, Norman Holland suggests that readings differ because readers do: my "unique identity" shapes what I perceive. When I discuss literature widi others, I should be asking whether my experience enriches fheirs. They, of course, have the right to say no. Instead of interpreting texts, we should try to accumulate readings: "to add response to response, to multiply possibilities, and to enrich the whole experience" for everyone (p. 370). This equation of objectivity with imperialism, or correction with ridicule, seems to me sentimental and even dangerous, and I am glad to say that not all the contributors endorse it (see especially the essays by Culler and Leenhardt ). We respect the opinions of others when we feel that we can learn from them—when correction, agreement, and disagreement are possible. Opposition , as Blake said, is true friendship. Crosman, to be sure, righdy objects to the elitism and competitiveness that mar our profession. But tyrannical, abusive professors are irrational—more in love with themselves than with the complex truth. Dispensing with standards of correctness only intensifies the power struggle that Crosman and others want to stopi—"the war of all against all" that disfigures academic life. University of New MexicoMichael Fischer Nature and Culture in D. H. Lawrence, by Aidan Burns; xi & 137 pp. Totowa, New Jersey: Barnes and Noble, 1981, $19.50. This is a bold and often absorbing book. But before the champagne with Rocky Mountain oysters, grilled à la Mellors, three complaints. First, Aidan Burns wants to rescue D. H. Lawrence from charges of savagery and from seeming obstacles to his novels' ideals of personal growth. Burns thinks that Friedrich Waismann's notion of open texture, like the later Wittgenstein's ways of talking about ordinary language, will help us to assess Lawrence more fairly. Talk of this aim runs through the book, but Burns bizarrely delays explaining these "technical matters" at all adequately until the last, hurried chapter. Second , it is disappointing that a professional philosopher should know Lawrence's confusing texts so well, but not spend more time on the disambiguation of cru- Shorter Reviews235 cial terms as they occur in many works. For when Burns does try this, there is useful light. Finally, a denizen of the Planet of the Apes, knowing nothing of Lawrence but the quotations and comments of this book, would gain only a faint soupçon of the novels' fire, wit, and lyric beauty. Something is lost: here a howling genius sounds unduly sober. Nevertheless, I was often delighted by Burns's travels through Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature (chap. 2), then through The White Peacock and Sons and Lovers (chap. 3), The Rainbow (chap. 4), Women in Love (chap. 5), and Lady Chatterley's Lover (chap. 6). The author makes stimulating use of those Studies to attempt giving a balanced account (representing Lawrence at his very best) of Lawrencian views on the "real self," "the Holy Ghost," "the dark forest," "blood consciousness," "a third principle which lies deeper than either blood or mind" (p. 23). Lawrence emerges as neither Flintstone nor Fascist, but as a sometimes not too inconsistent advocate of creative balance in the self, of progress in moral views, and of improvements in human relationships. In chapters 4-6 Burns makes an intriguing case forjudging The Rainbow and Women in Love not just to be among Lawrence's very Finest works, but also to present his best questions about nature and culture; about improving individual lives in the nexus of less inhuman societies. He argues...