In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS Finnegans Wake, shows how much more work needs to be done in terms of reading protocols and historical understandings of audiences. But it also shows how one can constructively read Joyce by way of the histories of his real, imagined, and targeted audiences. MOSHE GOLD __________________ Fordham University Lawrence & Classic American Literature D. H. Lawrence. Studies in Classic American Literature. Ezra Greenspan, Lindeth Vasey, and John Worthen, eds. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. lxxix + 632 pp. $110 THE EDITORS of Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature certainly had their work cut out for them. As in the case of the three versions of Lady Chatterley's Lover, revision of these essays resulted in major differences among as many as three versions, written and revised over a period of 1917 to 1923. In addition, Lawrence often copied errors without correcting them. These essays grew out of Lawrence's interest in traveling to the New World as early as 1915, when he began to dismiss England as a dead tree and to look for a site for Rananim, his experimental community, Florida being one possibility. As readers are reminded, when the essays appeared together in 1923 (some published earlier in journals), the term "American classics" was still an oxymoron, not only in Britain but also in the United States, where the notion of studying American writers was radically "modern." Lawrence read Moby-Dick in early 1916 and raved about its greatness well before the Melville boom began in the States with the publication of Raymond Weaver's biography in 1921. The year 1915 was a watershed for Lawrence because it became clear the Great War would not end quickly; more importantly, in that year his first great novel The Rainbow was banned, depressing his ambitions to support himself through his writing. By 1917, with the war grinding on, Lawrence and Frieda planned to "escape" from England, where their opposition to the War made them virtual prisoners because she was German and both were suspected of being spies. Rather than simply allowing them to leave, the authorities found, or created, difficulties in their passports, and even after the war ended, it was 1922 before they accepted Mabel Dodge Luhan's invitation to Taos. By the time Lawrence completed the final versions of these essays, he had experienced enough of the New World for skepticism and disappointment to shadow his earlier respect for these American classics. 484 ELT 47 : 4 2004 The difficulties for the Cambridge editors of this 632-page volume are duplicated for its reviewers, since the task is tantamount to discussing two or even three separate, albeit related, texts. One strategy might be to examine several "studies" in the earliest and final versions. Prime candidates are the Hawthorne, Melville and Whitman essays. The Scarlet Letter essay demonstrates the radical changes this text underwent. Its first version, "Nathaniel Hawthorne," represents fairly conventional literary criticism. Lawrence's signature is apparent in the psychology of ganglia and plexuses, to appear as The Psychology of the Unconscious and Fantasy of the Unconscious, his response to Freud. Lawrence reads The Scarlet Letter in the context of the Fall, focusing on Hester Prynne as seductress. "Hawthorne is a philosopher as well as an artist," "a master of symbology," "a master of serpent subtility," "a sorcerer , a real seer of darkness"—all quite respectful. Generalizing that The Scarlet Letter is "one of the wonder-books of the world"—in an intermediate version he will call it "a profound and wonderful book, one of the eternal revelations"—Lawrence goes on to call it "somewhat detestable, because of its duplicity," faulting Hawthorne for "pious preaching . . . whilst underneath is the lurid lust in sin, the gloating in the overthrow of that which is so praised." The final version of "Nathaniel Hawthorne" has been expanded to become two essays. The essay on The Scarlet Letter features a later Lawrence , writing as the reader of his own earlier text, and a dramatically negative reader at that! This Lawrence is reminiscent of the more postmodern personae oÃ- The Fantasia of the Unconscious or Mr. Noon: self-consciously polemical, provocative, and outrageous, perhaps to shock readers into attending to his analysis...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 484-488
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.