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ELT 48 : 3 2005 Thing," celebrating his belief in the organic, revivifying nature of marriage . This last essay includes one of Lawrence's most personally implicating statements in his doctrine, one about which critics and biographers invariably argue concerning its applicability to Lawrence's relationship with Frieda: "The long course of marriage is a long event of perpetual change, in which a man and a woman mutually build up their souls and make themselves whole." To read these wonderful essays, and the many other pieces in this volume , is to reacquaint oneself with the lyrical and visionary brilliance of Lawrence's art—even when the passion and insight are compressed into the limiting format of a newspaper article. PETER BALBERT Trinity University Lawrence Today Barry J. Scherr. D. H. Lawrence Today: Literature, Culture, Politics. New York: Peter Lang, 2004. 457 pp. $81.95 FROM our parents' sage admonitions, we know that one cannot tell a book from its cover. But what of its title: D. H. Lawrence Today! D.H. Lawrence! Yes, the work engages the writer passionately, devotedly , and often, in welcome ways, amply in Lawrence's own words. Barry Scherr makes a compelling case for Lawrence as a "priest of [heterosexual ] love," or better, as its messiah. But the Today of the title is more problematic. With the exception of Harold Bloom, who increasingly becomes the exception that proves the rule, all the Lawrentians who seem to matter to Scherr died with F. R. Leavis in 1978. The picture painted, glumly, angrily, is of an end-of-days scenario, not only for Lawrence, but perhaps for all serious or (as Scherr would have it) apolitical scholarship . One would call his view apocalyptic, but that would imply some sort of hope of resurrection and a new life, of which Scherr seems to have very little. The fruits of his conscientious work are nevertheless real. Scherr's Lawrence is a convincing priest of love, albeit exclusively of the heterosexual , monogamous sort. Scherr offers no apologies to those readers who may find Lawrence dated or boring in this regard; on the contrary, his is an impassioned plea for the lasting human values embodied in Lawrence's vision. At his best moments, Scherr has the man and his work speak eloquently for themselves: She [Ursula] was so new, so wonder-clear, so undimmed. And he [Birkin] was so old, so steeped in heavy memories__[H]is soul was dark and gloomy, it had 378 BOOK REVIEWS only one grain of living hope, like a grain of mustard seed. But this one living grain in him matched the perfect youth in her. "I love you," he whispered as he kissed her, and trembled with pure hope, like a man who was born again to a wonderful, lovely hope far exceeding the bounds of death. ... in his one grain of faith, he was young as she, he was her proper mate. This marriage with her was his resurrection and his life___(chapter 27, Women in Love; D. H. Lawrence Today, 271) That love and marriage are the vessels by which mates ascend to Lawrence 's heaven perhaps goes without saying to veteran Lawrentians; nevertheless, Scherr effectively elucidates Lawrence's love-ethic and demonstrates its essentially religious dimension: the autobiographical Birkin finds "his resurrection and his life" in marriage to Ursula. Lawrence fully intends the profoundly religious connotations of his words. Always, and in ways that (particularly as Scherr sees the contemporary world) matter more than ever, Lawrence is supremely a religious writer. It is his deeply affirmative vision that fundamentally shapes his expression. Scherr is fully appreciative of this passionately hopeful Lawrence: It was very consoling to Birkin, to think this. If humanity ran into a cul de sac, and expended itself, the timeless creative mystery would bring forth some other being, finer, more wonderful, some new, more lovely race.... The game was never up. The mystery of creation was fathomless, infallible, inexhaustible forever.... To be man was as nothing compared to the possibilities of the creative mystery.... (chapter 32, Women in Love; D. H. Lawrence Today, 60) Increasingly as his work evolves, Lawrence, the self-anointed priest of love, identifies God as "the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 378-382
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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