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BOOK REVIEWS everything that has come before. Reading this knowledgeable book, I begin to wonder what liminal world might be swirling through. Ghostly texts flicker and disappear on screens, disembodied voices speak in unending succession, music beats and trills in wanted and unwanted forms, motors hum in relentless cacophony. As inhabitants of this tense present, we may, indeed, feel ourselves being ghostwritten. Charlotte Mandel ------------------------ Cedar Grove, New Jersey Cambridge Companion: D. H. Lawrence Anne Fernihough. The Cambridge Companion to D. H. Lawrence. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. xx + 292 pp. Cloth $54.95 Paper $19.95 ANNE FERNIHOUGH'S Cambridge Companion to D. H. Lawrence joins several dozen other Cambridge Companions. The collection is organized, as are others in the series, with a section offering essays on individual texts, or generic categories such as poetry or drama, followed by a section with more global issues such as Lawrence and modernism or psychoanalysis. Because the collection is structured according to an established format, this "companion" does not confront two critical questions : Is it actually feasible to construct a "companion to" a writer whose literary productivity is as diverse as Lawrence's? And if such a companion is aimed toward a generalist reader, or perhaps even an undergraduate student audience, how might its contributors most effectively "introduce" the work of a prolific writer like Lawrence? Furthermore, such a companion to Lawrence faces the problem of how to accommodate the general perception that when Lawrence is studied at all in the classroom it is often to point out his quite impossible views. Linda Ruth Williams has commented: "Lawrence, perhaps more than any other writer, is feminism's bête noire, the monster it loves to hate." Fernihough seems well aware that even the beginning student of literature might need to be reassured that "reading and writing about Lawrence can be a bewildering and often problematic enterprise." She points to the essays of several contributors as efforts toward confronting the "problems" readers face. Marianna Torgovnick, for example, focuses on the ways in which readers of Lawrence divide themselves into diametrically opposed groups, who accept his views uncritically or reject them completely, something of an oversimplification. The latter camp includes many (non)readers or former readers who sniffily pronounce 99 ELT 46 : 1 2003 their inability/refusal to read/teach Lawrence. Occasionally, academics will say, Oh, I've outgrown Lawrence. "Texts," the first section, is bent on "covering" Lawrence's literary production by surveying his work. Thus, the first chapter discusses the relatively insignificant first two novels (one wonders if anyone is still reading The Trespasser) and gives Sons and Lovers very short shrift—basically, two pages. Torgovnick seems to have been assigned about the same length for The Rainbow, a novel which many would agree runs a tight race with Women in Love for the palm as the author's greatest accomplishment. These first two "chapters" are hardly a propitious launching of the collection, frustrating readers with an appetite for fuller discussions of major twentieth-century novels. Women in Love, probably Lawrence's most important novel, must share attention with "The Prussian Officer" in a rather traditional biographical reading, hearkening back to 1950s psychoanalyzing of Lawrence through his texts—a reminder that even in the heyday of the New Criticism Lawrence 's fiction continued to be read as thinly disguised autobiography. Con Coróneos and Trudi Tate, and Helen Sword are "tasked" with the responsibility for surveying Lawrence's voluminous production in shorter fiction and poetry, respectively. The collection, thus, has some difficulty reconciling its double task of "covering" the author's writing—with the notable exceptions of his essays and letters—and offering opportunities for new readings of major novels such as Torgovnick's focus on Lawrence 's narrating of sexuality in The Rainbow or Shiach's on the subject of work in Lady Chatterley's Lover. Perhaps because Lawrence's writing creates problems for its readers in the academy, the contributors occasionally seem to feel the need to demonstrate that they are not entirely "sympathetic readers" of Lawrence , as though to be "sympathetic" is to lose one's "objectivity" as a political observer of cultural history. Torgovnick addresses "The Lawrence Problem...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 99-103
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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