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Book Reviews D. H. Lawrence D. H. Lawrence. The Rainbow. Mark Kinkead-Weekes, ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. 672 pp. Cloth $79.50 Paper $24.95 Peter Preston and Peter Hoare, eds. D. H. Lawrence in the Modern World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. 221 pp. $34.50 AS ADDITIONAL VOLUMES APPEAR in the Cambridge University Press edition of the works of D. H. Lawrence, their significance for a réévaluation of Lawrence begins to take shape. Critics have found problems with some aspect of each volume in the Cambridge series— from minor quibbles about points in the textual apparatus to major concerns about the choice of a base-text (see, for example, the debate between Charles Ross in Essays in Criticism [October 1988] and Paul Eggert in the D. H. Lawrence Review [Fall 1988]). Nevertheless, these problems pale in comparison to the cumulative impact of the emerging volumes. The philosophy underlying the Cambridge text is close to revolutionary for Lawrence scholarship and criticism, creating new understandings of Lawrence as writer. New understandings of the Lawrence canon will come. The Lawrence who never blotted a line, the Lawrence who was unconcerned with style and had little desire to experiment with language, the Lawrence who rejected the intellect for the heart—these are the images of Lawrence that the Cambridge edition subverts. The Lawrence that the Cambridge edition reveals is a conscious stylist; a daring experimenter in the Modernist tradition; someone who drafted his way to ideas rather than someone who imposed ideas on the text; a richly allusive writer whose work reflects—as well as rejects—the complex history of the culture in which it was created. This Lawrence is not "new," of course, but critics who have argued, for example, that Lawrence is a self-conscious writer will have major new evidence to support their position. Not everyone will be happy. The Cambridge decision "to provide texts which are as close as can now be determined to those [Lawrence] would have wished to see printed" is a matter for debate (and is certainly being debated). As the Cambridge editors point out in their preface, their decision results, paradoxically, in "texts which differ, often radically and certainly frequently, from those seen by the author himself." Some textual critics will never be comfortable with that result. Moreover, the decision complicates the lives of Lawrence readers, critics, and scholars, virtually forcing a consideration of Lawrence's 387 ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 process of writing as well as his product. For the casual reader, for many students, perhaps even for some critics, the significance of at least some of the issues (for example, whether foreign terms should be italicized) will seem arcane, but many of the Cambridge decisions— particularly in their cumulative effect—do modify our understanding not only of Lawrence's composing process but also of Lawrence's major concerns (for example, of his attitudes, in Women in Love, towards homoeroticism). The Lawrence canon emerging from Cambridge is far more complex than the Lawrence canon we currently know. The recently published Cambridge edition of The Rainbow, edited by Mark Kinkead-Weekes, demonstrates both the strengths and weaknesses of the Cambridge decisions—decisions about a base-text and the inclusion of detailed explanatory notes and textual apparatuses . With Women in Love, The Rainbow was extensively rewritten and revised by Lawrence from the first drafts of the single novel, The Sisters, making the editorial decisions about what textual materials to include—and where to include them—extremely difficult. For example , two appendices to the Cambridge Rainbow which deal with Gudrun and Ursula/Ella as adults involved with Gerald Crich and Rupert Birkin (fragments of The Sisters and The Sisters II) seem more appropriately appendices for Women in Love. One conclusion: any reading of the Cambridge Rainbow will be incomplete without a reading of the Cambridge Women in Love. It is the conclusion that John Worthen argued, at the 1989 meeting of the Lawrence Society, about Sons and Lovers: material that will enrich our understanding of Sons and Lovers will appear not only in the Cambridge edition of that novel, but in volumes of the letters, short fiction, poetry, and biography as well...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 387-391
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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