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30:4, Reviews BLOOM'S LAWRENCE Harold Bloom, ed. D. H. Lawrence (Modem Critical Views). New York: Chelsea House, 1986. $29.50 Under the general editorship of Harold Bloom, Chelsea House is publishing hundreds of volumes of Modern Critical Views. The prodigious Bloom will write the introduction for each of the volumes. According to the book jacket, The Modern Critical Views will break down into four series: The Critical Cosmos, The Chelsea House Library of Literary Criticism, Modern Critical Interpretations , and The Art of the Critic. It is too soon to evaluate whether the world of Uterary studies needs a new industry, even if the magnate is a figure of Bloom's stature. If this volume is any criteria, the Modern Critical Views is to be a more generous selection of essays than the Prentice-Hall paperbacks in the Twentieth-Century Views series which enjoyed popularity among graduate and undergraduate students in the 1960s and 1970s. For a generation of students those paperbacks had the advantage not only of being usually reliable in selecting major essays and excerpts from important books, but of being inexpensive , a virtue which this series does not have. If one feared that Bloom's selections would favor Yalespeak or deconstruction, then these fears are unwarranted; indeed, they represent traditional humanistic criticism quite generously. Certainly this volume confirms my impression that neither Marxist criticism nor deconstruction has found Lawrence congenial to its ideology of reading. Bloom includes traditional discussions of characters in the novel as well as essays that speak of a biographical Lawrence informing the works discussed. Cumulatively, the book is not only a history of Lawrence criticism but of the history of criticism in the last few decades. Selections represent the traditional humanism of F. R. Leavis, H. M. Daleski, David Cavitch, Louis L. Martz, and Martin Price as well as the modified deconstruction of Margot Norris. What these essays have in common is the assumption that Lawrence writes about anterior reality, including sex, love, and aspects of psychological, physiological, and passionate states of being. As Bloom writes: States of being, modes of consciousness, ambivalences of the wül are represented with a clarity and vividness that are uncanny, because the ease of representation for such difficult apprehensions seems unprecedented in prose fiction. Lawrence at his strongest is an astonishing writer, adept at saying what cannot be said, showing what cannot be shown. (12) Included are selections from major critics supplemented by some pieces from lesser known figures. Bloom might have included a selection from Moynahan's The Deed of Life and Spilka's The Love Ethic of D. H. Lawrence, but I am delighted that he included excellent excerpts from David J. Gordon's D. H. Lawrence as Literary Critic (1966) and David Cavitch's D. H. Lawrence and the New World (1969) as well as selections from such excellent books as George 469 30:4, Reviews Levine's The Realistic Imagination: English Fiction from Frankenstein to Lady Chatterley (1981) and Margot Norris's brilliant 1985 study Beasts of the Modern Imagination: Darwin, Nietzsche, Kafka, Ernst, and Lawrence. Joyce Carol Oates's essay on Women in Love shows the value of critical clarity and conviction , and reminds us that she is not only an important noveUst, but a splendid critic. Ross C Murfin's excellent "Lawrence and SheUey" from his The Poetry of D. H. Lawrence: Texts and Contexts (1983) develops Bloom's argument in the Introduction that Lawrence belongs to the Romantic tradition. Martin Price— like Martz, one of the Yale humanists who has been obscured somewhat by the bright glare of deconstruction—has an excellent selection from his Forms of Life: Character and Moral Imagination in the Novel (1983). To be sure, at times selections lose some of their impact when separated from the context of their books; an example is Norris's fine essay "The Ontology of D. H. Lawrence 's St. Mawr" which is even more impressive as part of her book. Most Laurentians will have read virtually everything included here, but the selection is generally sound. That the Kermode selection is not from his Lawrence book but rather from a lesser known essay makes good sense, in part...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 469-473
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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