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  • Valedictory Volume: Cambridge Lawrence
  • Peter Balbert
D. H. Lawrence. The Vicar’s Garden and Other Stories. N. H. Reeve, ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. xxxvii + 265 pp. $125.00

With this Fascinating, valedictory volume from the justly praised Cambridge editions of the works of D. H. Lawrence, a major aspect of this ambitious scholarly project is virtually complete after nearly three decades of publishing all of the writer’s extant short fiction. As the editor of The Vicar’s Garden and Other Stories, N. H. Reeve has assembled an intelligently designed and tightly integrated collection of fiction within a limited but valuable framework, as this work “collects together manuscript and other early versions of thirteen of D. H. Lawrence’s short stories, including some of the best known as well as many which have never been published before.” As with other editions in this uniform and authoritative series, the editor supplies precise and clarifying explanatory notes as well as a textual apparatus that lists (without commentary) the variants between manuscript and later versions of the respective tales. [End Page 504]

The introduction remains especially impressive, for it provides both succinct list-summaries as well as narrative recapitulations of the various versions and states of the fiction in this volume; such convenient indexing helps to sort out some complex issues of chronology, priority, and provenance involving manuscripts, ribbon-copies, revisions, proofs, and magazine and book publication. Reeve wisely does not reiterate much of the relevant research from the fine introductions in the three Cambridge editions (The Prussian Office, Love Among the Haystacks, and England My England) that contain the final versions of these stories, since he limits his biographical discussion to precise issues that bear upon the creation and revision of the stories in question. It is fair to say that the publication of The Vicar’s Garden is a major event in Lawrence studies, for several of the manuscript and proof versions are published here for the first time, and early versions of tales that only appeared in journals in England and/or the United States nearly a century ago also are republished in this important collection.

Reeve presents the works in chronological order based on the dates of the first version of each tale, and this sequencing logic permits individual stories to be followed immediately by succeeding versions that span the years 1907–1919. The introduction is divided into five sections that stipulate time frames and biographical categories for the works within each section. The first and earliest is “1907: Early Stories,” and it contains six works from the autumn of that year submitted by Lawrence to fiction contests as he first started to write short stories—an apprentice period before any of his work had been published: two early and strikingly different versions of “The Shadow in the Rose Garden”—the first titled “The Vicar’s Garden” (1907), the second “The Shadow in the Rose Garden” as published in America in Smart Set magazine in 1914; version 1 of “A Fragment of Stained Glass,” entitled “A Page from the Annals of Gresleia” (1907), and version 2 of the story, with the title changed to “Ruby Glass” (1907); version 1 and version 2 of “The White Stocking”—the first from 1907, the second from 1914. The second chronological section, “1909–1911: ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums,’” includes exciting additions to the already rich evidence of revisions to this story: version 2 (uncorrected proofs, 1910), and version 3, (corrected proofs, 1911).

The third section, “1911: Croydon Stories,” contains two stories “that were first written in Croydon” and that “had their origins in Lawrence’s relationship with two different women.” The first story is version 1 (1911) of what would become “Witch a la Mode,” and in the early state [End Page 505] it has the title “Intimacy,” with the Margaret Varley character recognizably based on Helen Cork. The second tale is the first version of “The Shades of Spring,” with the title in 1911 of “The Harassed Angel,” based primarily on an eventful visit Jessie Chambers made to Croydon in December of that year. The fourth section, “1913–1914: Earning a Living,” only includes “Vin Ordinaire,” which is the first...


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pp. 504-509
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