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D. H. LAWRENCE: THE CRUSADER AS CRITIC
By Aruna Sitesh
Macmillan India, 1975, 132, 45.00

VOLUME I NUMBER 3 July - September 1976

Doctoral dissertations, especially in our time, have a strange habit of finding their way into print. Most of these do not seem to have serious academic value; many of them are not read anyway and are really the products of extra-academic compulsions (one of which is the famous, no longer transatlantic ‘publish or perish’). In recent memory there have been classics like Poets and Poetry and Critics and Criticism with which students here, in different ways are familiar. The book under review, of course, does not fan into the above; category, except in so far as it was originally a doctoral thesis submitted at Allahabad University. For one thing, the book has certain major strengths. It bears the stamp of a reputed publishing house and carries a Foreword by the noted Lawrence scholar, Harry T. Moore. Aruna Sitesh has made an exhaustive study of Lawrence's criticism, which has an informal, inconclusive quality, scattered over his essays, book re­views, letters and sometimes even his novels. His doctrinaire vision of life is what really unifies all his work and Aruna Sitesh isolates this vision and dis­cusses Lawrence's criticism in terms of it. She does not try to place Lawrence in any literary traditions. One feels, however, that his affinities with Arnold's view that literature is a criticism of life should have been highlighted and discussed in greater detail. After all, the real significance of Lawrence's major work lies in its poetic evaluation of a society in transition at the turn of the century, and not in his image of a revolutionary bearded satyr. Writing on Lawrence's criticism can prove to be a pretty tricky job, especially as his criticism could be dogmatically tiresome and too often violently repetitious. Time and again Aruna Sitesh finds herself, even when she is not quoting him, trapped into using Lawrence’s own words. This is probably the outcome of a desire on her part to limit the scope of her study to an evaluation of Lawrence’s theories per se. A great deal is lost thereby, as an attempt to relate Lawrence's theories, especially about the novel, to his practice as an artist would reveal much more about the breakaway he made from convention than, as in this study, a mere elu­cidation of theories already well known. The chapter entitled Lawrence's Theoretical Criti­cism is a case in point. The implications of Law­...


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