One’s understanding of D. H. Lawrence cannot be considered complete without a careful perusal of The Collected Letters. For there is a side of Lawrence that, while it is found elsewhere, receives its fullest expression only in the letters—a side that, beneath all the tensions of his life, is cheerful, optimistic, affirmative. Lawrence’s belief in the ultimate sanctity of physical being finds its embodiment not only in formal essays and narratives, but in these informal meditations that reflect his day-to-day existence.
This aspect had already been revealed in 1932, when Aldous Huxley published an impressive collection of Lawrence letters. Moore draws heavily on Huxley’s edition in the expanded collection. Appearing less than two years after Lawrence’s death, the Huxley book was a great achievement, and many Lawrence scholars have an almost sentimental attachment to the pioneer volume of letters. But the time has long been ripe for a more comprehensive collection, one that would include not only many unpublished letters, but items in the myriad volumes of memoirs and biographies. The Collected Letters, however, is scarcely complete; no collection could be. Many letters will still have to be consulted in the Huxley volume and from other sources; secondary items and duplicative letters were, as Moore ruefully points out, excised.
The earliest item is a postcard dated 1903, shortly after Lawrence had turned eighteen. At...
(The entire section is 1579 words.)
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