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The significance of travel in the writings of D.H. Lawrence often seems to reflect the author’s sense of values; the troubled internal struggles of itinerant protagonists frequently seem related to the restless, wandering existence that marked much of the author’s later career. In many ways, as well, the peculiar ideals espoused by some of his leading characters may have been derived from the writer’s quest for exotic and primordial antecedents to modern mores in locations where traces of older cultures could still be found. Lawrence’s compact volume of travel notes about Mexico is of some interest for those concerned with the writer’s biography; reflections of concerns that were explored more fully in his fiction may be found in this effort as well. The work is a bright, charming, and occasionally witty series of sketches drawn from Lawrence’s personal observations; in other respects, it casts some light on the author’s conception of the ultimate impulses and imperatives with which human nature must reckon. In some ways, Mornings in Mexico illustrates the complexity of Lawrence’s attitudes toward the seemingly timeless practices of ancient peoples.

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Altogether, with the exception of some time he spent on a return visit to England and Europe, Lawrence’s sojourn in the New World lasted from September, 1922, until September, 1925; during much of this period he remained in Taos, New Mexico. In March, 1923, he set forth, in the company of his wife and other friends, on a tour of Mexican cities, which lasted for about four months; further travels ensued in the autumn of that year, and from October, 1924, until March, 1925, another journey brought Lawrence and his companions into Mexico once again. To the south, in Oaxaca, he rented a house for the winter. The work commences with a description of sights and sounds in that city during the week before Christmas, 1924. Additional chapters deal with other times of the year. Rather than presenting a continuous narrative account, the book provides a series of impressions from episodes that struck Lawrence as particularly interesting or diverting. Some descriptive passages may have served as working exercises for Lawrence’s major and controversial novel The Plumed Serpent (1926); other portions, it has sometimes been charged, were attached in a somewhat haphazard fashion, for the sake of variety. Although Mornings in Mexico did not provoke pronounced reactions among critics, some reviewers found it admirable for its sense of place; others received it with some bemusement. While in some quarters it was regarded as more palatable than Lawrence’s fictional works, there were those who found the organization and choice of materials arbitrary and disjointed. One commentator, writing for The New York Times Book Review, pronounced it required reading for members of Congress who had to deal with Latin American developments. Most readers, however, probably found it significant for its literary qualities. Some excerpts from Mornings in Mexico later were used in manuals of expository writing to illustrate the means by which narrative pace had been brought into harmony with the settings and subjects Lawrence had set out to depict.

Bibliography

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 169

Brett, Dorothy. Lawrence and Brett: A Friendship, 1933.

Bynner, Witter. Journey with Genius: Recollections and Reflections Concerning the D.H. Lawrences, 1951.

Cavitch, David. D. H. Lawrence and the New World, 1969.

Clark, L.D. “D.H. Lawrence and the American Indian,” in The D.H. Lawrence Review. IX, no. 3 (1976), pp. 305-372.

Fay, Eliot. Lorenzo in Search of the Sun: D.H. Lawrence in Italy, Mexico, and the American Southwest, 1953.

Janik, Del Ivan. The Curve of Return: D.H. Lawrence’s Travel Books, 1981.

Martin, Dexter. “D.H. Lawrence and Pueblo Religion: An Inquiry into Accuracy,” in The Arizona Quarterly. IX, no. 3 (1953), pp. 219-234.

Nehls, Edward H., ed. D.H. Lawrence: A Composite Biography. Vol. 2, 1958.

Parmenter, Ross. Lawrence in Oaxaca: A Quest for the Novelist in Mexico, 1957-1959.

Rossman, Charles. “D.H. Lawrence and Mexico,” in D.H. Lawrence: A Centenary Consideration, 1985. Edited by Peter Balbert and Phillip L. Marcus.

Tracy, Billy T., Jr. D.H. Lawrence and the Literature of Travel, 1983.

Walker, Ronald G. Infernal Paradise: Mexico and the Modern English Novel, 1978.

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