When, in 1917, D. H. Lawrence published a book of poems about his early married life entitled Look! We Have Come Through!, Bertrand Russell remarked, “I am glad they have come through but why should I look?” Brenda Maddox tells us why: because an understanding of Lawrence’s marriage is central to an understanding of his achievements as a writer. The unsatisfactory nature of his own parents’ marriage is notorious, while his wife’s first marriage, to his modern-languages professor at Nottingham University College, was a humdrum alliance made tolerable only by her frequent adulteries. An ideal of marriage was, for both of them, something to be created from scratch, not copied on an existing model. Yet in the last year of his life, Lawrence could produce, in A Propos of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover, one of the greatest hymns to marriage that was ever written—certainly a finer work...


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