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DH Lawrence

‘Other biographers write about him as if he were a normal person, not the weirdest man who ever lived.’ So says Frances Wilson, British author of the book Burning Man (Bloomsbury), a radical new biography of the captivating and contentious D.H. Lawrence. Geordie Williamson, who reviewed Burning Man for ABR’s August issue, described it as a ‘meta-biography’ that is ‘lovely on the page, often thrilling in its daring’. In today’s episode, Wilson sits down with ABR Editor Peter Rose to discuss the complexities of writing about the enigmatic Lawrence. 

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Why ‘burning man’? Because in this immense, obsessive, studiously unkempt work, the biographer brings accelerant to the raging bonfire that is D.H. Lawrence’s reputation and pours it with pyromaniacal glee. Frances Wilson’s new life of the writer stands athwart the accumulated crimes of which Lawrence stands accused – his obstreperousness, his intense and absurd hatreds, his dubious politics, the physical and metaphysical violence he committed against women – and demands a halt to the trial.

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Readers who expect to be treated with gentlemanly courtesy have always found D. H. Lawrence rough going. His explicit fictional representations of sex and his anti-war diatribes were widely condemned in his lifetime, and his novels were duly censored or withdrawn from sale in Britain and beyond. Lawrence’s prose style – lyrical and sensuous one moment, brusque a ...

When D.H. Lawrence arrived in Australia on 4 May 1922, he was so ignorant of the country's actual conditions that he was, as David Game observes ...

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Publishers are like invisible ink. Their imprint is in the mysterious appearance of books on shelves. This explains their obsession with crime novels.

To some authors they appear as good fairies, to others the Brothers Grimm. Publishers can be blamed for pages that fall out (Look ma, a self-exploding paperback!), for a book’s non-appearance at a country town called Ulmere. For appearing too early or too late for review. For a book being reviewed badly, and thus its non-appearance – in shops, newspapers and prized shortlistings.

As an author, it’s good therapy to blame someone and there’s nothing more cleansing than to blame a publisher. I know, because I’ve done it myself. A literary absolution feels good the whole day through.

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