There is nothing in Mr Noon to suggest that it is the Robert Burns novel which Lawrence projected in December 1912, though its ‘spooning’ was probably sufficient to disqualify it for the serialization he had contemplated (4.iv.21). If one wishes to find Lawrence relaxed, enjoying himself at length, and taking nothing human seriously, not even love, this fragment can be recommended for light, casual reading. It is a literary spree, at times in a manner almost reminiscent of Laurence Sterne; Lawrence thought it ‘very comical’. The story is trivialized; the narrative is tenuous at times; the ‘dear reader’ humour is overdone: yet verve and wit continually well up, so much so that the non-publishing of the additional sections which have been discovered is regrettable. The subject was probably suggested by the vivacious style of the early chapters of The Lost Girl, in association with memories of Eastwood, for Lawrence began Mr Noon only a few days after completing that novel, and included Alvina Houghton in a memorable chapel scene. Most of it is treated episodically. The hero is based on George Neville (though Gilbert Noon was a contemporary student with Lawrence at the Ilkeston pupil-teacher centre), and one or two stories which Lawrence heard from the Hopkins are included.
KeywordsLiterary Criticism Open Road Life Intelligence Foreign Legion Local Peasant
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