Kangaroo was Lawrence’s first novel written outside Europe; given the attitude to community, to England and Europe, to women and to its readers shown by Aaron’s Rod, it is natural to wonder what relationship with the past, with Europe, with its audience, with the very idea of what a novel should be, could possibly be shown by its successor. But such questions have not in general been asked of Kangaroo—it has not been taken so seriously. Criticism has preferred to think of it as disorganised, self-indulgent and arbitrary; it suffers from ‘a carelessness of “form” which goes almost beyond Aaron’s Rod’,1 ‘it isn’t really a novel but a special kind of production’,2 it ‘flounders on, with its built-in apologies to the reader … Lawrence is no longer interested in this novel. If you lose faith in men, then you lose it in your own readers, and inevitably, in your own art.’3 The fact that the first draft of Kangaroo was mostly written in six weeks is in itself enough for many critics—‘a remarkable work … considering it was written in only about six weeks’;4 it is assumed that its oddities are the result of carelessness, and its descriptive power that of purely incidental genius.


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  1. 2.
    H. T. Moore, The Priest of Love (London: Heinemann, 1974), p. 351.Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    Compton Mackenzie, Octave Five (London: Chatto & Windus, 1966), p. 167.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    Catherine Carswell, The Savage Pilgrimage, 1st ed. (London: Chatto & Win-dus, 1932), pp. 38–9.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    Henry James to Howard Sturgis, 05 viii 1914; in The Letters of Henry James, ed. P. Lubbock, 2 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1920), II, 398.Google Scholar

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© John Worthen 1979

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  • John Worthen

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