The Many Drafts of D. H. Lawrence: Creative Flux, Genetic Dialogism and the Dilemma of Endings

Bloomsbury, October 15 2020

Exploring draft manuscripts, alternative texts and publishers' typescripts, The Many Drafts of D. H. Lawrence reveals new insights into the writings and writing practices of one of the most important writers of the 20th-century. Focusing on the most productive years of Lawrence's writing life, between 1909 and 1926 – a time that saw the writing of major novels such as Women in Love and the controversial The Plumed Serpent, as well as his first major short story collection – this book is the first to apply ideas and methods from the field of genetic criticism to the archives of this canonical modernist author. By charting Lawrence's writing process the book also highlights how the very distinction between 'process' and 'product' became a central theme in his work.

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Reviews

“In this fascinating and careful study, Morsia explores Lawrence's multi-layered and reflexive practice of writing, a practice in which received notions of what it means to create and finish narrative are constantly questioned. The dialogic approach that Morsia shows is central to Lawrence's technique, with its reroutings, rewritings and serial revisions, opens up new perspectives not only on his work but also on that of other modernist and postmodernist authors. This rich and rewarding book will appeal not only to students of Lawrence but to anyone interested in the practice of writing.” –  Darian Leader, psychoanalyst and author

“Morsia's exposure of the 'familiar teleological slant' of much writing on Lawrence's works gives him access to a revealing genetic approach to Lawrence's writing processes. This is an important theoretical step forward for Lawrence criticism and, more generally, supplies a new role for close-reading in literary studies, especially as applied to the early versions of Lawrence's novels and his struggle to settle on endings.” –  Paul Eggert, Emeritus Professor at UNSW Canberra, Australia, and editorial theorist, scholarly editor and book historian


“Manuscript-based criticism of D. H. Lawrence's fiction has hitherto been heavily influenced by biography and affected by organicist and constructivist notions of authorship which see a text as steadily improving through its different drafts. The Many Drafts of D. H. Lawrence offers a refreshing challenge to this orthodoxy. Elliott Morsia argues that we should dispense with teleological models of authorship and instead see Lawrence's writing practice as essentially dialogical, with each new iteration of a text entering into a dialogue with earlier ones rather than displacing them. He presents a new image of Lawrence as a thoroughly self-reflexive writer who was preoccupied with fluidity and stasis, process and finality, at both thematic and formal levels.” –  Andrew Harrison, Director of the D. H. Lawrence Research Centre, University of Nottingham, UK

 

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