D. H. Lawrence: A Biography

by Jef frey Meyers. Knopf$24.05. A very frail child, Lawrence became the darling and confidant of his mother, a self-righteous, phony-genteel woman bitterly resentful of a marriage that she considered beneath her station. She taught her son to despise his lively, independent coal-miner father, although, as that trade went at the turn of the century, Lawrence Senior did well. It was a situation almost guaranteed to produce peculiar character in the son of the mismatched couple, and it did. It was not guaranteed to produce a courageous and innovative author, but it did that too. It also provided that author with certain basic notions and ideals concerning sexual and social relations, and these, as Mr. Meyers demonstrates, he reworked and revised throughout his basically autobiographical fiction. Mr. Meyers has collected a considerable amount of new material on his subject’s background and activities, and while it does not seriously alter the standard view of Lawrence as a man whose attacks on what he considered a sexually frigid, mechanical, hypocritical society kept him in hot water with the authorities, it adds much to one’s understanding of the forces that impelled him to write, and to live, as he did. Mr. Meyers has created an excellent biography of a very complicated man.