Letter to the editor of NY Times

Posted: December 28, 2005, 00:00
Here is a letter to the editor of NY Times from King:

From the NY Times
Published: December 25, 2005

Man in Love

To the Editor:

The problem with Francine Prose's review of "D. H. Lawrence: The Life of an Outsider" (Dec. 4) isn't that she came to Lawrence through a book ("Lady Chatterley's Lover") she glommed from her Dad's sock drawer, or that she seems not to have renewed her acquaintance with Lawrence's work since her undergraduate days; the problem is her not uncommon assumption that she may be better able to understand a great writer by reading about him than by reading him.

A critical examination of Lawrence's work makes it possible to understand that by saying explicitly what Thomas Hardy only implied in "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" and "Jude the Obscure" - that marriage is the heart of modern society, and sex is the heart of marriage - Lawrence novels such as "The Rainbow" (published long before "Lady Chatterley") were almost certain to be suppressed. But that is a dry bone indeed, and antithetical to everything for which Lawrence lived. It was feeling he cared for, and the heart at which he aimed, not the loins that attracted Prose's attention as a teenager.

I suspect Lawrence would have clutched his head at the idea of anyone turning to biography as a way of finding "new ways of understanding" his work. Prose might have done better to glance at one of Lawrence's poems - also titled "The Rainbow," and probably not coincidentally. It closes with these radiant lines:

But the one thing that is bow-legged
and can't put its feet together
is the rainbow.

Because one foot is the heart of a man
and the other is the heart of a woman.
And these two, as you know,
never meet.

Save they leap
high -
Oh hearts, leap high!
- they touch in mid-heaven like an acrobat
and make a rainbow.

The writer's rainbow is always found in his work, and students seeking gold would thus do well to start there.

Bangor, Me.