Friday, September 20, 2013

Love and Ideas Down Under

by D.H. Lawrence

I am a fool," said Richard Lovat, which was the most frequent discovery
he made. It came, moreover, every time with a new shock of surprise and
chagrin. Every time he climbed a new mountain range and looked over, he
saw, not only a new world, but a big anticipatory fool on this side of
it, namely, himself.”  ― D.H. Lawrence, Kangaroo 

Kangaroo is an account of a visit to New South Wales by an English writer named Richard Lovat Somers, and his German wife Harriet, in the early 1920s. This appears to be semi-autobiographical, based on a three-month visit to Australia by Lawrence and his wife Frieda, in 1922. 
 The titular kangaroo is the central image of this novel. Somers travels to Australia in search of traditional cultural values. He finds, based on his experience there, a dichotomy between the spirit of the place and the character of its people. In spite of strange place names and the strangeness of the sky and seasons he does not sense the cultural differences from modern Europe for which he is searching. "Kangaroo" is the fictional nickname of one of Lawrence's characters, Benjamin Cooley, a prominent ex-soldier and lawyer, who is also the leader of a secretive, fascist paramilitary organization, the "Diggers Club". Cooley fascinates Somers, but he maintains his distance from the movement itself.
 While rejecting Cooley Somers finds what he is looking for in the Australian kangaroo - an image that embodies his ideals. The novel is rich in ideas epitomized by the awareness of the sovereignty of the individual's power over self, his "extraordinary privilege of responsibility". Nietzsche's influence is seen in the idea of "master and slave" found in the Genealogy of Morals and its relation to the discussions in the novel. This is a somewhat disorganized novel, but one rich in ideas which carry the reader forward throughout.

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Parrish Lantern said...

It's been a few years since I've read any Lawrence, beside the poetry. But I do recall enjoying them.

James said...

This one is very different than Women in Love or The Rainbow. Nonetheless it is an interesting read.

Brian Joseph said...

I have not read this one but I love the Lawrence novels that I have read so far. His works are so brimming with ideas about the self.

SAs far as organization I found that The Rainbow, which is my favorite of the ones that I read, to be the most intellectually coherent.