Drawing on nearly 2,000 previously unpublished letters, Brenda Maddox presents a rich and startlingly new portrait of D. H. Lawrence: a hilarious mimic, a lover of nature, an inspired teacher, a brilliant journalist, an ecological visionary, and, above all - a married man.This award-winning work examines Lawrence's perplexing, restless life through the greatest contradiction in it - his marriage - taking it not just as another aspect of Lawrence but as the encompassing whole. His marriage to Frieda von Richthofen Weekley was a mismatch made in heaven, and yet it lasted until the tubercular Lawrence lost his heroic struggle for life, a struggle in which, he told Frieda, "nothing mattered but you." Or so she claimed.
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Brenda Maddox is an award-winning biographer whose work has been translated into ten languages. Nora: A Biography of Nora Joyce, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Silver PEN Award, and the French Prix du Mailleur Livre Etranger. Her life of D. H. Lawrence won the Whitbread Biography Award in 1974, and Yeats's Ghosts, on the married life of W. B. Yeats, was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 1998. She has been Home Affairs Editor for the Economist, has served as chairman of the Association of British Science Writers and is a member of the Royal Society's Science and Society Committee. She lives in London and Mid-Wales.From Kirkus Reviews:
Maddox (Nora, 1988) focuses on Lawrence's tumultuous union with a German aristocrat as the major factor goading him to his artistic quantum leaps. The working-class literary novice from the Midlands could not have found a more exotic wife than Frieda von Richthofen Weekley. A sexually adventurous woman with links to the radical culture in Germany (Nietzsche, expressionism, anarchism, and psychoanalysis), Frieda gave up her English husband and three children to join Lawrence in his intercontinental travels. Many of Lawrence's friends found Frieda crude and sententious in contrast to her charming, charismatic husband (who later turned out near-libelous caricatures of them in his books), but throughout the Lawrences' turbulent married life their guests and hosts would be treated, alternately, to scenes of the couple's contented domesticity and Lawrence's appalling abuse, both verbal and physical. The marriage was a childless one, and Frieda sacrificed a role in the lives of her children from her first marriage to Lawrence's emotional needs. Frieda's devoted adoration of Lawrence as a literary genius was balanced by her own conceited ambition to serve as his companion and inspiration, a job for which few others had the stamina. Despite her infidelities, sexual demands, and jealousy, Lawrence found in her enough feminine stimulation to fuel his creativity over a lifetime. While Maddox underplays his Midlands background, she perceptively handles Lawrence's pathological denial of his tuberculosis and his homosexual ambivalence, as well as his flawed literary output and incoherent philosophy. Her new material includes such surprises as an affair the previously presumed monogamous Lawrence had in Italy and his ambiguous relationship with the homosexual Maurice Magnus, for whose posthumous memoir he provided a notorious introduction. The story Maddox tells is one of continuous emotional skirmishes between two highly contradictory personalities, each lacking self-knowledge, each obsessed with the other. She tells it judiciously and well. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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