The Theatre of D.H. Lawrence

James Moran

DOI: 10.5040/9781472570413

ISBN: 9781472570376

This is the first major book-length study for four decades to examine the plays written by D. H. Lawrence, and the first ever book to give an in-depth analysis of Lawrence's interaction with the theatre industry during the early twentieth century. It connects and examines his performance texts and explores his reaction to a wide-range of theatre (from the sensation dramas of working-class Eastwood to the ritual performances of the Pueblo people) in order to explain Lawrence's contribution to modern drama.

F. R. Leavis influentially labelled the writer 'D. H. Lawrence: Novelist'. But this book foregrounds Lawrence's career as a playwright, exploring unfamiliar contexts and manuscripts, and drawing particular attention to his three most successful works: The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd, The Daughter-in-Law and A Collier's Friday Night. It examines how Lawrence's novels are suffused with theatrical thinking, revealing how Lawrence's fictions – from his first published work to the last story that he wrote before his death – continually take inspiration from the playhouse.

This book also argues that although Lawrence has sometimes been dismissed as a restrictively naturalistic stage writer, his overall oeuvre shows a consistent concern with theatrical experiment, and manifests affinities with the dramatic thinking of modernist figures including Brecht, Artaud, and Joyce. In a final section, the book includes contributions from influential theatre-makers who have taken their own cue from Lawrence's work, and who have created original work that consciously follows Lawrence in making working-class life central to the public forum of the theatre stage.

'Moran provides a thorough discussion of the working dynamics of [Lawrence's] plays and displays a keen affinity for demonstrating the theatrical dependency of Lawrence's novels. After an introductory overview of Lawrence and his cultural milieu, Moran devotes chapters to Lawrence's transition into playwriting, his difficulties with the genre, specific correlations with his novels, and his maturation as a dramatist. … Replete with notes and an extended bibliography, Moran's study enhances appreciation of an important facet of Lawrence's artistry. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.' CHOICE

'[A] useful companion to the theatrical works.' Times Literary Supplement