22 MAY 1926, Page 22


Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine. By D. H. Lawrence. (The Centaur Press. 17s. 6d.) " ILtvE you read D. H. Lawrence's last book ? " " Yes," replied the reviewer, " didn't you think the scene at the bull fight was quite thrilling ? " " Bull fight," said the first speaker " what are •you talking about ? That was in The Flumea Serpent, which was published ten days ago ; I mean Lawrence's last book, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine." " Oh," said the reviewer humbly. His confusion was covered by a third person who was standing by," and who scornfully remarked : " The Death of a Porcupine ? Oh no, that isn't Lawrence's last book : his play, David, was published thiS morning ! "

Mr. D. H. Lawrence is an author of almost inconceivable fertility ; novels, plays, essays burst from him in an unending cataract, and the halting reviewer need make no •apology for reviewing " the- book before the last," when it is sure to have only been published a few days. As a matter of fact, we gather that most of the papers in the volume under review are •reprints from periodicals, and that their appearance at the same moment as Mr. Lawrence's other two works is Merely a coincidence. But it would be a thousand pities if those works were allowed to obscure these robust and intensely

amusing essays. Sometimes, indeed, Mr. Lawrence is amusini intentionally, sometimes unintentionally : we do not know which we enjoy the more. Whole pages of " The Crown," the first essay in this book, are to us completely unintelligible ; but the rhetoric is magnificent. On the other hand, his essay called " The Novel," is lucidity, and impudence, itself, except perhaps when Mr. Lawrence's feelings become so intense that prose- fails him, and he breaks into limericks The later essays bear such titles as " Him With His Tail in His Mouth," " Blessed . are the Powerful," and " Aristocracy." The names alone tell us that we have to do with things which could- never have been written but for Nietzsche. The doc- trine of " the eternal return of all things " and the superman doctrine, are together the basis.of Mr. Lawrence's thought ; al- though like every disciple worth his salt, he probably hotly repudiates his master. We have no space for quotation except for a few words from Mr. Lawrence's preface which are worth repeating. He evidently sums up his present position in them :—

" It is no use trying merely to modify present forms. The whole great form of our era will have to go. And nothing will really send it down but the new shoots of life springing up and slowly bursting the foundations. And one can do nothing, but fight tooth and nail to defend the new shoots of life from being crushed out, and let them grow. We can't make life. We can but fight for the life that grows in us.'

The whole book is filled with absurdities, crudities, and extravagances, but every now and then we come on passages for which we would forgive a thousand faults, worse than any one that Mr. Lawrence was ever guilty of.