‘I was once told by a publisher that a novel I’d submitted ‘lacked redemption.”

Howard Jacobson:

I could not contain my excitement. (…)

Other assumptions, besides a longing for coherence and reconciliation, lie behind the expectation that novelists must give their readers a bone of redemption to chew on. Chief among these being that a novel should be fair and well-balanced, a mirror of the likeable and acceptable, committing none of the attitudinal sins we refuse to tolerate on campus or in the progressive workplace, or in the marriage bed.

Thus Lawrence was all but wiped from the consciousness of students of English literature in the 1970s as a consequence of Kate Millett and others loading him with the twin accusations of patriarchy and misogyny. Apologists for Lawrence have been so busy ever since proving those accusations unfounded that there’s been little time to argue against their relevance in the first place.


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