Doctor of Philosophy
University of Wollongong. Dept. of English
Davis, Joseph Lenehan, Place, pastoral and the politics of the personal: a semi genre-based exploration of D.H. Lawrence's Kangaroo, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Wollongong. Dept. of English, University of Wollongong, 1992. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/1372
The thesis argues that Kangaroo is both an unnoticed example of the modern pastoral novel and a development of those variants of the pastoral genre which Renato Poggioli has designated 'pastorals of solitude'.1 While another critic, John Alcorn, has previously made a courageous start in identifying Aaron's Rod as a 'pastoral travel novel',2 it is the primary aim of this thesis to explore D.H. Lawrence's Kangaroo as an example of Lawrence's continuing utilization and development of the pastoral conventions with which he began his career as a novelist in The White Peacock.
Its task is to examine the ways in which Lawrence, while developing a formally adventurous and politically revolutionary novel, wedded his peculiar notions of place with many of the techniques of traditional pastoral. While Lawrence m a y have undertaken this development of the 'form' of the novel in order to achieve an obliquely satiric critique of modern political life and democratic suburban living, along with a jaundiced exploration of the consequences of conventional political entanglement for the sensitive individual, it is a primary intention of this thesis to keep in sight the idyll he created in doing so. Moreover, because of Lawrence's 'pastoral' depiction of an actual locality in Kangaroo, an attempt has also been made to shed light on the connections between Lawrence's depiction of Thirroul as 'Mullumbimby' and his notion of the 'spirit of place'.
Rather than suggesting that Lawrence achieved a completely new literary 'form' in Kangaroo, however, the thesis argues that Lawrence really only succeeded in exploding existing forms of the political novel. In Kangaroo, this is managed in such a way that the conventions of linear narrative are re-ordered in a highly unorthodox fashion, one that enables Lawrence to accommodate such 'disruptive' and 'out of place1 reminiscences as 'The Nightmare', along with various other narrative intrusions,in order to give the reader a stronger sense of the flux and the chaos which more closely approximates the way life is actually live.
Furthermore, the thesis attempts to show that if Lawrence's manipulation of the device of a narrative voice which identifies itself with 'the spirit of the place' and play with the loose set of tropes which characterize the modern pastoral novel are made the focus of the examination then Kangaroo takes on a unity, and a seriousness of purpose, which explores deeply, and in a satisfying and relatively orderly manner, the competing attractions of urban political commitment and retirement into rural-coastal solitude. In addition, the thesis stresses that it is the conventional pastoral contrasts old world and new world, city and country, which enable this theme to be given its fullest expression
its cue from Michael Wilding's introduction to Political Fictions,2' part of the essential task of the thesis is to identify an additional tension between romance and realism in Kangaroo, thereby positing the novel as part of a tradition of personal and political pastoral romance with a strong kinship to both travel literature generally, and the imaginary Utopian voyage in particular. But because Wilding appears uninterested in the way the adoption of a modern pastoral mode, as an alternative to bourgeois realism, sets up a tension within the realistic depiction of place in Kangaroo, I seek to emphasize as much as is proper the pastoral basis of Lawrence's art. Recognizing that Kangaroo is a fiction which adopts a mixed mode, utilizing vernacular picaresque, the dream vision, collage, and the techniques of realistic travel literature as well as the imaginary journey (along with even a touch of Utopian/ dystopian satire), the thesis attempts to highlight the way in which the hopes of pastoral romance engage with the challenge posed by documentary realism and are held in balance sufficiently well to enable Lawrence to give a strong sense of the Australian 'spirit of place', the character of Australian democracy and the very personal political decisions which dictate how life is lived.
Throughout an attempt has been made to highlight the point that it is important to see these fictional issues, and the essentially pastoral patterning and positioning which underpins them, in the context of the non-fictional and critical work Lawrence was undertaking at the same time they were being expressed in his fiction. The wideranging nature of the exploration of Kangaroo which results is the product of an attempt to avoid the usuals hazards of a type of genre criticism which merely offers taxonomy of pastoral that Lawrence's Kangaroo happens to satisfy
Part One of the thesis thus contains three introductory chapters. The first of these attempts to trace the development of the importance of place within an English tradition of political pastoral writing and to identify mutations of the genre termed pastorals of solitude and self; the second seeks to identify those few critics who identify Lawrence's fiction as part of a living tradition of pastoral writing and who made reference to Lawrence's handling of place and pastoral in his major novels. The third, and final, of these introductory chapters, undertakes a discursive survey of Lawrence's handling of pastoral places in his yvQ-Kangaroo fiction
Part Two examines, within a series of largely discrete chapters, Lawrence's use of the loose tropes of traditional and more modern pastoral in Kangaroo, and concludes by arguing that Lawrence's pastoral art is best described as form of 'utopian pastoralizing'. In this section, only the '"Saturday Night in Arcady'" chapter is almost exclusively taxonomic in approach.
Part three of the thesis attempts to place Kangaroo in its Lawrentian, generic and political context by examining the way in which Lawrence's manipulation of both his notions of place and his emphasis on the politically revolutionary aspects of individualism impinges on the adventurous literary form of Kangaroo
thesis concludes by arguing that Kangaroo is a generic gallimaufry with a primarily pastoral focus.
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