Memory and Writing: From Wordsworth to Lawrence - Philip DavisLiverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1983, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Gently faded at the spine.
Number 21 in the series.
From the cover: “In this wide-ranging work, the author challenges T. S. Eliot’s belief that ‘the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates’. Dr. Davis examines the relation of imagination and the creation of art to the experience of life, both individual and social, which provides the source and subject of so much nineteenth-century literature. Whilst acknowledging that no writing can simply reproduce pure memory, unaffected by the fact of its being recorded in verse or prose, the author argues that it is memory which nonetheless provides the underlying connection between writing and living. The mind which creates and the man who suffers are mutually supported, tested, and related through the power of memory.
The book is divided into three main parts. The first part deals with the work of Wordsworth, as the prime example of a poet, and studies the place of memory within his poetry and his idea of art. The second part concentrates on the rise of prose after the age of Wordsworth, and considers the relation between the writing of prose autobiography and the more indirectly autobiographical imagination involved in the writing of fiction. The authors discussed in this part include Hazlitt, Hood and Dickens, and Ruskin, Mrs Oliphant and George Eliot. The third part of the book, bringing together many of the issues discussed in the earlier parts, is a study of the profound disagreement between D. H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy. This disagreement had its source in debates which had dominated the nineteenth century. The issues include the future of Romanticism, the sense that writing can make of an individual’s experience with life, and the role of memory in relation to man’s lonely need for a meaning to his life in an age of secularization.
In its detailed and closely argued examination of the effects of life experience within the works of a creative writer, this study is in implicit opposition to those current critical trends which deny the significance of the writer as a human being. It is thus an important and highly original contribution to literary criticism, which will be valued and argued over by all who are engaged in serious thinking in this field.”