The first complete publication of the first and second versions of Lawrence's famous and/or infamous Studies in Classic American Literature. The first proves saner, shrewder and in many ways better, and the reasons relating to the revampking remain a uzzle, with the explanations from editor Armin Arnold only whetting the appetite for more. Arnold indeed has an investigatory book about Lawrence and the American adventure, published in England but unfortunately not yet available here. Lawrence it seems wrote the original essays before his trip to the States; after arrival he rewrote them and not only the style but even the emphases changed: what was once viewed with an almost ustere (for him, anyway) appreciation turned apocalyptically mocking. Those discussed are Franklin, Crevecoeur, Cooper, Poe, Hawthorne, Dana, Melville and Whitman. An enlightening essay, The Two Principles, not part of Studies, is also included. Leavis has controversially called Lawrence "the finest literary critic of our time". Let us say he is the most original; his understanding of America's transcendental element coupled with his stance as prophet of the solar-plexus is as remarkable as it is rare. Doubly remarkable now: against Studies' brilliance we can set the new (or older) collection's balance and beauty. Either way, must reading.
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