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D.H. Lawrence’s Uncensored War Poems
Over the weekend the Guardian reported on a sequence of war poems by D.H. Lawrence that were hacked away at by the censor’s pen and rendered “virtually meaningless.” Now, those poems are being published and restored to their Lawrence-intended versions. More:
D.H. Lawrence was an infamous victim of the censor as his sexually explicit novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned in Britain until 1960. Now a new edition of Lawrence’s poems, many rendered unreadable by the censor’s pen, will reveal him as a brilliant war poet whose work attacking British imperialism during the first world war was barred from publication.
His poems took aim at politicians, the brutality of the first world war and English repression – but censorship and sloppy editing rendered them virtually meaningless, to the extent that the full extent of his poetic talent has been overlooked.
Deleted passages have now been restored and hundreds of punctuation errors removed for a major two-volume edition to be published on 28 March by Cambridge University Press – the final part of its mammoth 40-volume edition of Lawrence’s Letters and Works.
The new volume’s editor, Christopher Pollnitz, told the Observer that it “radically shifts our understanding of Lawrence’s significance as a poet”. What was removed from the poems – by state censors or publishers fearing government intervention – was the “ultimate censorship”, he said, because extensive and significant cuts made the texts virtually unreadable.
Exciting news for sure. The article goes on to give details about the poems themselves, including doomed passion, women’s changing roles on the home front, and other material deemed censorable.