DH Lawrence and Tradition indicates how Lawrence interprets, revalues, absorbs, and transforms the work of Blake, Carlyle, Ruskin, George Eliot, Hardy, Whitman, and Nietzche. Though the critics differ in their approaches to the question of Lawrence's relation to tradition and receptivity to influence, they all assume that his use of the style, forms, and ideas of his predecessors is positive. The contributers believe that Lawrence's fiction, poetry, and criticism derive their resonance, meaning, and value--and much of their inspiration--from his vital connection to significant authors of the nineteenth century.
Since tradition can be construed as the cultural equivalence of the individual consciousness, this book explores the very roots of Lawrence's art. The essays examine how Lawrence fulfills the implications and completes, the potential of his Romantic and Victorian forebears and how, by rewriting the works of others, he makes them entirely his own. Though Lawrence transcends any single literary influence, part of his receptive genius is the ability to select and learn from the traditions of the past. He had the persistance, and courage to continue the struggle with the potent dead and, from his spiritual combat, to re-create a new are. Lawrence's exploration of earlier writers and his cultivation of underlying temperamental an stylistic affinities lead him to self-discovery. His debts to traditions enhance rather than diminish his originality and establish him more seriously as a writer of the first rank.