Living at the Edge: A Biography of D. H. Lawrence and Frieda Von Richthofen

Overview

Dashingly told and meticulously researched, this double biography of D. H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda von Richthofen is the first to draw fully on Frieda’s unpublished letters and on interviews with people who knew her well. It explores their collision with an industrial world they hated and chronicles the stormy relationship between husband and wife. The strong sexual vitality that inspired Lawrence’s art brought both joy and anguish to his marriage. Here, the Lawrences emerge as proud but not conceited in ...

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Overview

Dashingly told and meticulously researched, this double biography of D. H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda von Richthofen is the first to draw fully on Frieda’s unpublished letters and on interviews with people who knew her well. It explores their collision with an industrial world they hated and chronicles the stormy relationship between husband and wife. The strong sexual vitality that inspired Lawrence’s art brought both joy and anguish to his marriage. Here, the Lawrences emerge as proud but not conceited in their unconventional lives, staunch in the face of fierce opposition from a conformist society.
    Living at the Edge follows the separate lives of Lawrence and Frieda up to their first meeting in 1912. Tracing their new life together, it depicts their grateful escape from the English Midlands; their discovery of exotic places where they made temporary homes—Italy, Cornwall, Australia, New Mexico, and Mexico; Lawrence’s courageous battle against illness; and, after his death in 1930, Frieda’s success in recreating the simple life on ranches near Taos, New Mexico, where she died in 1956.
    At the center of their story is Lawrence’s literary career. Biographers Squires and Talbot see Lawrence’s major novels—The Rainbow, Women in Love, Lady Chatterley’s Lover—as a fresh way to understand his turbulent and conflicted life. They reveal the extreme care with which he rewrote his personal experience to satisfy his deepest needs, and they introduce the many influential people who entered the Lawrences’ lives and work. The rich materials from Frieda’s letters reveal a different Lawrence—more difficult as a man but more interesting as an artist; they also reveal a different Frieda—more vibrant as a woman, more substantial as a companion. This superb biography gives both Lawrence and Frieda striking new dimensions.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Squires, a Lawrence scholar and professor of English at Virginia Tech, and wife Talbot, coeditor with him of a projected edition of Frieda's letters, have written a joint biography of two distinctive individuals as well as a portrait of a marriage. They examine in great detail the lives of Lawrence and Frieda, showing how their different personalities were nevertheless blended into a partnership that endured despite arguments, occasional infidelities, and periods of separation. Though Lawrence's major novels and short stories are examined closely, the criticism focuses more on how the fiction reflects the couple's lives and experiences rather than on the works' literary devices or themes. The section on Lady Chatterley's Lover is especially illuminating. The many illustrations add to this general-interest book. While it does not supplant previous biographies of the couple, such as Brenda Maddox's D.H. Lawrence: The Story of a Marriage, this book's sympathy and understanding of the Lawrences' lives and the use of many unpublished letters as well as personal interviews contributes to its usefulness and readability. Recommended for large public libraries. Morris A. Hounion, New York City Technical Coll. Lib., Brooklyn Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Squires, a Lawrence scholar and professor of English at Virginia Tech, and wife Talbot, coeditor with him of a projected edition of Frieda's letters, have written a joint biography of two distinctive individuals as well as a portrait of a marriage. They examine in great detail the lives of Lawrence and Frieda, showing how their different personalities were nevertheless blended into a partnership that endured despite arguments, occasional infidelities, and periods of separation. Though Lawrence's major novels and short stories are examined closely, the criticism focuses more on how the fiction reflects the couple's lives and experiences rather than on the works' literary devices or themes. The section on Lady Chatterley's Lover is especially illuminating. The many illustrations add to this general-interest book. While it does not supplant previous biographies of the couple, such as Brenda Maddox's D.H. Lawrence: The Story of a Marriage, this book's sympathy and understanding of the Lawrences' lives and the use of many unpublished letters as well as personal interviews contributes to its usefulness and readability. Recommended for large public libraries. Morris A. Hounion, New York City Technical Coll. Lib., Brooklyn Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Squires (English, Virginia Tech) and Talbot (Spanish, Roanoke College) collected Frieda Laurence's letters for years before realizing that they could add considerable insight to a biography of her famous writer husband. The result, though focusing on him, turned out to be a biography of them as a couple, pulling her out from his shadow. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299177508
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Squires is professor of English at Virginia Tech. A past president of the D. H. Lawrence Society of America and recipient of the Harry T. Moore Distinguished Scholar Award for Lifetime Achievement in D. H. Lawrence Studies, he is the author and editor of numerous other books about D. H. Lawrence, including the Penguin edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Lynn K. Talbot is professor of Spanish at Roanoke College. They are husband and wife, and together they are compiling and editing the complete letters of Frieda Lawrence.

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