HAT did Kangaroo's
"missing chapter" contain? That is the question posed,
ostensibly, for this 90th-anniversary "competition".
What did the original "chapter X" say? What might it have
said? What could it have said?
Perhaps the more interesting question is why it was excised. What
was "wrong" with it?
But before we can answer these questions, there are two more that
we should try to answer:
Who wrote the "missing" chapter X? And who cut it out?
These are a very significant questions, germane not only to Kangaroo,
but to all of Lawrence's "creative" writing. Attempting
to answer them provides us with occasion, the opportunity, to raise
this very important aspect of Lawrence's "literary" works.
For there are two "authorial" voices in Lawrence's works
- both his fiction and his poetry (but not, I don't think, in his
non-literary writing - his essays, letters, translations, and so
In Kangaroo, as well as elsewhere - and particularly in Fantasia
of the Unconscious, the work he wrote immediately before Kangaroo
- he mentions this dual aspect to his literary "persona".
(I delivered a talk on this to the 7th international DH Lawrence
Conference in Taos in 1998.)
Yet this aspect of his writing is almost universally ignored or
dismissed by critics and Lawrence scholars.
They prefer to sweep it under the literary and academic carpet,
not to be thought about, or kept confined to its room, like the
madwoman in Jane Eyre.
Yet Lawrence himself was far from shy about this. Not only did he
write a whole book about it (Fantasia), but dozens of essays.
(His introduction to his collected poems is particularly informative
on this - see the "polyanalytics" quote below.)
Personally, the image of this aspect of his life that I like to
keep in my mind is the one captured by Dorothy Brett in her chronicle
of her life with Lawrence.
They - the threesome, Lawrence, Frieda and Brett - were living in
a remote log cabin outside Taos in 1924.
Each morning, so Brett records, Lawrence would go off, after breakfast,
alone into the woods, carrying his notebook (usually a school exercise-book)
and pencil or fountain-pen.
He would return before lunch, his notebook filled with new writing.
One day she asked Lawrence about this strange behaviour. Did he,
she asked him, have any clear vision of what he was going to say
when he went out to write?
"No," he replied. "I never know when I sit down just
what I am going to write. I make no plan, it just comes, and I don't
know where it comes from.
"Of course, I have a general sort of outline of what I want
to write about, but when I go out in the mornings I have no idea
what I will write. It just comes, and I don't really know where
it comes from."
Just so you aren't tempted to think that this was unrepresentative
of Lawrence and his "creative processes", let me quote
directly from Fantasia, in the delightfully-named chapter
"Trees and Babies and Papas and Mammas":
I come out solemnly with a pencil and exercise book, and take
my seat at the foot of a large fir-tree, and wait for thoughts to
sitting under a friendly tree
The second quote above was written in 1921, just before he came
to Australia, and the first in 1924, two years later. We can take
it, therefore, that it was very likely that this was how he behaved
in Australia, too.
(Wherever the tree was under which he wrote some if not all of Kangaroo,
it may still be there, unmarked and uncommemorated, somewhere in
the vicinity of Craig Street, Thirroul.)
Be that as it may, what we can be quite sure of is that, wherever
his "inspiration" came from, at some time in the week
beginning Sunday June 18, it had dried up.
His letters written at the time are ample proof of that. On Monday
June 19 he wrote to Mabel Dodge saying he was "stuck in my
novel". Frieda also wrote to Mabel Dodge actually citing the
page in Lawrence's manuscript where he had "come to a halt
and kicks" - p. 305.
And on the Wednesday of that week he was still "stuck",
for he told his American publisher Seltzer in a letter he wrote
that day that he was "slightly stuck". (Though by then
he did think he saw "a way forward" - after probably having
received the Saturday appointment reply from Rosenthal - see below.)
In the manuscript itself Lawrence says (at the beginning of chapter
VIII "Volcanic Evidence") that he had "come to the
end of his tether". He adds that:
He tried to write,
that being his job. But usually, nowadays, when he tapped his unconscious...
...it was silent. Nothing was coming out of it.
In the absence of any message from his unconscious, he stares, forlornly,
at the ocean below "Wyewurk"...
...he looked at the ocean uneasily moving, and wondered when
next it would thrust an angry shoulder out of the watery bed-covering,
to give things a little jog. Or when his own devil would get a leg
up into affairs.
He decided, apparently, to help his devil or daemon "get a
leg up" by writing to Rosenthal seeking a meeting with him
(and sending a red wooden heart as a pledge of his commitment to
Rosenthal - a very busy man - apparently replied that he could spare
him some time on Saturday evening, June 24.
Meanwhile his primary - conscious - authorial voice would have to
bide its time in patience, before receiving on Saturday some fresh
material for his subconscious "daemon" to work on, or
(It seems that it worked at Lawrence's behest, but, apparently,
not under his conscious direction.)
Yet his primary, conscious pen could not be still. It wanted to
soldier on, regardless.
He referred (in the Introduction to his collected poems) to this
conscious "entity", or part of his creative processes,
as his "pollyanalytics":
The novels and poems come unwatched out of one's pen. And then
the absolute need which one has for some sort of satisfactory mental
attitude towards oneself and things in general makes one try to
abstract some definite conclusions from one's experiences as a writer
and as a man. The novels and poems are pure passionate experience.
These "pollyanalytics" are inferences made afterwards,
from the experience.
In the absence of "pure passionate experience" - of being
able to successfully "tap his unconscious" - he does his
inadequate best to fill in time - and pages - before the advent
of his anticipated new inspirational material on Saturday.
The result was the four "quick" but discursive chapters
"Volcanic Evidence", "Harriett and Somers",
the missing chapter (originally chapter X), and the actual (regurgitative)
chapter X, "Diggers".
So my conclusion is that the missing chapter was written by the
"pollyanalytic" non-daemon - conscious - Lawrence, and
cut out by him as well.
But what did it say, originally?
It was, I now believe,
like the chapters on either side of it, discursive and insubstantive.
What he had wanted, almost desperately, to say was that Lovatt went
up to Sydney again and met Rosenthal and had a good chat with him.
But his daemon would
not let him - it had no "actual" material to work on.
It wanted, needed, substance, not pollyanalytics.
(One reason - the main reason - why critics and scholars have been
reluctant to acknowledge the role of the daemon in Lawrence's "creative"
works is that, according to Lawrence [as expounded, for example,
in Fantasia], it resided, not in his mind or head, but in
his solar-plexus - somewhere in the lower half of his body. An unconscious
that lives below the waist is a bit hard to swallow for even the
most open-minded and supportive of literary critics.)
Somers, fictionally, attempted to go up and see Cooley again at
the start of the "Harriett and Lovatt" chapter:
Somers went chastened back to Kangaroo, realising that if one
was given a real thing in this life one should not carp at it. He
wanted to feel absolutely at one with the other man..."You
allow," said Kangaroo, who was in his harder, logical mood,
"that men can never come together to act in unison save on
the lift of some common, powerful emotion which they accept as their
but he crossed this out, replacing it with a report of a "real"
argument with Frieda (chapter IX "Harriett and Lovatt at Sea
So to at least start off the next chapter - the missing chapter
- he had to find something else to push his stalled narrative forward.
My guess is that he tried to use material extracted from the 14
letters he got midweek on Wednesday morning.
He summarises their content and provenance in "Volcanic Evidence"
(and excuse the length of the extract, but it is important to my
reconstruction of the missing chapter)...
There came dreary and fatuous letters from friends in England,
refined young men of the upper middle-class writing with a guarded
kind of friendliness, gentle and sweet, of course, but as dozy as
ripe pears in their laisser aller heaviness. That was what it amounted
to: they were over-ripe, they had been in the sun of prosperity
too long, and all their tissues were soft and sweetish. How could
they react with any sharpness to any appeal on earth? They wanted
just to hang against the warmest wall they could find, as long as
ever they could, till some last wind of death or disturbance shook
them down into earth, mushy and overripe. A sardonic letter from
a Jewish friend in London, amusing but a bit dreadful. Letters from
women in London, friendly but irritable. "I have decided I
am a comfort-loving conventional person, with just a dash of the
other thing to keep me fidgety"--then accounts of buying old
furniture, and gossip about everybody: "Verden Grenfel in a
restaurant with TWO bottles of champagne, so he must be affluent
just now." A girl taking her honeymoon trip to Naples by one
of the Orient boats, third class: "There are 800 people on
board, but room for another 400, so that on account of the missing
400 we have a six-berth cabin to ourselves. It is a bit noisy and
not luxurious, but clean and comfortable, and you can imagine what
it is to me, to be on the glorious sea, and to go ashore at wonderful
Gibraltar, and to see the blue hills of Spain in the distance. Frederick
is struggling with a mass of Italian irregular verbs at the moment."
And in spite of all Somers' love of the Mediterranean, the thought
of sitting on a third class deck with eight hundred emigrants, including
babies, made him almost sick. "The glorious sea--wonderful
Gibraltar." It takes quite a good eyesight even to SEE the
sea from the deck of a liner, let alone out of the piled mass of
humanity on the third-class deck. A letter from Germany, about a
wedding and a pending journey into Austria and friends, written
with a touch of philosophy that comes to a man when he's fallen
down and bumped himself, and strokes the bruise. A cheque for fifteen
pounds seventeen shillings and fourpence, from a publisher: "Kindly
acknowledge." A letter from a farming friend who had changed
places: "A Major Ashworth has got the farm, and has spent about
600 pounds putting it in order. He has started as a poultry-farm,
but has had bad luck in losing 400 chicks straight away, with the
cold weather. I hope our spell of bad luck doesn't still hang over
the place. I wish you would come back to England for the summer.
Viv talks of getting a caravan, and then we might get two. Cold
and wet weather for weeks. All work and no play, not good enough."
A letter from Paris, artist friends: "I have sold one of the
three pictures that are in the last Salon." A letter from Somers'
sister: "Louis has been looking round everywhere to buy a little
farm, but there doesn't seem to be a bit of land to be got anywhere.
What do you think of our coming to Australia? I wish you would look
for something for us, for we are terribly fed up with this place,
nothing doing at all." A letter from Sicily: "I have had
my father and stepmother over from New York. I had got them rooms
here, but when I said so, the face of Anna, my stepmother, was a
sight. She took me aside and told me that father was spoiling the
trip entirely by his economies, and that she had set her heart on
the Villa Igeia. Then Dad took me aside and said that he didn't
wish to be reckless, but he didn't want to thwart Anna's wishes
entirely, and was there nothing in the way of compromise? It ended
by their staying two days here, and Anna said she thought it was
very nice FOR ME. Then they went to the Palmes, which is entirely
up to Anna's ideas of luxury, and she is delighted.
This was, at least, new material - a substitute, as it were, for
something substantive from Scott or Rosenthal, even though it derived
Maybe he offered it to his daemon, who tried to work something up
from one of these letters, or the memories they conjured up, but
(Lawrence certainly would have been grateful for the cheque from
- almost certainly - his UK publisher, Martin Secker.)
However, the mentioned letter from "a farming friend"
could have touched off something more substantive. This was Stanley
Hocking, the young Cornishman Lawrence befriended in Cornwall during
the war, and with whom he had a slightly suspicious relationship
(does a young working-class farming lad in far-off Cornwall write
a casual letter to you in Australia, just to say a distant hello?).
This, by the way, was the "farming friend" of Lawrence
whom, in chapter III "Larbord Watch Ahoy!" Harriett recalls:
"Oh! Oh! I know that," cried Harriet remembering a
farmer friend of Somers', who had initiated her into the thrilling
harmony, down in Cornwall.
That summer of 1916
back in Cornwall Lawrence had spent a lot of time with his young
Cornish friend (whom in Kangaroo he calls "John Thomas"
- a name that for Lawrence had definite sexual undertone: Lady
Chatterley was originally entitled John Thomas and Lady Jane).
Two chapters later, in "The Nightmare" chapter, Lawrence
remembered him fondly:
But Richard drifted away this summer, on to the land, into the
weather, into Cornwall. He worked out o doors all the time--he ceased
to care inwardly--he began to drift away from himself. He was very
thick with John Thomas, and nearly always at the farm. Harriet was
a great deal alone. And he seemed to be drifting away, drifting
back to the common people, becoming a working man, of the lower
classes. It had its charm for Harriet, this aspect of him--careless,
rather reckless, in old clothes and an old battered hat. He kept
his sharp wits, but his SPIRIT became careless, lost its concentration.
said John Thomas, as Somers appeared in the cornfield, "you
look more like one of us every day." And he looked with a bright
Cornish eye at Somers...
Perhaps this is what
he wrote about in the missing chapter X. If he did - and it is merely
an idle speculation - then it would not have pleased Frieda, had
she read it (which it is very likely she would have, as she knew
the manuscript page numbers).
Perhaps what resulted is reflected at the start of the "real"
chapter X "Diggers", which followed:
They had another ferocious battle, Somers and Harriet; they stood
opposite to one another in such fury one against the other that
they nearly annihilated one another. He couldn't stay near her,
so started walking off into the country.
Maybe the missing chapter
recalled something of that 1916 relationship (as later expressed
in "The Nightmare").
Maybe he cut it out to appease Frieda.
But now we will never know.
What we do know is that, a day or so after all four of this sequence
of chapters - "Volcanic Evidence", "Harriett and
Lovatt", the missing chapter, and "Diggers" - were
written, Lawrence ventured up to Sydney on the Saturday and saw,
first, Jock Garden, then Rosenthal in his Castlereagh Street chambers...
where Lawrence got the shock of his life when Rosenthal showed
his darker, secret side - the scaly back of the reptile and the
Nevertheless, that kept his daemon happy, and occupied, for at least
the next three chapters.