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December 20, 1985 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-12-20

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38 - Friday, December 20, 1985 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

LAST YEAR
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BOOKS

D.H. Lawrence:
Was He Or Wasn't He

BY JOSEPH COHEN
Special to The Jewish News

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on the title-pages of Kotelians-
Over the years, most Jews, I
ky's books.
suppose, have assumed that D.
Though Koteliansky is not
H. Lawrence, like the majority
remembered, Mark Gertler cer-
of 20th Century British writers,
tainly is. Handsome, charisma-
was anti-Semitic. It has been
tic, debonair and talented, Ger-
easy to draw this inference from
tler came out of London's East
Lawrence's characterization of
End about 1912 to bedazzle a
Loerke, the brutalizing and
host of influential and titled
primitive German-Jewish
people in Kensington and
sculptor in Women in Love.
Mayfair with both his art and
Moreover, opposition to the
his charm. Today, Gertler's pic-
Jews could have seemed consis-
tent with Lawrence's working-
class Midlands background, his
family's Congregational fun-
damentalism, and his outrage
new book and the
and despair over the growing
power of the industrialized
author's
centennial
state, understructured by com-
revives the question
mercial and financial interests,
which in his view routinely
about anti-Semitic
exploited common humanity.
The question of Lawrence's attitudes.
assumed anti-Semitism has sur-
faced again in Anthony Burgess'
informal biographical tribute
Flame Into Being: The Life and
tures are a staple of early 20th
Work , of D. H. Lawrence (Arbor
Century Anglo-Jewish art.
House), issued in conjunction
When two years ago, the Ben
with the centennial this year of
Uri Art Gallery decided to sell
Lawrence's birth. Lawrence's
Gertler's most famous painting,
attitude toward Jews is never
"The Merry-Go-Round," to shore
Burgess' concern, but through
up its sagging finances, howls of
his repeated emphasis upon his
protest
were heard throughout
subject's uniqueness, he has
the London Jewish community
made it my concern. A hundred
for fear the painting would
years after Lawrence's birth, we
leave the British Isles.
ought to know where this
In 1916, Gertler sent a post-
famous writer stood vis' a vis'
card reproduction of "The
the Jews.
Merry-Go-Round" to Lawrence,
Despite Lawrence's mercurial
who was also a painter. Lawr-
temperament, his mood swings,
ence replied "it is the best mod-
his willingness to bully, cudgel
em picture I have seen," adding,
and blast both his friends and
"It would take a Jew to paint
his enemies, despite his using
this picture. It would need your
practically everyone he knew
national history to get you here,
well as models, negatively draw,
without disintegrating you first.
for the characters of his stories,
You are of an older race than I,
two of his longest, sustained
and in these ultimate processes,
friendships were with immig-
rant East European Jews. While you are beyond me, older than I
am. But I think I am suffi-
other friends grew disenchanted
ciently the same, to be able to
with Lawrence and abandoned
understand."
him if he hadn't already cast
Perhaps he did understand,
them off, Samuel Solomonovich
without being conscious of the
Koteliansky, a writer and trans-
lator, and Mark Gertler, the significance of identifying with
East End artist, remained de- the Jewishness in Gertler's
voted to him to the end. Gertler, work.
Probably through Gertler,
we should remember,, was the
though
it could have been
model for Loerke.
Koteliansky, Lawrence came
Koteliansky is little remem- briefly into contact with another
bered today, hardly more than a Jew, the Mile-End Road printer
familiar footnote in Lawrence's
I. Narodiczky. Opposed to the
life. When they met in 1914,
Great War, Lawrence and some
"Kot" was working in the Hol-
of his friends, including John
born office of the Russian Law
Middleton Murry and Katharine
Bureau, having come to London
Mansfield, proposed to issue a
from Kiev a few years before,
small, fortnightly pacifist paper.
some accounts say, as a radical
Narodiczky was chosen to do the
fugitive. A swarthy, secular Jew
printing. Though he was a
with a passsion for "groaning
friend of Chaim Weizmann,
Hebrew music," he struck Lawr-
Vladimir Jabotinsky, Chaim
ence as "a bit Jehovah-ish." It
Bialik and Sholem Asch, and a
was from him that Lawrence got
well-known personality in
the Hebrew word "Rananim" for
Whitechapel, no one outside of
the Utopia he once proposed to
London's East End knew he
establish in Florida.
existed. Lawrence preferred it
Koteliansky never succeeded
that way. Narodiczky, without
as a writer or translator. Sev-
bothering to read what he was
eral times, Lawrence assisted
setting into type, published
him by editing his stories and
three issues of the seditionist
polishing his translations
paper for Lawrence before the
amounted to collaboration — an
police intervened.
unusual act of generosity be-
cause, despite his great ego-
By the time Lawrence was
needs, Lawrence never de- writing his pieces advocating
manded that his name appear sedition, he was already re-

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