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December 20, 1985 - Image 39

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

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS Friday, December 20, 1985

•• • • • • • ••



.LeVon's

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39

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garded as an outcast. His books,
- which treated sexual encounters
boldly, were badly misun-
derstood. Thought to be lacking
morally, they were suppressed
and banned, while he was re-
viled and persecuted. Already
an exile in his own country, he
became a wanderer over the
earth.
His ideas he promoted with
/•• messianic fervor. He knew well
his Old Testament, and a sub-
stantial quantity of his prose
has a biblical cast to it. His
1931 essay Apocalypse confirms
his interest in and knowledge of
the Hebrew prophets and the
Jewish apocalyptic writers. In
sum, he possessed a number of
characteristics we associate with
the roles of symbolic universal
W Jews in the 20th century.
Though Lawrence was too
much his own person to recog-
nize how close he was to assum-
ing the role of the universal
Jew, he set out to create one in
the characterization of Ben
Cooley in his novel Kangaroo.
Cooley, or "Kangaroo," an
enigmatic Australian-Jewish
political leader, preaches a mes-
sage of total love and patriarc-
hal authoritarianism. He wants
to be the Jewish father to an
entire nation.
Though Somers, Lawrence's
protagonist, and surrogate, re-
jects Kangaroo's philosophy in
order to maintain his own inde-
pendence, he is attracted to • him
and shocked when he is killed.
Lawrence's treatment is sym-
pathetic. He is said to have
modeled Kangaroo after the
well-known Jewish writer and
early promoter of Freudianism,
Dr. David Eder. Eder, too, had
been a friend of Lawrence's and
a Utopian. He once offered
Lawrence a tract of land in
South America as a site for
"Rananim."
Lawrence was on an extended
visit to Australia in 1922 when
he wrote Kangaroo, and it is
likely that the portiait includes
some characteristics of Sir John
Monash, the brilliant Jewish at-
torney and engineer who had
commanded the Australian
forces in the Great War and who
subsequently was highly visible
in Australian national politics.
Few British writers in the
early part of the century were
comfortabe around • Jews or
counted Jews among their close
friends or used them as impor-
tant characters in their writing.
Lawrence seemed to be very
much at home with them both
in his life and his fiction.
On this evidence, we would
have to conclude that he was
hardly an anti-Semite, appear-
ances to the contrary not-
withstanding. The wonder is
that with as much insight as he
had into himself, he never per-
ceived his apparent affinity with
the Jews, a connection which
might have, in the bitter strug-
gles of his hard life, given him
some solace.

Copyright 1985 Joseph Cohen.















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