Between Scylla and Charybdis : ‘Kangaroo’ and the Form of the Political Novel


The form of Kangaroo has found few admirers. John Middleton Murry described it as 'a chaotic book. It has many passages of great descriptive beauty, but internally it is a chaos'; Julian Moynahan has written that 'from a formal point of view the book is a heap of bits and fragments blown about on air currents of emotion'. F. R. Leavis has made a similar objection, while registering the book's power. Grouping it with Aaron's Rod he remarked that these two novels 'though very much open to criticism as novels and works of art, are yet most impressively the work of a novelist of genius; they are full of life and interest. Nevertheless, I put them apart from the works that show Lawrence's full creative power and on which his position as one of the greatest novelists is firmly based.' Leavis's comment implicitly assumes a separation between the novel's 'life and interest' and its quality when assessed by the criteria applied to 'novels and works of art'.

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Published 1 October 1970 in Volume 4 No. 4. Subjects: Critical reception, Literary portrayal, Literary techniques, structures & modes, Political fiction, D. H. Lawrence.

Cite as: Wilding, Michael. ‘Between Scylla and Charybdis : ‘Kangaroo’ and the Form of the Political Novel.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 4, no. 4, 1970, doi: 10.20314/als.842114c0e4.