When E.M.Forster described Lawrence as the greatest imaginative novelist of his generation, his comment was a challenge to a world where Lawrence had notoriety but there was no agreement as to his literary standing. Now, nearly sixty years after Lawrence's death, the nature of his achievement is still being debated. Although Lawrence thought of himself as an English writer, his wide-ranging vision has aroused passionate interest in many countries beyond his own. It is in these two senses as a writer in the twentieth century, and as one with international standing - that this book presents Lawrence "in the modern world". He is seen from the viewpoint of the textual editor, the psychologist and the social historian. He is placed in the wide contexts of the puritan imagination, British society drama and the regional novel - there are studies of such stylistic issues as his characteristic narrative voices - and philosophical matters are touched on in an exploration of his concept of dualism. The essays, although the work of Lawrence enthusiasts, are not uniformly reverential in tone.
There is a keen appreciation of those areas of Lawrence's work which have always made disturbing reading. All the authors are alive to the fundamentally exploratory nature of Lawrence's imagination, and his consequent failures as well as triumphs in both conception and achievement. Formerly editor of the "Newsletter" of the Lawrence Society, Peter Preston has published essays and reviews on Lawrence, Bennett and Dickens as well as on the history and practice of adult education. Peter Hoare is University Librarian at the University of Nottingham where his responsibilities include the major institutional collection of Lawrence manuscripts and books in Britain.