Go to the home page for Odour of Chrysanthemums, a text in process

Critical materials: 'Odour of Chrysanthemums'

From Keith Cushman, D. H. Lawrence at Work: The Emergence of the Prussian Officer Stories (University Press of Virginia, 1978), 47-76. We are very grateful to Professor Cushman for permission to republish this piece.


Section Two: The Genesis of a Story

The story exists in two very different published versions and in two distinct unpublished proof versions: the early text the English Review set in type but never printed, and the version found in the Hopkin proofs of 'The Prussian Officer' and Other Stories. In addition, Lawrence treated the same situation in three other works that fall between the years 1907 and 1915, the novels The White Peacock and The Rainbow and the play The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd. I will be discussing the following texts:

  1. 'The Father': Part 1, Chapter iv, of The White Peacock. Cyril and his mother rush to the bedside of the dying Mr. Beardsall but arrive too late. Completed by November 1908.
  2. 'Odour of Chrysanthemums'. English Review proofs of the story Lawrence had completed, by 9 December 1909, in the collection of the University of Nottingham [available on this site]. The proofs, which date from March 1910, are heavily revised, but I will be focusing on the text found beneath the revisions. Referred to as the English Review proofs and the 1910 proofs. The unrevised version of the proofs is now available in the 1969 number of Renaissance and Modern Studies [also on this website, James. T. Boulton's original introduction is referred to hereafter as Boulton].
  3. 'Odour of Chrysanthemums'. Magazine text published in the English Review, June 1911. Lawrence revised the March 1910 proofs between 30 March and 2 April 1911. Referred to as the magazine text and the English Review text (ER, also on this site).
  4. The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd, especially Act III. The play is a reworking of the same materials, and its conclusion is directly modeled on the story. Originally written some time before 13 December 1910. Revised in August and early September 1913.
  5. 'Odour of Chrysanthemums'. Text found in the proof set Lawrence sent W. E. Hopkin, now in the collection of the Nottinghamshire County Library. Lawrence revised the magazine version in July 1914. Referred to as the Hopkin proofs.
  6. 'Odour of Chrysanthemums'. Text included in 'The Prussian Officer' and Other Stories, published in December 1914. Lawrence revised the Hopkin proof version in the autumn of the same year. [Available on this site]
  7. The Rainbow. Lydia and Anna confront the drowned body of Tom Brangwen in the 'Marsh and the Flood' chapter. The final version of this scene was probably written after 4 December 1914, in Lawrence's fourth time through the novel.

Each successive text, from the White Peacock chapter through the different versions of 'Odour of Chrysanthemums' to the passage in The Rainbow, reveals a different approach on Lawrence's part to the materials he was treating. Very often the progress from version to version reveals strikingly different conceptions of the confrontation with the dead father, the scene that is the crux of all the texts listed above.

© Keith Cushman
February 2010

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