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Death In Vence

August 12, 1990

May I as a participant in one of the literary conferences discussed by Brenda Maddox in Endpapers ("The Word and The Man") add a few caveats?

Maddox, having "braved" the Monaco conference on James Joyce and the Montpellier conference on D. H. Lawrence, treats them as "absurdities both," examples of "celebratory rituals." That is unfair to the scholars who participated. The talks I heard in Montpellier (and certainly the one I delivered) were entirely professional in topic and tone, not adulatory but analytic or biographic.

Ironically, Maddox's own contributions were the exceptions: largely extemporaneous accounts of her present interest in Lawrence and her views of biography. . . .

(Further), to call the Montpellier registrants "Lawrence look-alikes" with "beards and sandals and loose shirts" does not square with what I observed, and neglects the women, about one-third of the total registrants.

And though feminism was, inevitably, an issue, I doubt that it "dominated" the Lawrence conference. And what if it did? Would that be remarkable? The author of "Nora, the Real Life of Molly Bloom" should be the last person to think so. . . .


Professor of English

and Comparative Literature

California State University


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