Lawrence, Florence and Theft: Petites misères of Biographical Enquiry

  • David Ellis


I had been lecturing on the Friday at the University in Florence, trying to say something sensible about ‘the place of D. H. Lawrence in the history of the English novel’. After a month in Italy I had learned to go slowly and look continuously at the students to make sure they were following. This deprives you of variety of pace, like those footballs whose two speeds derisive fans in my home town used to describe as slow and stop; and articulating every word somehow gives an additional ring of banality to the material. Yet on this occasion the students had seemed bright and attentive enough. That is how they had seemed when I had lectured in Naples two weeks before but a colleague who interrogated them afterwards told me that they had in fact followed very little. I sympathize with their predicament. I have enough Italian to follow someone who talks at me for ten minutes, but during the next ten I am beginning to rely on key words to pick up the gist. After that, I am reduced to observing their body language, sustaining my own role with affirmative nods, and living in fear of some such sudden enquiry as, ‘So you do agree, then, that chopping off the hands of these people would be the best solution to the problem?’


Erary Proponent Decisive Moment Small Girl Medical Inspection Pubescent Girl 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Ellis

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