Publication Date: 27/05/2021 ISBN: 9781408893623 Category:

Burning Man

Frances Wilson

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: 27/05/2021 ISBN: 9781408893623 Category:





‘Frances Wilson writes books that blow your hair back. She makes Lawrence live and breathe, annoy and captivate you … she conjures the past with such clarity and wit and flair that it feels utterly present’ Katherine Rundell

‘A brilliantly unconventional biography, passionately researched and written with a wild, playful energy’ Richard Holmes

D H Lawrence is no longer censored, but he is still on trial – and we are still unsure what the verdict should be, or even how to describe him.

History has remembered him, and not always flatteringly, as a nostalgic modernist, a sexually liberator, a misogynist, a critic of genius, and a sceptic who told us not to look in his novels for ‘the old stable ego’, yet pioneered the genre we now celebrate as auto-fiction. But where is the real Lawrence in all of this, and how – one hundred years after the publication of Women in Love – can we hear his voice above the noise?

Delving into the memoirs of those who both loved and hated him most, Burning Man follows Lawrence from the peninsular underworld of Cornwall in 1915 to post-war Italy to the mountains of New Mexico, and traces the author’s footsteps through the pages of his lesser known work. Wilson’s triptych of biographical tales present a complex, courageous and often comic fugitive, careering around a world in the grip of apocalypse, in search of utopia; and, in bringing the true Lawrence into sharp focus, shows how he speaks to us now more than ever.

‘No biography of Lawrence that I have read comes close to Burning Man’ Ferdinand Mount, author of Kiss Myself Goodbye

‘The most original voice in life-writing today’ Lucasta Miller, author of Keats

Publisher Review

Wilson's Dantesque excursion detracts only marginally from the brilliance of her book. Her great strength is the aliveness of her writing, which constantly interweaves glowing phrases from Lawrence into its fabric -- JOHN CAREY * SUNDAY TIMES * [Wilson] gives it to you straight ... and leaves you to decide for yourself ... This is a red-hot, propulsive book. The impression it leaves is of Lawrence not so much as a phoenix (his chosen personal emblem) rising from the flames, but of a moth coming too close to a candle and, singed and frantic, flying into and into and into the wick * THE TIMES * Not only does Frances Wilson revive her subject, she lifts the whole genre. Biography of this calibre is rare ... Our most original biographer * NEW STATESMAN * The challenge for any biographer of one Lawrence is to come to terms with his many contradictions - his rage, impotence, silliness and genius. This elegantly written, intelligent and witty account lays them all bare with admirable skill * EVENING STANDARD * I cannot remember the last time one left me feeling so exhilarated, so challenged and absorbed ... Burning Man is a work of art in its own right, as wanton and as magnificently flawed as anything Lawrence ever wrote ... The chorus of voices builds and builds. Sometimes ecstatic and sometimes shrill, it brings Lawrence alive in all his derangement: his ridiculousness as well as his glory; his perspicacity and his blindness ... Wilson writes so brilliantly, and with such conviction. If you believe, as I do, that to live life well is to fail in ways that may be unimaginably huge, this strange and confounding book is for you -- RACHEL COOKE * OBSERVER * Wilson tells the story well. It was a period of uncertainty, of bonds being shed and reforged; of the immense growth of Lawrence's reputation -- PHILIP HENSHER * SPECTATOR * Wilson's Guilty Thing, her life of Thomas De Quincey, is one of the finest recent literary biographies ... Burning Man is in the same league. ... This is a book that performs a rare and laudable task: of saving a writer, posthumously, from himself. We are all beneficiaries of Wilson's articulate and persuasive advocacy -- David Wheatley * Literary Review * Heady, entrancing, comedic... Outstanding ... Without condoning Lawrence's temper at all - quite the opposite, indeed - Wilson reveals an achingly flawed, ultimately sympathetic human being, who wrote mostly imperfect novels, but whose immense contribution to the twentieth-century literary scene is worth both acknowledging and commemorating. And whatever you have thought of Lawrence, or will think after reading this book, Frances Wilson's Burning Man is a virtuoso performance in the art of biography-writing -- Gerri Kimber * TLS * A brilliantly unconventional biography, passionately researched and written with a wild, playful energy. Above all Frances Wilson's great achievement is to liberate Lawrence from the old, heavy, moth-eaten "priest of love" mythology, instead breathing new life into his big novels as contemporary "autofiction", and lovingly stoking the furious fires in his letters, poetry and short stories. A new Lawrence emerges: a thinker, travel writer and essayist of strange, absurd, irrepressible genius -- RICHARD HOLMES '"How can biography do justice to Lawrence's complexities?" asks this book. Frances Wilson shows us exactly how. Hers is the most original voice in life-writing today -- LUCASTA MILLER, author of Keats No biography of Lawrence that I have read comes close to Burning Man in getting across both his unquenchable fire and his appalling ruthlessness. After reading almost every page, you think "what a monster!" but then at the same time "what an eye!" - for people, landscape, birds, the whole world really. It's a wonderful book -- FERDINAND MOUNT, author of Kiss Myself Goodbye In this astonishing tale, rife with jealousy, messianism and blood, she meets Lawrence on his own terms, offering readers a mythology of his deeply wild and complex spirit * GUARDIAN * Dare we hope that Lawrence might soon assume his rightful place - neither messiah nor pariah - as a writer of boundless freshness, originality and breadth? If so Frances Wilson's stimulating and utterly enthralling book will be seen to play a vital role in the long-awaited rehabilitation of the man who, in the words of poet Tony Hoagland, "burned like an acetylene torch/ from one end to the other of his life" -- GEOFF DYER [An] engrossing, entertaining and illuminating biography ... Wilson, whose previous books include a compelling life of Thomas de Quincey, eloquently makes the case for Lawrence's genius and the need for his revaluation -- Rosemary Goring * HERALD * This is in many ways a superb biography ... Her writing about him is gloriously vivid * THE WEEK, Book of the Week * Meticulously researched and energetic ... She converts this seemingly incendiary and unapologetic radical into a patron saint of passionate intensity ... It is a job well done in illuminating Lawrence's many complexities -- Nicholas Opfermann * REACTION, Books Digest * Wilson captures the ferocity and aggression of this driven author ... Burning Man presents a rounded, empathetic portrait of Lawrence -- Martin Chilton * INDEPENDENT, Books of the Month * Beautifully written * THE TIMES * A vivid picture of a complex, difficult, haunted man whose art was driven by conflict * BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE * Thrillingly unusual ... If you want a cool, dispassionate biography, this is not it ... At times she seems to be almost channelling Lawrence, especially in her landscape descriptions, which are as good as Lawrence's own * DAILY TELEGRAPH * [A] witty and rigorous reappraisal of this divisive, divided figure * STANDPOINT * Her thrillingly partisan biography sets out to rescue him from the slough of derision in which he has wallowed since the 1960s * DAILY TELEGRAPH * Wilson is splendid ... The result is a brilliant, convoluted, mannerist approach - lovely on the page, often thrilling in its daring * AUSTRALIAN BOOK REVIEW * If you love a literary biography, then you'll be admirably catered for by Frances Wilson's Burning Man, about D.H. Lawrence * BOOKLIST *

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