Odour of Chrysanthemums Background

Odour of Chrysanthemums Background

D. H. Lawrence wrote “Odour of Chrysanthemums” in 1909 and submitted to the English Review where the magazine’s renowned editor Ford Madox Hueffer (better known to most as renowned writer Ford Madox Ford) judged the story’s worth as one with the potential to become the author's greatest work. The editor then immediately set to work slicing through the manuscript with his red pen that amounted to five page pages worth of Lawrence’s prose going missing when finally published two years later.

Three years after that initial appearance, “Odour of Chrysanthemums” appeared in Lawrence’s collection of short fiction, The Prussian Officer and Other Stories. This version would be the third version of the story that Lawrence himself had deemed worth of publication. The longer version is essentially an expansion of Part III: Death in which the reflections of Mrs. Bates on the reality of her marriage in the presence of her husband’s recovered corpse is deepened and more emotionally layered. Also knew to the proceedings is the author’s far more corrosive criticism of Elizabeth for allowing that marriage to become a failure.

This information is provided by an omniscient third person point of view that, nevertheless, is primarily focused on seeing the world through the perspective of Elizabeth. The distancing of this choice has come to be viewed by many scholars and critics as integral in the evolution of Elizabeth from victim of circumstances to active agent in the construction of her own marital desolation. In between the process of composition and initial publication, Lawrence’s somewhat overbearing and domineering mother passed away and so the story has been invested by members of the academic world with autobiographically directed psychology.

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