We like to think of the old-fashioned American classics as children’s books. Just childishness, on our part. The old American art-speech contains an alien quality, which belongs to the American continent and to nowhere else. But, of course, so long as we insist on reading the books as children’s tales, we miss all that.
That’s a line from the introductory chapter to D. H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature. We’ll explore this spirited and vital work of appreciation and criticism as a great investigation of the body and soul in America Letters.
In this episode of The Custom House we let D. H. Lawrence do the talking. His Studies in Classic American Literature is a powerful and incisive investigation of American personality done through a thorough reading the literature of “this evening land”. For the radio we introduce the book and then present a reading of Chapter One, “The Spirit of Place.”
The extended cut replaces Chapter One with excerpts from the chapters on Whitman, Benjamin Franklin, and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.