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The Prussian Officer and Other Stories (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of D. H. Lawrence) [Paperback]

D. H. Lawrence , Professor John Worthen

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Book Description

1 Oct 1987 0521289858 978-0521289856 Reprint
The Prussian Officer and Other Stories, Lawrence's first collection of short stories, was published in England in 1914 and in the USA in 1916. It contains some of the greatest stories he ever wrote: 'Odour of Chrysanthemums', 'Daughters of the Vicar', 'The Prussian Officer', and 'The White Stocking', with settings ranging from the mining community of Eastwood to Germany before the First World War. The text of this new edition is based on Lawrence's manuscripts, typescripts and corrected proofs, and is the first to remove the corruptions introduced by copyists, typists and printers. The introduction sets out the history of each story and of the collection itself. There is a textual apparatus recording variant readings and full notes explain historical references and other allusions, dialect forms and foreign words. Two important appendixes print the earliest surviving fragment of 'Odour of Chrysanthemums' and the 1911 version of 'Daughters of the Vicar'.

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Book Description

The Prussian Officer contains some of the greatest stories Lawrence ever wrote: 'Odour of Chrysanthemums', 'Daughters of the Vicar', 'The Prussian Officer', and 'The White Stocking'. This edition, based on Lawrence's manuscripts, typescripts and corrected proofs, is the first to remove the corruptions introduced by copyists, typists and printers.

About the Author

D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), English novelist, storywriter, critic, poet and painter, one of the greatest figures in 20th-century English literature. Among his works, Sons and Lovers appeared in 1913, The Rainbow in 1915, Women In Love in 1920, and many others. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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They had marched more than thirty kilometres since dawn, along the white, hot road, where occasional thickets of trees threw a moment of shade, then out into the glare again. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection of stories 29 Jan 2004
By John Forfar - Published on
The Prussian Officer is a well-written moving piece based on the emotional effects of conforming to military discipline. Attention to detail is superb. Other stories in this collection are of the same quality. I recommend this be added to your todo list.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lawrence in short form. 6 Sep 2004
By Diane Schirf - Published on

The Prussian Officer and Other Stories by D. H. Lawrence. Edited by John Worthen with an introduction and notes by Brian Finney. Recommended.


In The Prussian Officer and Other Stories, D. H. Lawrence explores in short story form the themes that dominate many of his best-known novels. "The Daughters of the Vicar," for example, echoes both Women in Love and Sons and Lovers, where one relationship is out of balance and the other shows some promise, and where a son is in near-complete subjection to his mother-even after her death. The question left unanswered at the end of "Daughters" is whether collier Alfred Durant will be any more successful at forming a lasting relationship with Louisa than artist Paul Morel was. The answer would seem to be "yes" since he and Louisa are to be married soon-although in the other stories, marriage does not mean a meaningful or lasting relationship has been achieved. It's up to reader speculation whether they will end up like the couple in "The White Stocking" or the couple in "The Odour of Chrysanthemums."

Lawrence's world is focused on dominance and subjection, whether sexual, social, or economic, and the resulting imbalances. For all their social loftiness, the vicar's family is as poor or poorer than the uneducated colliers whom coal mining (ironically) elevates economically if not socially. As in the mines, there is a going down and coming up of the classes, with the declining rural gentry no better off than the rising class of miners and their managers. Lawrence experienced the mixing of these disparate groups in his own family, with his educated and domineering mother and his ignorant and brutal father. It's not difficult to find the origins of Elizabeth and Walter Bates in "The Odour of Chrysanthemums." In this story, Lawrence overtly articulates the alienation the wife feels from her husband, once death has given her the objective distance to realise it.

While compelling, this story demonstrates what I believe is Lawrence's predominant weakness-a heavy handedness of the author's voice in the narration of thought. Across all the stories (and the novels), his characters have similar thoughts and reactions, often expressed in similar terms that seem unlikely and unnatural for those particular characters. In many cases, you could lift entire sentences and even passages with little revision and transplant them seamlessly into any of his other stories or novels. While most critics, better informed than I about Lawrence's social and cultural milieu and his artistic intent, understand this as part of his "metaphysic," I find it artificial and tiresome. Reading so many stories together in a compressed time period highlights their similarities in theme, tone, and point of view.

As an example, this passage sounds less like the voice of the wife of a dead collier and than that of Lawrence himself: "There were the children-but the children belonged to life. This dead man had nothing to do with them. He and she were only channels through which life had flowed to issue in the children." At a certain level, many of Lawrence's characters have no voice that is recognizable as their own-only as his. They are in subjugation to his dominance, which burdens and overwhelms this collection.

Two stories that stand out are set in the military: "The Prussian Officer" (originally "Honour and Arms") and "The Thorn in the Flesh." In the former, a young orderly revenges himself on his rigid and sexually sadistic captain, then dies blindly to restore the balance. In the latter, the runaway soldier and his country servant girlfriend find spiritual elevation and detachment from their mundane concerns in their sexual unification. They are free to face the repercussions of their respective transgressions with indifference. "A Fragment of Stained Glass" is memorable for its medieval setting, sadism, and eeriness, but is flawed by a particularly weak ending that adds nothing and detracts from the tale's previous tone.

The Prussian Officer and Other Stories is a must for anyone interested in Lawrence and his development. Most of these stories are unforgettable, partly because of their symbolism and partly because they integrate pieces of Lawrence's overarching metaphysic. As a side note, my favourite Lawrence story-indeed, one of my favourite short stories by any author-is not part of this collection: the haunting "The Rocking-Horse Winner."


6 September 2004.

Diane L. Schirf.

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Collection of Stories 4 Oct 2004
By Diaspora Chic - Published on
The collection of short stories I read in "The Prussian Officer and Other Stories" were a good selection of what life was like in Nottingham, where the author was born. D.H. Lawrence's pieces like "Odour of the Chrysanthemums" and "The Daughters of the Vicar" reflect on his childhood and the city he lived in. The reader has that feeling that reminds them of their town and the people that lived there. The people in his stories have some influence on what their lives were like.

I read some of the pieces in class and actually found myself immersed into them. The use of dialogue, details of the countryside, and the tensions between class, gender, and sexuality. Reading these pieces I grew to appreciate literature and its structure.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lot of detail, little dialogue, kind of boring 20 Dec 2012
By Jason 'Shiroi Gaijin' Arbogast - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
The attention to detail in this story is incredible; however, the short story of "The Prussian Officer" was rather just BLAH.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful writing 20 April 2000
By Sara Benovc - Published on
The Prussian Officer is one of the most moving and striking stories I have ever read. The imagery and emotion that the reader expiriences will not soon be forgotten.
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