Aristocratic writers and new continents: Lawrence and tocqueville on democracy


Abstract
This short essay attempts to bring D.H. Lawrence and Alexis de Tocqueville into the same field of vision via a comparative assessment of the former's 1922 novel entitled 'Kangaroo' and the latter's classic study of the politics of the New World, 'Democracy in America.' It argues that as 'Good Europeans' the two writers were seeking both to learn from, as well as to teach about the meaning of modern civilization's transition to Democracy via the example provided by a specific national experiment 'in the field' - in Tocqueville's case as a result of his visit to America in the 1830's and in Lawrence's case as a result of his stay in Australia in the 1920's. The suggestion is that what Tocqueville's 'Democracy' is to America, so too Lawrence's 'Kangaroo'' is to Australia, which is to say that it is a book intended as a careful portrait of an 'actual democracy' (to use Lord Bryce's phrase) which is of universal significance in terms of the future of all societies moving in the direction of liberal freedom and democratic equality. In other words, the essay assumes that Lawrence's 'Kangaroo' may be taken as an 'update' of Tocqueville's classic study of democracy from almost a century before, even as Lord Bryce's 'The American Commonwealth' has always been so taken since its emergence about half way between the comparable studies of the 19th Century French 'sociologist' on the one hand and the 20th Century English novelist and the other.
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