Michael Black, 4 October 1984
The whole text of Mr Noon has now been published for the first time, as a volume in the Cambridge Edition of the Letters and Works of D.H. Lawrence. It is an unfinished novel of 292 pages, of which only the first 93 have previously been printed. Lawrence wrote the book between May 1920, when he had just finished The Lost Girl, and some time in 1921. He gave up working on Mr Noon in order to dash off the travel book Sea and Sardinia, and was at the same time writing Aaron’s Rod. He had trouble finishing both the novels: Aaron’s Rod did get finished, but Mr Noon did not. Its first part was long enough to be treated as a novella, and was published as such in A Modern Lover in 1934. It attracted little attention. This part has since 1968 been available in the collected volume Phoenix II, but I think it has not been much read. Without its continuation people hardly knew what to make of it. As a member of the Editorial Board of the Cambridge Edition I cannot in the ordinary way review the volume. But I have the advantage of having lived with the text for longer than the reviewers, and offer this first attempt at a critical essay on the whole novel. It may usefully supplement Dr Lindeth Vasey’s expert introduction to the text which she has established and annotated in the form now standard in the Cambridge edition.