Aaron's Rod (novel)

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First edition (US, publ, Thomas Seltzer)

Aaron's Rod is a novel by D. H. Lawrence, started in 1917 and published in 1922.

Synopsis[edit]

The protagonist of this picaresque novel, Aaron Sisson, is a union official in the coal mines of the English Midlands, trapped in a stale marriage. He is also an amateur, but talented, flautist. At the start of the story he walks out on his wife and two children and decides on impulse to visit Italy. His dream is to become recognised as a professional musician. During his travels he encounters and befriends Rawdon Lilly, a Lawrence-like writer who nurses Aaron back to health when he is taken ill in post-war London. Having recovered his health, Aaron arrives in Florence. Here he moves in intellectual and artistic circles, argues about politics, leadership and submission, and has an affair with an aristocratic lady. The novel ends with an anarchist or fascist explosion that destroys Aaron’s instrument. Many incidents in the novel have direct parallels with events in Lawrence's own life.

Background[edit]

The biblical title refers to the rod of Aaron in the Old Testament, Moses' brother who built the Golden Calf in the desert for the worship of the Israelites. The rod, his divine symbol of authority and independence, finds its echo in the flute of Aaron Sissons.

Critical reception[edit]

Aaron's Rod is in places a hastily written text, some critics have argued, with a bitter view of humanity, especially the relationships between men and women. But in recent years its brilliance has been accepted by many critics. Many critics group it with other political or leadership novels by Lawrence, such as Kangaroo and The Plumed Serpent that show a tendency toward some form of authoritarianism or fascism.

Editions[edit]

  • Aaron's Rod (1922), edited by Mara Kalnins, Cambridge University Press, 1988,ISBN 0-521-25250-4

External links[edit]