Kangaroo, set in Australia, is D. H. Lawrence's eighth novel. He wrote the first draft in just forty-five days while living south of Sydney, in 1922, and revised it three months later in New Mexico. The descriptions of the country are among the most vivid and sympathetic ever penned, and the book fuses lightly disguised autobiography with an exploration of political ideas at an immensely personal level. His anxiety about the future of democracy, caught as it was in the turbulent cross currents of fascism and socialism, is only partly appeased by his vision of a new bond of comradeship between men based on their unique separateness. Lawrence's alter ego Richard Somers departs for America to continue his search.
'Adapted from D.H. Lawrence's story of love, violence and political intrigue, based on his personal experiences in Australia in 1922. 'Kangaroo' - the code name of the charismatic leader of a secret fascist army - brings all his dark power to bear to seduce the writer into embracing his ideas, but the writer and his wife find strength in their love reawakened in the exotic southern land.'
Source: Screen Australia.
'Set in Australia in 1922, Kangaroo tells the story of English writer Lovat and his wife, who arrive in Sydney in search of a new life.'
Radio Times, 2 March 2000, p.124.
'The Quest for Cooley is the story of the 40-year search for the identity of the real life figure that DH Lawrence portrayed as the Australian political leader Benjamin Cooley in his 1923 Australian novel, Kangaroo. Through his intensive research in Australia and overseas, Robert Darroch, a former investigative journalist on The Bulletin, discovered that Lawrence ran across an actual secret army in Sydney in 1922, and unmasked it in his novel of Australia. This is a story that many people and interests have tried to prevent coming out. It exposes the fascist underbelly - what Lawrence called "the horrible paws" - of post-WW1 Australian society and politics.' (Publication summary)
'The Silvery Freedom ... and the Horrible Paws is the story of how DH Lawrence's 8th major novel, Kangaroo, was composed and written. The title refers to Lawrence's realisation - half-way through writing the book - that he had stumbled on a secret para-military organisation in Australia in 1922. "It was as if," he wrote in Kangaroo, "the silvery freedom suddenly turned, and showed the scaly back of a reptile, and the horrible paws."
'This is a story that many people and interests tried to prevent coming out. It reveals the fascist underbelly of post-WW1 Australian society and politics.
'It is the second volume of the author's Lawrence's 99 Days in Australia, which together tell the story of how the 20th-century's most controversial author came to write his most surprising work of "fiction".' (Publication summary)
'The first full-length account of D. H. Lawrence’s rich engagement with a country he found both fascinating and frustrating, D. H. Lawrence’s Australia focuses on the philosophical, anthropological and literary influences that informed the utopian and regenerative visions that characterise so much of Lawrence’s work. David Game gives particular attention to the four novels and one novella published between 1920 and 1925, what Game calls Lawrence’s “Australian period,” shedding new light on Lawrence’s attitudes towards Australia in general and, more specifically, towards Australian Aborigines, women and colonialism. He revisits key aspects of Lawrence’s development as a novelist and thinker, including the influence of Darwin and Lawrence’s rejection of eugenics, Christianity, psychoanalysis and science. While Game concentrates on the Australian novels such as Kangaroo and The Boy in the Bush, he also uncovers the Australian elements in a range of other works, including Lawrence’s last novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Lawrence lived in Australia for just three months, but as Game shows, it played a significant role in his quest for a way of life that would enable regeneration of the individual in the face of what Lawrence saw as the moral collapse of modern industrial civilisation after the outbreak of World War I.' (Publication summary)
The Scaly Back of a Reptile and the Horrible Paws is the result of Darroch’s research into D.H. Lawrence’s weeks in New South Wales in 1922.
'The desire to challenge or escape colonial provincialism in search of a freer, more cosmopolitan modernity finds expression in three works of fiction by women writers that stage the drama of ferry wreck on Sydney Harbour, and that thread - as Wai Chee Dimock would say - local Australian scenes into the deeper time of world literature: Christina Stead's short story 'Day of Wrath' (1934), Eleanor Dark's novel Waterway (1938) and The Transit of Venus (1980) by Shirley Hazzard' [p. 102].
'D. H. Lawrence came to Australia searching. He didn't know what he was actually looking for or where he would find it. But he had to get away from England, from Europe, and Australia was far enough away for him to search for 'something that brings me peace'.'
'When D.H. Lawrence arrived in Australia in 1922, he defined himself, as Judith Ruderman remindsus, as 'a man without a country'; he had, by this time in his life, taken many bold steps to become a man no longer 'firmly moored in his class, nation, or gender' (Ruderman 2003, 50). Lawrence frequently used gendered terms to describe the tantalizing appeal of crossing the border between the old world and the new, proclaiming, in Fantasia of the Unconscious, for example: 'You've got to know you're a man, and being a man means you must go on alone, ahead of the woman, to break a way through the old world into the new' (2004a, 218). Kangaroo presents Lawrence's first sustained attempt to respond to this call. He begins by describing Richard Lovatt Somer's realization that the old world was 'done for' and his imperative desire to go to 'the newest country, to young Australia' (1994, 13), a desire impelled by many of the same impulses that induced the Lawrences to make a similar journey. Nonetheless, from nearly the first page of this oddly uneven novel, Lawrence draws attention to Somers's English ideas about maleness, friendship, sexual desire, Marriage, power, class politics, and violence, as he describes his protagonist's increasingly more disorienting confrontations with Australian men who embody alternative ideas about male identity.' (p. 138)