English Professor Emeritus Completes 10-Year Project on D. H. Lawrence

Mornings in Mexico cover

Virginia Crosswhite Hyde (professor emeritus, English) has completed a 10-year project collecting and editing the essays D. H. Lawrence wrote in America about Southwestern and Mexican Indians.

One of only four American scholars—and the only American woman—selected to edit in the 48-volume project, Hyde saw her book, Mornings in Mexico and Other Essays, released in June by Cambridge University Press.

For the edition of 20 essays, Hyde said she worked with each essay's manuscripts, typescripts, and early publications.

"I found some of the material that had been lost or that was in private hands in Mexico and elsewhere," Hyde said.

Along with some of Lawrence's best-known essays, the volume includes some writings that have never been printed before and corrects parts of standard texts.

Hyde discovered Lawrence's work was often subject to editorial interferences. "One American publication silently omitted 14 paragraphs of one essay," she said.

The omissions left out almost all of his theme—that Native American dances "acknowledge the wonder" of life—and conveyed only a more negative message, Hyde said. In some cases, there was direct censorship, as in a change of the word "urine" to read "wine," she said.

Hyde's volume opens with essays from Oaxaca that have a Zapotec Indian theme. These pieces reflect Lawrence's third and final trip to Mexico, in late 1924 and early 1925.

A majority of the essays concern the British novelist's years in New Mexico, where his Kiowa Ranch was the only property the Lawrences ever owned, Hyde said. Some of the essays in this volume were written while Lawrence lived at the ranch.

Virginia Hyde

Virginia Hyde

For six years beginning in 1999, Hyde spearheaded, with writer Tina Ferris, an international effort to list Lawrence's Kiowa Ranch near Taos, New Mexico, on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. This effort rallied English literature societies around the world. The book-length nomination, written by Ferris and Hyde and sponsored by the Lawrence Society of North America and the University of New Mexico, succeeded in 2004, contributing to preservation of the site.

Hyde said Lawrence wrote a previously unpublished version of a popular essay, "Pan in America," while he was rebuilding the ranch cabins in 1924 along with workers from Taos Pueblo.

"They would all gather around a campfire at night, and that experience comes through in the essay," Hyde said. A standard version of the essay is now known as an early leader in ecological attitudes towards the environment, and the new version enlarges significantly upon that meaning.

Lawrence concludes in the essay "New Mexico" that racial relations "depend on the individual" and that he had learned the most about religion and deep life-issues from his experiences among the Southwestern Indians, Hyde said.

Hyde is also publishing a volume of essays, based on the new Mornings in Mexico, by nine international scholars. 'Terra Incognita': D. H. Lawrence at the Frontiers, co-edited with Earl Ingersoll, is due out in early 2010 and contains the first critical essays to utilize the new texts, she said.

Hyde taught at WSU for 35 years. In 2005, she received the Harry T. Moore Award for lifetime achievement in her field from the international Lawrence Society.

Hyde's teaching specialties are in early twentieth-century literature, Victorian literature, and medieval Arthurian literature. Her previous books have included The Risen Adam (1992), two volumes of essays (2009, with Earl Ingersoll), and an edition of Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent (1995, with L. D. Clark).

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