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Kangaroo

3.16  ·  Rating details ·  484 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Introduction by Nicolas Rothwell

After the Great War, Richard Lovat Somers, a writer, and Harriet, his wife, leave disillusioned Europe for Australia. Almost immediately, Somers comes into the orbit of the charismatic ‘Kangaroo’, who leads a shadowy political movement in Sydney. With its astonishing descriptions of the bush ‘biding its time with a terrible ageless watchfuln
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Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 29th 2018 by Text Publishing (first published 1923)
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Average rating 3.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  484 ratings  ·  66 reviews


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Petra-X
Jul 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished Accidental Death of an Anarchist and this book goes well with it. Political, socialist or anarchist, not sure yet. I have generally identified myself as a socio-anarchist, so I quite enjoy books exploring aspects of this political philosophy.

Exchange between two men, one an Australian, one, who is probably the author himself, English:

"We won't be having women in if we can help it. I don't believe in it, do you?"

"No, not in real politics, no."

****

I got the wrong end of the stic
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Bill
Believe it or not, with all the thousands of books that I have read in my life so far, I had never read a book by D. H. Lawrence. Until now. And unfortunately, I didn't make a very good choice in which novel of his to read first.

In fact, it's hardly really a novel at all, as there is almost no plot whatsoever. The book mainly consists of philosophical musings, which to be perfectly honest, I found quite boring, for the most part.

What little plot there is, concerns the two main characters, Rich
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Rob
Jun 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fascism, kindle, fiction
A strange book that seems to be bits of different writing sewn together with the seams still exposed.
Beautiful lyrical writing about the Australian bush, just gorgeous and he does seem to get this country. I came back from the NSW south coast, where much of the book is set. His descriptions of this place are perfect down to the stickiness of the seawater.
When Lawrence describes human interactions, he gets them very right. The descriptions of the different types of male silences are very, very g
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David
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
As with The Plumed Serpent ... the challenge with DH Lawrence is that there's a lot about honesty, frankness ... lots about the nature of being a man and the fundamentals of men relating to each other ... but we never, ever talk about homosexuality. It literally doesn't exist. And if it isn't gay, the modern reader needs to know it isn't gay. Otherwise, we spend the whole time going "Oh. Gay."

"And he wanted to know him, to talk to him. He wanted to get to the bottom of him."

"Yet Jack did want t
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Vishal
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kangaroo is D H Lawrence’s love poem to a strangely beautiful land-Australia. The sense of place he creates is so rich and so deep, you could almost be there among the crystal blue skies, smelling golden wattle deep in the bush, or hear his glassy seas roar against the wild, rocky shores. Weird as this may sound, I have a strange feeling of having experienced Australia (along with a few other countries) in a past life, and this book reinforces it.

I picked Kangaroo up on a whim, having heard the
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Linda
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This Lawrence book was written while he was "stuck" in Australia. The entire time he was on the continent he wavered between desparately wanting to leave and deciding it wasn't so bad and he would stay for awhile. He eventually decided he HAD to leave but had a month before a steamer would be leaving from Sydney.

He wrote this book, largely about his experiences there with an attempt at adding a plot concerning a group of mainly ex-soldiers (WWWI) who want to change the government. They are lead
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Robert
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book purified a part of me and restored my faith in what it is to be human. Lawrence's honesty and artistic integrity made me realize how far the modern world wants us to travel from being human - what makes us valuable and vital.

His words are so beautiful. Many of the chapters are deeply moving and full of personal experience and emotion. The book is also semi-autobiographical. This is Lawrence's greatest work. It is full of who he is and how he loves the human condition and yet struggles
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John
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
KANGAROO
I had read Kangaroo 40 years ago and vaguely recall that I had liked it. I had recently been studying Plato’s Republic and was possibly more accepting of the idea of a benevolent dictator; I was also just out of adolescence so I could relate to this most adolescent of novels. Rereading now, about halfway through, the word “odious” came to mind. I was astonished that the much-acclaimed Lawrence could write not only such drivel, but in places write it so badly. Here was a problem to solve.
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Bhaskar Thakuria
In D.H.Lawrence's own words Kangaroo was "the deepest and most profound of his novels". Never have I found Lawrence's prose more deep, more vigorous, more stimulating, and full of more ideas and insights. True, he wrote this novel in a more political context, and this was in complete variance with the rest of his fictional universe. Even then, as noted biographer Michael Squires writes in his book Living at the Edge: A Biography of D.H. Lawrence & Frieda Von Richthofen, how could an author, a ne ...more
Jonathan
Aug 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was a difficult book to read, as for the most part I didn't really like it. I found hardly any of the characters to be particularly appealing, the politics simplistic, and the frequent racist overtones quite disheartening from an author I admire so much.

The book was saved for me (and largely contributing to its 3 stars) by the brilliant chapter entitled 'The Nightmare', based upon Lawrence's experiences during the First World War when he and his wife Frieda were continually harassed by the
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Matthew Thompson
Some of the sharpest insights into Australia ever written, and all from only a few secluded weeks in Oz.
Rebecca McNutt
I really liked Kangaroo, but I found that it was lacking in character depth and that it dragged on in some parts.
Lance Ramsey
Strangely poignant, this confused and rambling semi-autobiographical account of DH Lawrence's own trip to Australia is full of reflections on the nature of man, politics and the differences between England and Oz. Written hastily in a few weeks, it sometimes cries out for editing - some characters never distinguish themselves or stand out strongly from others (Richard Lovat Somers, the main character, included). Yet Kangaroo, once he enters the novel, blazes through the pages, and burns right th ...more
Nicko
Apr 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's good reason why this book does not score highly, has mixed reviews, is not widely read, and my dad had to go to lots of effort to track down a copy. Generically mixed novel, part autobiographical, part political treatise, part travelogue. Unlike other DH Lawrence - it's hardly Lady Chatterley's lover. I loved the descriptions of Australian bush and beach landscapes and Sydney life of the times. I found the long interlocutory dialogues, thick with political symbols & metaphors, tedious. ...more
Mark Chillingworth
Although written in the 1920s still as relevant today as then. DH Lawrence describes many of the emotions and confusions I experienced living in Australia so well. A brilliant tale of searching for a connection, failure to understand and the wonders of the Australian landscape. Challenging, but well worth reading.
Steve Carter
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This novel is from 1922 and it reflects the trauma of the time after World War I.
Much of this trauma is personal, within. Big human events can cause questions, wondering, how this can be avoided in the future and how is this global world going to get on. The reverberations of the war are also in the people in one way or another, their movements and desires.

There is a bit of a meandering on the road plot to this novel but it is mainly a 365 page journey into the interior of the Richard character
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Jake
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Old D.H. had a pretty miserable time during WWI. He was declared unfit for military service and since he was lollygagging around England and writing books while men his age were fighting a war (which he didn't believe in) he was viewed with suspicion and was surveilled. After the war he left England in disgust (the banning of his books probably contributed as well) and went to Australia in search of freedom. This book surprised me in that it was quite political, which I didn't expect from Lawren ...more
Mark
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Not having read much of Lawrence, besides an adolescent's attempt to find "the hot parts" of Lady Chatterly's Lover, this came as quite a surprise. He obviously loved Australia and his descriptions of nature in places rival those of Tolstoy (for me.) and yet it was a little disconcerting to find words such as were used a century ago such as "Chink" "Dago" and "Nigger." (Yet, only once per). All the same, that was how they did talk in those days, esp the upper-class English & Burdened White Men o ...more
Wayne
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the curious re how others see us
A LENGTHY PRELUDE:

It was somewhere written that a visitor is more struck
by the peculiarities of a place than those
who live there and are accustomed to it.

Which is why I like asking Australian migrants
who have lived here for a fair while:
"What do you really think of Australia?"
I don't often ask because you are putting people on the spot,
so one must be judicious about to whom one poses this question.

As a result I have only asked it twice

I have asked it once and was met with embarrassment and
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Gary Daly
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a splurge of D. H. Lawrence novels in the last months on 2018 and Kangaroo (1923) is a great book. The Australian centre from which Lawrence crafts this story of post Word War One society, politics and atmosphere proved to be a riveting and pleasurable read. His short stay in Australia following his tempestuous War years spent in rural England is expressed in a most direct and fantastic manner. The characters and the incidents expressed by the uncertain character of Richard Somerset in the ...more
Dustin
May 02, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, literature
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leanne
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One of the books written during Lawrence’s stay in Australia. Not his finest work. Supposedly a novel, it is semi-autobiographical, and is more a self-indulgent philosophical soliloquy than a satisfying read. Overly long at 492 pages, a decent editor could have cut that by 200 pages. Very little happens and much skimming was required to mercifully reach the end. But there were rare literary gems hidden amongst all the navel gazing. The descriptions of the Australian bush, the astute perceptions ...more
Patrice Sartor
I've read a number of DH Lawrence's books, and loved them all. Yet I did not enjoy Kangaroo; I didn't even make it past the first chapter. This is the first of his novels I read since I was in my early 20s, though I am not sure if my age is related to my inability to like the book. Maybe it's time to revoke my intellectual card, if I ever had one. After all, I strongly prefer Spartacus to Rome, and I thought The Tree of Life was one big stinker of a movie. And now this, despite the fact that Law ...more
Roger
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Hmmm. It's been a very long time since I've read any Lawrence, and time has not done him any favours, especially in this, one of his minor novels. The product of his short stay in Australia, Kangaroo is a bit of a mish-mash: part polemic, part philosophy, part thriller, part nature-novel, it shows the rapidity of it's writing too evidently in too many places to be a classic.

There is a strong autobiographical core to this novel. The main character, Richard Lovat Somers, is clearly based on Lawren
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Gary Reger
If Lawrence had a stout editor, "Kangaroo" would be about one-third the length it is. Written over five weeks in a burst of 30,000 words/week, the novel is stuffed with long, rambling, repetitive passages about "soul" or "revenge" or "humanity" or most disjointedly the "dark god" his main character Somers both worships and fears. This "dark god" may be sexuality, or some anti-Christian force, or just a standing-athwart of British civilization. Never mind -- whatever it may be, reading about it g ...more
Cosmo Crawley
Richard Lovat Somers is an English poet on holiday in 1920s Australia. He meets a lawyer and ex-army officer named Cooley who leads a secret fascist organisation which aims to transform Australia into a land of order, obedience, racial purity and brotherly love. Cooley tries to tempt Somers into joining his gang thus: “Man needs a quiet, gentle father who uses his authority in the name of living life, and who is absolutely stern against anti-life. I offer no creed. I offer myself, my heart of wi ...more
Nicole
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tien
Nov 22, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, classic
I have only read 3 of his books and I didn't rate them that high (2-3 stars) but this one was the worst. I didn't like the protagonist who, at the beginning of the book, arrived in 'colonial' Australia prepared to dislike everything about it (even if he became attached to the country later, I still didn't like him). He compared the young Aussie men frolicking at the beach to animals and let's just say, the rest of his descriptions of the people were just as flattering. Then he got involved in so ...more
Emma Papworth
Lawrence, and his character Somers, reacted strongly against what he saw as the empty materialism of the New World and colonialism, yet the book has a lingering nostalgia for England and Europe. I think DH. Lawrence really captures the landscape and atmosphere of Australia, the ‘spirit of place’ and the authentic voice of Australia's society, people and politics at the time.

There are of course similar themes prevalent in his other novels such as the nature of being a man and the fundamentals of
...more
Bohdan Pechenyak
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
I love all of D.H. Lawrence, but this just might be one of his best works, next to the Rainbow/Women in Love duology. Based on the three months that Lawrence spent in Australia in early 1920s, this novel combines the personal with the political in the characteristic Laurentian way. Exploring the deep drives motivating both the socialist and the fascist movements by looking at the basics of human relationships both individually and socially, Lawrence seems to echo such thinkers as Friedrich Nietz ...more
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David Herbert Richards Lawrence was an English writer of the 20th century, whose prolific and diverse output included novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays, travel books, paintings, translations, literary criticism and personal letters. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, Lawrence confronts issues rel ...more

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