The dominant view of D.H. Lawrence's work has long been that of F. R. Leavis, who confined Lawrence within an exclusively ethical and artistic tradition. In D.H. Lawrence: The Utopian Vision, Eugene Goodheart widens the context in which Lawrence should be understood to include European as well as English writers - Blake, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Freud among others.
Goodheart shows that the characteristic impulse of Lawrence's principal discovery was the bodily or physical life that he believed man had once possessed in his pre-civilized past and must now fully recover if future civilized life is possible. Goodheart's argument fully engages the paradoxes of Lawrence's writing. He is at once the last great representative of the moral tradition of the English novel and of the English Protestant imagination and a novelist without precedent, a diabolist in the service of the dark gods. He rejects the claims of society, while simultaneously lamenting the thwarting of the societal instinct. The oppositions and paradoxes in the work are the expression of a single, not always coherent, revolutionary imagination. D.H. Lawrence: The Utopian Vision provides a rigorous and critical analysis of the ideological character of Lawrence's novels and essays, in particular the effect of his utopianism on his views of nature, myth, and religious experience, while responding to his aesthetic achievement. Goodheart's Lawrence is a prophetic artist whose vision is at once inspiring and dangerous.
In the new introduction to the book, Goodheart reflects upon the vicissitudes of Lawrence's reputation since the sixties when the book first appeared and his relevance to the concerns of our own time.