The Etruscan civilisation, which flourished from the 8th until the 5th century BC in what is now Tuscany, is one of the most fascinating and mysterious in history. An uninhibited, elemental people, the Etruscans enthralled D.H. Lawrence, who craved their 'old wisdom', the secret of their vivacity and love of life. To him they represented the antithesis of everything he despised in the modern world, perhaps because their spontaneity and naturalness struck a chord with his own quest for personal and artistic freedom - so often censured or repressed. Lawrence approaches the enigmatic Etruscans as a poet, passionately and searchingly, and so the reader is swept up in his luminous descriptions of a utopian world where dancing and feasting, art and music were everything. The exhilaration of Lawrence in his Etruscan adventures stands in stark contrast to his intimations of the darkness of Mussolini's Italy - at a time when Europe was beginning its inexorable drift towards tragedy. The last of Lawrence's travel books, 'Etruscan Places' is an ephemeral and vivid account, replete with hauntingly evocative descriptions of the way of life of this once great civilisation.
D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), novelist, poet, playwright, painter, critic, is an icon of 20th century literature. He began writing at an early age, publishing his first novel, The White Peacock, when he was twenty-five, Sons and Lovers three years later and The Rainbow and Women in Love in his thirties. His hatred of militarism, openly expressed during the First World War, sparked a wave of vilification that forced him to leave England and embark on what he called his 'Savage Pilgrimage'. He spent the remainder of his life travelling - to America, Italy, Austria, Mexico, the South of France and Sri Lanka - and it was during this time that he wrote such classics as Sea and Sardinia, The Plumed Serpent and Lady Chatterley's Lover. With the exception of E.M. Forster, who called him 'the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation' and friends such as Aldous Huxley, Lawrence's obituarists were dismissive and hostile. It was not until The Lady Chatterley Trial thirty years after his death and the subsequent publication of the book that Lawrence was finally recognised as one of the great writers and thinkers of his age.