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But there are dozens and dozens of pages in which the electric surge of Lawrence's prose is channelled into the tighter form of a lyric, with devastating effect. The great creature poems. The beautifully hit coffin nails of his last poems about dying. And most of them remember "Snake"? New at the time, that is - because one of the other striking things about Lawrence's poetry is how fertile a growth point it became for later writers - Ted Hughes, especially.

Not only did Hughes learn a great deal from Lawrence's way of seeing, he also adapted his long lines, and note-taking style in Moortown Diary, especially , and so licensed a style that might be described as the opposite of Larkin's other-English tradition. Its rawness can sometimes be too bloody for its own good, its formal freedom can easily become slack, its relentless attention to things-in-themselves can hinder the philosophic mind.

But on a good day - and there are plenty of good days - it has quite phenomenal energy and excitement. If Worthen had held us among Lawrence's poems for a little longer, and at a greater depth, he would have done his man a favour. As he would also have done if he'd explored certain subjects that are common to both Lawrence and Hughes. Not just the subject of animals, but that of the environment in general. For years at the end of the last century, Lawrence's "phallic consciousness" gripped popular and critical attention. If we gave that a rest for a while and looked at his eco-consciousness instead, we'd find that Lawrence was just as far ahead of the game in this respect as in others.

His poems about bats, snakes, bugs, flowers, swifts are not just brilliant evocations of those creatures. They express a gigantic network of sympathies, held together in an extraordinary focus of concentration. In the old days, this was generally liked but downgraded as "nature writing".

Youth and early career

Now that we think differently about the planet, and the community of species we share it with, we should raise Lawrence's contribution to the high position it deserves. Topics Books. For her part, Gudrun, unlike the helplessly dominated mare, never yields herself fully to Gerald.

In fact, she does all she can to thwart and humiliate him, and their relationship soon becomes a naked battle of wills. It is redundant to say that this is a battle to the death, for, on the grounds that it is fought, the battle itself is death in Lawrencian terms. Believing as he still does that the only means of withstanding dissolution is to center his life on close human ties, he casts about him to discover precisely the kind of relationship that will best serve or enact his quest for being.

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So polluted had the river of life become in modern Europe, however, that Lawrence could no longer bring himself to believe that this transcendence, ephemeral as it was to begin with, could survive the general cataract of dissolution. Moreover, even when Birkin and Ursula do find fulfillment together, it is not enough; for Birkin, at any rate, the new dispensation must involve other people as well as themselves.

For both reasons, the quest for integrated wholeness of being, a mystery into which Birkin and Ursula are only new initiates, becomes translated into a pilgrimage through space. They must depart from the old, dying world and, like Lawrence and Frieda after the war, proceed in search of holy ground. The bond between men and the fascination of powerful male leaders became more and more of an obsession in these novels.

The analogy presented difficulties, however, and the struggle to express his essentially religious vision in political terms proved fatal to his art.


There are brilliant moments in all of these novels, especially in The Plumed Serpent, yet the alien aspects of the foreign lands he visited finally obscured the central issues in what was, at bottom, a quest for self-discovery. In one of these areas, apart from the great urban centers, he would establish a utopian colony to be called Rananim. There he would start over again, free from the runaway entropy of modern Europe. During this prolonged period of yearning, his vision of America as the New World of the soul, the locus of the regeneration of humankind, took on an increasingly definite form.

He was imaginatively committed to it even before settling near Taos, New Mexico, where he and Frieda lived on a mountain ranch for most of the next three years. Because of four centuries of white European domination, that spirit had never been fully realized, yet despite the domination it still lay waiting beneath the surface for an annunciation.

The terms of this vision, even apart from other factors having to do with his frustrating contacts with Mable Dodge Luhan and her coterie of artists in Taos, all but made it inevitable that Lawrence would sooner or later situate his American novel in a land where the Indian presence was more substantial than it was in the southwestern United States. It was natural enough that he turned his eyes south to Mexico, a land that actually had been caught up in revolution for more than a decade—a revolution moreover in which the place of the Indian who constituted more than 30 percent of the population in the national life was a central issue.

Reading pre-Columbian history and archaeology, Lawrence found in Aztec mythology a ready-made source of symbols and in the story of the Spanish conquest an important precedent for his narrative of contemporary counterrevolution and religious revival. The writing of his Quetzalcoatl, the working title of what would become The Plumed Serpent, proved unusually difficult, however.

One reason the novel proved recalcitrant was that Lawrence became increasingly aware during his three journeys into the Mexican interior that his visionary Mexico and the real thing were far from compatible. Rather than qualify his program for world regeneration in the light of the widening breach between his long-cherished dream and the disappointing reality, he elaborated the dream more fully and explicitly than ever, inflating his claims for it in a grandiose rhetoric that only called its sincerity into question.

Lawrence, however, could not let go of his expectation that in Mexico the primordial spirit of place would answer to his clarion call.

Analysis of D. H. Lawrence's Novels | Literary Theory and Criticism

At the same time, the realist in Lawrence allowed evidence to the contrary to appear in the form of his extraordinarily vivid perceptions of the malevolence of the Mexican landscape and its dark-skinned inhabitants. Even these, however, were forced into the pattern of New World apocalypse.

In his desperation to have it both ways, doggedly asserting the identity of his own spiritual quest and the course of events in the literal, external world, he contrived a kind of symbolic or mythic formula in which sexual, religious, and political rebirth are not only equated but also presented as mutually dependent. The result, according to most critics, is a complicated muddle in which the parts, some of which are as fine as anything he ever wrote, do not make a whole. For Lawrence, however, the muddle itself would ultimately prove instructive.

Disgusted by the tawdry imitation of a modern European capital that is Mexico City, the seat of the failed revolution, Kate journeys westward to the remote lakeside village of Sayula. This injunction is aimed not only at Kate but also at contemporary Mexico itself, which, beckoned by the pulsating drumbeats and hymns of the Men of Quetzalcoatl, is urged to turn its back on the imported white creeds Catholicism and Bolshevism and rediscover its indigenous roots. Thus described, this doctrine may seem a welcome elaboration of the star-equilibrium theory of human relationships advanced by Birkin in the earlier novel.

What do I care if he kills people? His flame is young and clean. Heis Huitzilopochtli, and I am Malintzi.

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The effort nearly cost him his life, bringing on a severe attack of tuberculosis complicated by malaria. Purging him of this ideological sickness, the writing of The Plumed Serpent proved as salutary to his later career as Sons and Lovers had been to his period of greatest accomplishment. When Lawrence settled in southern Europe after leaving America in late , he began to reshape his spiritual map in ways suggestive of his shifting outlook during his last years.

The problem with the United States, he decided, was that everyone was too tense. Americans took themselves and their role in the world far too seriously and were unable to slacken their grip on themselves for fear that the world would collapse as a result. In contrast, the Europeans he was thinking chiefly of southern Europeans rather than his own countrymen were freer and more spontaneous because they were not controlled by will and could therefore let themselves go.

Whether this distinction between America and Europe has any validity for others, for the post-America Lawrence it meant a great deal. As always in Lawrence, the physical setting offers a crucial barometer of sensibility. Between the two is a tiny, ever-diminishing remnant of old Sherwood Forest. It is here that Constance Connie Chatterley and her lover, Oliver Mellors, the gamekeeper, find—or rather create—life together. Aman could no longer be private and withdrawn. The world allows no hermits.

DH Lawrence: The iconic English literary seer who stood apart from the herd

Aparaplegic victim of the war, Clifford is both literally and symbolically deadened to the life of the passions. All his energy is directed to verbal, abstract, or social undertakings in which actual contact is minimal. Clifford believes in the form and apparatus of the social life and is indifferent to private feelings. A director of mines, he sees the miners as objects rather than men, mere extensions of the pit machinery. Clifford also writes fashionably shallow stories and entertains other writers and critics to curry favor. He modernizes the coal mines with considerable success.

By the end of the novel, he turns to his attendant Mrs. Bolton for the only intimacy left to him: a regressive, perverse form of contact. Such heaping of abuse onto Clifford, far in excess of what is needed to establish his symbolic role, undoubtedly detracts from the novel. So long as she remains with Clifford, Connie finds herself in a condition of static bondage in which her individuality is circumscribed by the function identified in her title.

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She is progressively gripped by malaise. Less obvious is the overlapping of this fairy-tale pattern with a counterpattern of male transformation such as that found in the tale of the Frog Prince. For Mellors, too, is trapped in a kind of bondage, alone in his precarious refuge in the wood. When she tries to get Mellors to tell her that he loves her, he rejects the abstract, overused word in favor of the earthier Anglo-Saxon language of the body and its functions.

Of course, even the best of intentions do not necessarily lead to artistic achievement.