“Lawrence’s London, Soseki’s London”
This paper compares Lawrence’s and Soseki Natsume’s experience of London. Soseki is one of the most eminent Japanese novelists and was sent to London as the first scholar of the Japanese government. But his days in London, which lasted for a little over two years from 1900 to 1902, turned out to be a disaster. During his time there, he suffers from serious neurosis and cannot go out from his lodging in the second half of his stay, and is ordered to come home early. On his return, he succeeds Lafcadio Hearn to become the professor at Tokyo University. But partially because of his illness which is not completely cured, and partially because of his suspicion of academia and unwillingness to teach English Literature at the university, he becomes a professional writer.
Lawrence and Soseki share some negative feelings concerning London. But their respective reasons are of course quite different. The core of Lawrence’s feeling about this metropolis is epitomized in such words as: “England is the easiest country in the world, easy, easy and nice…. England can afford to be so free and individual because no individual flame of life is sharp and vivid…. As you inhale the drug of easiness and niceness, your vitality begins to sink.”
Sokeki’s negatively ambivalent feelings towards London have quite different reasons. Being an elite scholar from a country that has just started modernizing through, to use his words, “an external pressure,” he is at first overwhelmed by the sheer degree of modern materialistic civilization, suffering severely from the sense of inferiority, to the extent that he locks himself up in his lodging.
Despite these differences in background, they are both “outsiders,” one internal and the other external, and both have a sharp sense of smell: they sniff out the symptoms of the upcoming malaise of the modern industrialized civilization.
“‘Uncanny’ Occurrences: Lawrentian Hampstead in ‘The Last Laugh’”
The city London has often inspired and aroused artistic and literary creativity. The multilayered and historic cityscape of London, contrasting slums and dark alleys with affluent districts of well-lit streets and orderly squares and gardens, has functioned as a stimulating literary setting for stories of crime and horror, whilst, in its role as a centre for high culture, commerce, and mechanisation, the city has been used as a metaphor for urbanisation and a medium through which to explore class distinctions and the divide between the city and country way of living. Given this, it is interesting that Lawrence, who himself lived for a time in London, nevertheless to a great extent resisted the allure of this city as a literary backdrop in his major works of fiction, tending to prefer his native Midlands. This reticence towards the metropolis can perhaps be traced in his non-fiction works as well: for instance, in his 1928 essay “Dull London”, Lawrence associated the city with “the sense of abject dullness” and “abject futility”, viewing it as a place that imprints an “uncanny” experience with the potential to create psychological mayhem. Despite Lawrence’s negative insights into London, some aspects of the city, in particular North London where he made several visits including a long stay in 1915, nonetheless had an impact on his literary imagination. Having lived at several houses in Hampstead, Lawrence appreciated the soothing natural beauty of the area, viewing it as an antidote to the mechanic hustle and bustle of the city, an idea which also emerges in his 1925 short story “The Last Laugh”, which will be the focus of this paper. Thus, this paper seeks to explore the spatial enunciations in Lawrence’s “The Last Laugh”, which depicts Hampstead in such a way that the place is constructed as a spatial as well as spiritual gateway, that is to say a liminal threshold existing between the drudgery of ordinary life and the mysterious revitalising spirit of nature. The subject of the story being related to the recurring and elusive presence of an eerie but riveting laughter, this paper aims to explore the possible underlying implications of this occult mystery in this particular geographical setting. In doing so, this work seeks to situate “The Last Laugh” within a critical dialogue between Lawrence’s construction of Hampstead as an uncanny space, and the ways in which this transcendent and dream-like spatial imagery operating at the heart of polarised notions (i.e. fear/laughter, beautiful/grotesque, earthly/supernatural), can be viewed as a literary trope mirroring Lawrence’s conflicting reflections on London.
“Catalytic London and the Voluptuous Suffocation: Nightmare and Sexual Revenge in ‘The Borderline’”
The importance of the Café Royal imbroglio in late December of 1923 cannot be overstated. Its ramifications, however, too often have been reduced by critics to an anecdotal voyeurism, a commentary subsumed in vivid pictorials about its staple of tears, vomit, protestations, avowals, and inebriation. The event remains relatively uncontextualized — that is, not sufficiently discussed within the full range and meaning of Lawrence’s volatile, vengeful, and ultimately insecure emotional state preceding and following that cathartic and testimonial dinner. Its seminal significance must be related precisely to its effect on him during that crucial and dislocating period before and after his return to London from Mexico in November. Something has catalyzed in Lawrence’s soul in those few hours at that legendary establishment founded in 1865 and still at Regent Street, a place that was considered at the time – Lawrence’s sad reaction to its Port wine aside – to have the greatest wine cellar in the world. What better place to experience a species of apocalyptic awareness that might galvanize him to soon create a memorable literary and unharnessed response?
My presentation attempts to decode Lawrence’s feelings of anger and betrayal directed at Frieda and Murry in late 1923 and early 1924. My focus is on the integrated evidence from two of his very different but roughly contemporary writings: an essay Lawrence writes about his return to England, “On Going Home,” and a remarkably unorthodox and ambiguously perverse short story, “The Borderline,” that he completes a few months after the Café Royal dinner. Both works have received scattered attention through the years, but critics have not addressed the intriguing connections between them, nor have they adequately acknowledged the extent and meaning of the savagery in the tale.
“The Borderline” holds nothing back in Lawrence’s fictionalized “payback” to his amorously entwined wife and friend. In the process of his attack he creates an eerie scenario that in only twenty pages cumulatively violates the long-established protocols of the ghost story, the literary conventions of space and time, the customary body positions of sexual intercourse, the recent proprieties of dream discourse, and the prevailing assumptions of pulmonary symptomology. In the end the story resonates as intimately biographical and compellingly elusive. My discussion employs the work of Freud, Frazer, and eighteenth century painting to suggest the daring and brilliant nature of Lawrence’s achievement in this short fiction. And it all began in London.
“The Absolute, the Relative and the Novel”
Since all human beings live between the absolute and the relative the question in relation to Lawrence is why it seemed so especially important to him. I believe that reflecting on this question throws light on how his realist imagination served a religious vision and a prophetic imperative. Although relativity was for him a defining feature of the novel form as such, his novels were powered by emotional and moral absolutism, as indeed are many of the great historical examples of the genre. In the end for Lawrence the novel form could not completely contain this internal tension but perhaps it is best not to see the question in terms of absolutism tempered by relativism as if in a polar or dialectical relationship between rival principles. These clumsy but necessary terms are rather a reflection at an abstract level of Lawrence’s elusive holism, his constant discrimination between what makes for life or death.
“‘With violent achings heaving to burst the sleep’: Lawrence, the North and London.”
Recent work on regional modernism, and on modernism and the postcolonial, must call any effort to reinscribe Lawrence in traditional accounts of modernism and the metropolis into doubt. Often in Lawrence’s writing about England London is placed in opposition to regional locations, where Lawrence seeks to redress the power relation that has long operated between London and the North of England. For all that Lawrence attacks the impact of industrialisation, it is not a factory town but London that Lawrence critiques most emphatically (an example is the arrival into London at the end of the ‘In the Train’ chapter of Women in Love). A focus here will be the poem ‘The North Country’, published in New Poems of 1916, which gestures towards a North awakening from the oppressive forces that hold and confine it; in his writing Lawrence suggests that these are at once economic, political and cultural.
“In and Out of London: Lawrence’s Nightmarish Experience”
In this paper I will look into the events which got Lawrence to dislike London through all his life. It was to Blanche Jennings that he wrote about his first impression of the city in a letter dated 1908. On informing her that he had just spent a week there, he wrote, ‘I felt remarkably at home in London, remarkably cheerful and delighted. […] London is restful, as quiescent as a dinner with J.P.’s,’ but this is one of the rarest positive responses to the Capital.
The worst years came when, Lawrence and Frieda returned there from Fiascherino to get married on 14 July 1914, but to their dismay they were not allowed to leave the country as they had planned. Thus started their in and out of London distressing experience which was aggravated by Lawrence’s antipathy towards the intelligentsia, especially the Bloomsbury Group. In 1915, a way out of that situation seemed J. D. Beresford’s offer of his house in Cornwall, which Lawrence saw as a new opportunity to start afresh, away from the social and intellectual pressure of the London area. First they settled in Porthcothan, and then Zennor, but the military authorities suspected the couple were German spies and expelled them from Cornwall. So, on 15 October 1917, the Lawrences quite surprisingly went back to London where they attended as reluctantly as ever the usual fashionable clicks. In fact, Lawrence quite happily moved to Nottinghamshire for about a year, just the time imposed on them before he and Frieda could leave the country. Lawrence took a ferry to France on 14 November 1919, and never lived in England (i.e. London) again except for some short visits between 1923 and 1926.
I will discuss his rejection of London’s intellectual circles, and what he disliked about Londoners in general in those nightmarish years by looking into his letters and poems such as ‘Town in 1917’, ‘The factory city’, ‘City-life’, parts of Aaron’s Rod, and the article “Dull London” (The Evening News, 3 Sep.1928). I will also compare his attitude to the city with T. S. Eliot’s and V. Woolf’s, and how he made a lasting impression on later authors by denouncing the worsening of issues like pollution, traffic, people’s loss of sensitivity, attachment to money, and the work entanglement which have become endemic problems in today’s London.
“DH Lawrence and Psychogeography”
“Comes over one an absolute necessity to move. And what is more, to move in some particular direction.” DH Lawrence, ‘As Far As Palermo’ in Sea and Sardinia
“My ambition is simpler: to find some excuse to wander London.” Iain Sinclair, ‘Is This London’ in Marc Atkins & Iain Sinclair, Liquid City
“Today’s walk is exemplary. We don’t know what we are looking for.” Iain Sinclair, ‘Sion Ants’ in Liquid City
This paper will develop ideas which I addressed in a paper at the DH Lawrence in Cornwall Conference in September 2016. There I argued that it was valid to read Lawrence’s writing on place as having distinct proto-psychogeographic characteristics.
Taking a slightly contrary approach from that, I will here seek to explore whether – despite identifiable areas of synthesis between Lawrence’s writing on place and that of contemporary psychogeographers – there are in fact key differences between them which may or may not reveal wholly or partially different objectives.
At the core of psychogeographical writing is a desire to explore place for its own sake. Sinclair and other psychogeographers consciously set out to wander, often with no other stated motive than to stumble hopefully upon random places and to uncover links between them.
By contrast, much of Lawrence’s writing on place derives from journeys he (or his characters, in the fictional pieces) had to make, or which he (or they) would have made anyway.
And yet Lawrence’s methods of describing place – utilising concepts such as sedimentation, ghostly residues, consciousness, nodality – and his identification (in the 1918-19 version of ‘The Spirit of Place’ chapter in Studies in Classic American Literature) of the notion that each race “drifts inevitably towards its own psychic geographical pole”, pre-figure contemporary psychogeographical writing in a number of remarkable ways.
I will elaborate, both in conceptual terms and through textual examples, on the similarities and the differences between Lawrence’s writing on place and contemporary psychogeography, and the ideas and objectives which underlie them.
And at the same time I will argue that the application of psychogeographic ideas to the study of Lawrence’s writing on place may enable us to reap new and unexpected rewards from his writing, and to re-position Lawrence studies within a vibrant and important strand in contemporary culture, to the benefit of both.
“‘It’s a bad place, but there is nowhere else’: Lawrence and the whirlpool of the Café Royal”
This quote from Women in Love (1920) points to Lawrence’s ambivalent relationship with the Café Royal in London, which he went on to viciously satirise in this novel. The Café Royal just wasn’t the sort of place where Lawrence felt comfortable; the contrived conversations bored him, the rowdy atmosphere dismayed him and he wanted no part of the coteries of artists and writers that gathered there. Yet he kept going back and it became a favourite haunt when he was in England.
Viewing the Café Royal, just before the First World War, as the still centre of a vortex of avant-garde ideas about art and literature, this paper will offer some explanation of why Lawrence was drawn to the place. It will suggest how the people and ideas that he encountered there, in particular Ezra Pound’s and Percy Wyndham Lewis’s thoughts about Vorticism (London Modernism), impacted on his thinking about Italian Futurism and influenced his novel Women in Love.
Whilst focussing on the summer of 1914 when Wyndham Lewis’ first edition of BLAST was published, this paper will begin by examining Lawrence’s claim of the Café Royal’s uniqueness by briefly tracing its history. It will go on to look in some detail at the people who habitually visited the place in the early twentieth century, in particular Wyndham Lewis, and consider the emerging idea of the artist as celebrity who needs to shape an identity in the public imagination. This, together with an exploration of Lawrence’s letters, will suggest the importance of his attendance at the Café Royal to the development of his thinking and the furtherance of his career.
However, this paper will also offer some evidence for Lawrence’s assessment of the Café Royal as a “bad place” by examining the drug and alcohol fuelled violence, pornography and prostitution associated with it. This darker side of the Café Royal was inherent from its beginnings and led to the lure of the place for people such as Aleister Crowley, regarded by some as the Magnus of the pre-war Café Royal. Looking at this will then help to explain Lawrence’s portrayal of nefarious aspects of this glamourous institution in his novel.
From all this, it will be suggested that whilst, for Lawrence, one powerful attraction of the Café Royal was the whirlpool of ideas that was discussed there about art and the place of art in modern society—a prevalent theme in Women in Love—there was much about the place he hated. The paper concludes by reviewing Lawrence’s keen interest in and reservations about Futurism, explains some contrasts between Futurism and Vorticism and suggests some links between Vorticism and the structure and content of Women in Love, all of which have connections to the Café Royal and reinforce a view of that place as the still centre of a vortex.
DE FILIPPIS, SIMONETTA
“Experimentalism and ideology in D. H. Lawrence’s theatre: the case of David”
This paper intends to consider Lawrence’s ideas about theatre, through his discussion of the theatre of his time and through his own theatre production; indeed, his plays present a wide range of dramatic models: from the “naturalism” of the “colliery plays”, to the “comedy of manners” of The Merry-Go-Round, The Married Man and The Fight for Barbara, to the expressionist elements traceable in Touch and Go, and the epic model of David.
Most of his plays were produced in London in the Sixties and Seventies; however, two plays were produced in London in the Twenties: The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd at the Kingsway Theatre, (12,13 and 19 December 1926; its première had taken place in Altrincham, 9-13 March 1920); and David, which had its première at the Regent Theatre (22-23 May 1927).
Lawrence was particularly keen on having David produced on stage (he wrote to Knopf: “I don’t want it published unless it is produced.”). The reviews, however, were not favourable and Lawrence, who was not present at the opening (he had remained in Italy), never discussed theatre thereafter.
Indeed, David, written in 1925, is a unique play in Lawrence’s dramatic production as to its formal dimension, both for its extended use of Biblical language, and for the dramatic structure and a number of theatrical devices which make it an experimental play, in many ways predating some of the most interesting theatrical solutions of the Brechtian expressionist/epic theatre.
The ideological dimension of this play will also be analysed as it is particularly relevant and revealing; indeed, David was written towards the end of those intense “ideological” years, the period of the so-called “leadership novels”, in which Lawrence had searched for alternative ways of life. Through the contact with the Amerindian cultures, he had come to consider ancient religions and civilisations as more authentic and vital compared to the western Christian ideological attitude, and much closer to his idea and ideal of blood consciousness. The choice of the story of David arises perhaps from his attempt to trace the roots of the malaise of modern society, an attempt which leads him to see in that biblical character the beginning of the darkness that had cancelled true feeling and true meaning in human life. The biblical story of Saul and David allows Lawrence to put on stage the universal theme of the mystery of divinity and of the relationship between man and the unknown through the clash between two religious conceptions, the primitive, blood religion of Saul and the pre-Christian, intellectual religion of David.
“Simultaneously everywhere and nowhere: Superseding London as centre of the publishing world”
Whatever one’s incoming trajectory at his writings, whatever one’s sense of possession of him, Lawrence remains a local, a national and most broadly a transnational presence. How to explain that transnational appeal? We can begin in the familiar way by pointing to Lawrence’s growing alienation from England during the wartime and immediate postwar years. As a writer he needed to find or create a readership that could, with him, see beyond the national to the broader predicament of western civilisation as he saw it. But that literary-biographical reason is not sufficient explanation for his ongoing transnational currency 87 years after his death.
An alternative approach of many of the contributors to that useful collection of 2000, D. H. Lawrence Across the World, edited by Takeo Iida, made it clear that Lawrence spoke, whether in English or in translation, to accustomed ways of thinking, anxieties, beliefs or pleasures of many national audiences. Each took possession of Lawrence, produced their own Lawrence in the act of reading, in their own nationally inflected ways.
But for these receptions to have happened, and to have been ongoing over decades, a publishing industry has had to be involved. The indispensible reason that Lawrence could remain a transnational presence, therefore, has been and is the vehicle of his textuality: the publishing industry.
After his death it was a series of London publishers: Secker in the 1930s, Heinemann in the 1940s and 50s, with licensed arrangements in the USA. Then Penguin most famously, especially following the Lady Chatterley trial in 1960. Penguin produced a cheaply accessible paperback Lawrence for worldwide markets, one who spoke to the concerns of the 1960s and who sold in very large numbers to a 1960s and 70s audience.
For our purposes as students and scholars of Lawrence’s writings, there has been, since then, the Cambridge Edition of his Works. Lawrence, you might say, left London at last. Its citation rule for books was: ‘London’ is the default location: there is no need to give it; the place of publication is to be given only if it is not London. But by halfway through the series in the 1990s the number of citations to other Cambridge volumes was outweighing citations of books published in London.
What kind of ‘Lawrence’ has been produced by this remarkable series? – because like any large-scale publishing project it has not left the writer where it found him. Accordingly, this paper will offer a discussion, first, of the evolving editorial approach of the series over time and what that process was responding to. Second and more broadly, it will analyse the contributions and the limitations for the study of Lawrence that it entailed. Finally, it looks forward to a future for editorial re-engagement of Lawrence in the digital environment, one that could feasibly produce yet another new Lawrence. That Lawrence would be not in Cambridge, or London, or New York. He would be simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.
“The Downfall of ‘world-cities’ in D. H. Lawrence and Oswald Spengler”
In The Decline of the West (1918-1922), Oswald Spengler exposes his theory of “world-history” and of the inevitable historical transition from a “Culture” to a “Civilization,” the last stage of organic development for every human society or “species,” using as his prime example the “Western Culture” of his day, which he opposes to other historical cultures such as the “Classical Culture” of Ancient Greece and Rome, and the Egyptian, Indian, Chinese and Mexican “Cultures.”
According to Spengler, one of the most significant mutations in this historical process is the appearance of “world-cities”, which concentrate human life, intellectual potential and political decisions, reducing all other towns and cities to the state of “province.” The “world-city” and the “province” are thus both products of “Civilization,” but while the former becomes the symbol of “Civilization,” of emancipation from old traditions and, ultimately, of rootlessness,” the “provincial” landscape embodies the remnants of “Culture,” with its traditions and intimate relationship to the soil.
Following this historical model, the rootless “world-city” inexorably moves towards self-destruction and the inorganic, whereas the rural landscape (now disregarded as the gradually depopulated “province”), out of which every “Culture” emerges, was shaped by the organic affinity between man and the soil. Such a conception of urban and rural spaces and development is strongly reminiscent of Lawrence’s descriptions of inorganic cities such as Mexico City in The Plumed Serpent or Ancient Rome in Sketches of Etruscan Places, and of his belief in the organic or “vital flow” which still exists between pre-civilized men and the natural world, but which modern Europeans or North-Americans have lost.
Spengler’s analysis therefore throws light on Lawrence’s problematic relationship to cities and particularly “world-cities”: as an intellectual himself, Lawrence gravitated towards such centres of cultural and political life, as do some of his characters in The Rainbow, Aaron’s Rod and The Lost Girl, who wish to escape what they perceive as the narrow spiritual space and restrictive traditions of rural places. Yet Lawrence also repeatedly denounced the inorganic aspect of cities, with their lifeless and indifferent city-dwellers, who threaten to congregate into the unthinking “mob” – a creation of the “world-city” in Spengler’s view – and the destructive mechanization of the urban landscape, while sometimes admiring the technical advances, urban atmosphere and social organisation he witnessed, particularly in non-European countries.
In addition, by deprecating the morally and physically decadent and inorganic quality of urban life, Lawrence participates in the historical process described by Spengler, that is to say, his writings precipitate or at least advocate the downfall of “world-cities” and Western “Civilization”, and call for a new beginning in rural areas and the reinstatement of a spiritual connexion to the land and of traditions arising from that connexion. The regeneration of Western societies he postulates is primarily set in rural landscapes and small towns in his novels, and the “organic” values and conception of life he propounds largely correspond to Spengler’s description of “Culture” – the ideal stage of development of human societies – which Lawrence associated most markedly with Etruscan “Culture”, in contrast to Roman “Civilization.”
“‘Doing my Part for Women’: D.H. Lawrence, Feminism, and Anti-Feminism”
My paper explores London’s influence on Lawrence in terms of the feminist and anti-feminist ideas of the Victorian and Edwardian periods and Lawrence’s varied reactions. To use W. H. Auden’s phrase, the Women’s Movement provided “a whole climate of opinion” for London in the Victorian, Edwardian, and later eras; fostered and swirling in London, that movement also provided a changing climate for Lawrence’s life and work. Early on, his mother’s participation in the Women’s Co-operative Guild in Eastwood acquainted Lawrence with the organization’s emphasis on women’s development and on education. In Lawrence’s teens, Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (1903). In December, 1912, Lawrence told Sallie Hopkin that he aimed in his writing to “do my work for women, better than the suffrage” (John Worthen, D. H. Lawrence: The Early Years 370). Evidence of his effort is well known: Clara Dawes in Sons and Lovers, who attends suffrage meetings, reflects Lawrence’s friendship with Alice Dax, who participated in the Workers Educational Association, among other causes. Further, Women in Love opens with proto-feminist Gudrun Brangwen debating the value of marriage; she later pursues life as an artist, departing from the traditional path for women. As a center of political action, London proved a source of more exposure to politically active women and their ideas. From his encounters with Alice Dax in London to his exposure to the effects of “little magazines” and other publications, to Connie Chatterley’s choices, Lawrence lived and worked aware of both feminist and anti-feminist ideologies. My paper locates his life and work within the context of the Women’s Movement in London from the late nineteenth century to the first third of the twentieth.
“London in the time of War (1914-1918): Re-reading D.H. Lawrence’s Letters”
D.H. Lawrence did not like cities in general whether it was London, New York or Paris. He believed that in the cities the weather was “always benzene, or else petrol fumes/lubricating oil, exhaust gas”, to quote a couple of lines from his poem titled “In the Cities”. Lawrence always preferred the countryside to a metropolis. His reference to London in his letters often verges on the negative. London is “all smoke”, he wrote to Arthur McLeod on 26 October, 1913. And around this time he wrote to Walter de la Mare, ”One breathes so much freer out of London”. A close reading of his letters reveals how his dislike of the city of London reached its peak during the First World War. The “pompous” and “magnificent” city of his youthful vision turned into “a hoary, ponderous inferno” as the war broke out. The “persistent nothingness” of the First World War made him “feel like a paralytic convulsed with rage”. He could not bear the sight of the Londoners. He wrote that it “strikes me into a dumb fury”. But he felt pity for them at times. They seemed to him “spectral” and “decayed” one night when he saw them in a tube. To Lady Ottoline Morrell he wrote, “London does strike a blow at the heart”.
By the word “Nation” Lawrence understood “a great architecture of living people”. He was, therefore, upset when he saw London emerge as a “ponderous incubus of falsehood”, and he wrote to Lady Cynthia Asquith on 16 August, 1915, “we must, with one accord and in purity of spirit, pull it down and build up a beautiful thing”. But he was terribly agonized when London and eastern counties were bombarded by zeppelin airships on 8 September 2015 killing a score of people. At that point of time Lawrence was at Hampstead. We see him write to Lady Ottoline Morrell on 9 September, “So it seems our cosmos is burst, burst at last, the stars and moon blown away”. His letter dated 15 September again refers to zeppelin but this time the tone is austere: “I knew by the spirit of London – game for fight, all consideration gone”. Lawrence, however, never believed in the spirit of war. War was a “colossal idiocy” to him. So the despairing tone (“God knows now what the end will be”) soon yields to an articulation of courage and confidence: “One must speak for life and growth, amid all this mass of destruction and disintegration”.
The present paper basically attempts to explore Lawrence’s responses to London during the First World War as reflected in his letters and in the course of discussion it also seeks to bring home Lawrence’s attitude to war in general.
“‘A savage wilderness in the heart of London’: Gardens and the Organic in Aaron’s Rod”
Because Aaron’s Rod is so dramatically a conversational novel and so exclusively an urban novel, split between London and then Italian cities, it would not seem an obvious choice for an ecocritical reading. Critics from F.R. Leavis (1955: 32) to Fiona Becket (2002: 66) have read its ‘experimental’ or ‘challenging’ exploration of selfhood as, in Lawrence’s own words, ‘the end of The Rainbow, Women in Love line’ (AR vviv) of novels concerned with modes of marriage. Whilst this is undeniably the thematic case, and the ‘tentative’ (Leavis: 32) form of exploration is the structural case, the few details of organic imagery are remarkably consistent in defining, symbolising or offering a more indefinable affect to certain moments of epiphany concerning possible conceptions of selfhood. In the first part of the novel these are moments of apprehension associated with gardens, from Aaron’s own garden in which he experiences the mixture of emotions in standing in separation from his home, his family, his bitter wife and his ambivalent marriage, to the garden of Bloomsbury Square – ‘a savage wilderness in the heart of London’ – where ‘huddled against the big tree-trunk’ (69) Aaron is seduced by Josephine, to the flowers of Covent Garden, to the garden of the house in Novara which is another escape for Aaron from bourgeois society.
From these starting points there recur experiences of flowers and trees in Italy which solidify into significant symbols in the artistic exploration of the novel’s themes, one of which finds its enigmatic expression in Aaron’s increasingly repeated cry of ‘It isn’t my nature’. Thus the puzzle of Aaron’s inner nature is linked to his affinity with the wild, the individuation, the resilience, the life-in-decay of outer nature. After all, even ‘Florence, the flowery town […] flowers with good roots in the mud and muck’ (232). And, as always in Lawrence’s perception of people embedded in place, as with the environment, so with the people: ‘here men for a moment were themselves, as a plant in flower is for the moment completely itself’ (ibid.) Whilst Lilly’s image for Women in Love’s ‘star polarity’ – two eagles in mid-air, each single but grappling in ‘love consummation’ (167) – is actually taken from a poem by Walt Whitman, that is from culture rather than nature, the final image of Aaron’s rod rejuvenating in blossom is prepared by earlier experiences of real blossoms, and Lilly’s final image of the Tree of Life has been preceded by Aaron’s sense of Tuscan cypresses ‘like so many high visitants from an old, lost, subtle world, where men had the wonder of demons about them’ (265).
This paper will weave all these connections into an argument for the place of Aaron’s Rod in a consideration of Lawrence’s insights into the tensions of the savage wilderness at the heart of the city, of the wild inner nature of the individual in relation to the Other, and of the potential flowering out of dissolution, despair and alienation.
“‘A fresh green poet’: ‘Rachel Annand Taylor’ (1910)”
- H. Lawrence first met the Scottish poet Rachel Annand Taylor (1876-1960) in 1910 (probably on 10 March), at a gathering of poets at the home of Ernest and Grace Rhys in Hampstead. Lawrence had read three of Taylor’s poems in the October 1909 number of Ford Madox Hueffer’s English Review and thought them ‘exceedingly good’ (i, 144). He read her latest collection, The Hours of Fiammetta: a sonnet sequence in September 1910, the same month in which it was published. Shortly afterwards, Lawrence wrote to Taylor telling her that he had been invited to speak at the Croydon branch of the English Association, and had chosen to give a paper on her. Lawrence delivered the paper on 17 November; he reported to Taylor that he found the occasion ‘most exciting. I worked my audience up to red heat – and I laughed’ (i, 191).
This paper will consider what it was that attracted Lawrence to Taylor’s poetry at this time, and why he selected her as the subject of his talk. Offering a reading of ‘Rachel Annand Taylor’, the paper will explore Lawrence’s attitude towards the ties of literary commerce. Lawrence perceived the importance of engaging with an audience, and in ‘Rachel Annand Taylor’ Lawrence portrayed his subject in a way that was calculated to shock the refined sensibilities of his Croydon audience. The paper will argue that, as early as 1910, Lawrence understood the necessity for poets to fashion a marketable identity which would help their work to be sold under appropriate publishing imprints and advertised in the all-important press. Lawrence began writing in the wake of the transformation of the notion of the author: by the turn of the century, the name and identity of the author had become the primary marketing strategy of publishers, editors and journalists, so that both the author and the texts which they produced were commodities to be circulated and consumed.
Lawrence’s awareness of these developments is evident in the way he discusses Taylor; his paper offers us an insight into his canny responsiveness to the complex mechanisms of the Edwardian literary marketplace at such an early stage in his writing career. Overall, in concentrating on ‘Rachel Annand Taylor’, my paper assesses an aspect of Lawrence’s oeuvre which has been critically neglected and undervalued, but which tells us a great deal about how Lawrence went about finding models for how to fashion a poetic identity and forge a sustainable writing career.
GUNARSDÓTTIR CHAMPION, MARGRÉT
“‘Flesh of my flesh’: City Affect and Spirit of Place in D H Lawrence’s Women in Love”
Less celebratory about modern city life than Joyce and Woolf, Lawrence’s fiction nonetheless often posits metropolis as a determining influence upon the individual psyche and social relations. In Women in Love in particular a metropolitan awareness rather than the city of London itself impinges upon the major protagonists’ perceptions, self-consciousness and interactions. In fact, the novel’s rural settings in the English Midlands starkly foreground the problematics of what George Simmel calls “the objective culture” of urban realities, delineating both its cosmopolitan potential and the attendant risk of “the atrophy of individual culture” (“The Metropolis and Mental Life” (1903)). According to Simmel, the excessive stimulations of the city foster a “blasé attitude,” a trained impersonal response to the environment, a kind of economic psychology, adapted to the exchange value of the market place. At the same time, the limitations thus imposed upon individuals’ emotional ties and expressions strangely precipitate the difficult freedoms associated with modernity – freedom of intellect, of choice, of movement, of the widening circle of community. Even if such freedom may be without emotional comfort, it is challenging and progressive, amenable to positive change and ethical outlooks. There is thus a dialectic rhythm at the heart of the city, a vibrating tension between the affective life and the metropolitan real. Women in Love is attuned to this rhythm, defamiliarizing it within contexts of alternative small communities and within a variety of scenes from the natural world.
My paper will trace the centrifugal and centripetal fluctuations of Women in Love from the perspective of affect theory, drawing on Brian Massumi’s (Parables for the Virtual (2002)) and Ben Anderson’s (“Becoming and being hopeful: towards a theory of affect” (2006)) understanding of affect as the mobility of emotion, as an immanent quality of embodied creatures, activated only in the encounter. As opposed to the emphasis in cultural theory on the mediated discursive body, affect studies probe emergent sensations in interactive situations. In Massumi’s work, for instance, fluid conceptions of “movement as qualitative transformation” replace the older models of subjective positionality (2002). Through affect, bodies can be grasped as navigating city space, registering stimuli and in turn triggering events which modulate sensations, perceptions, thinking and doing.
Within a variety of transformative encounters, Women in Love dramatizes the affective registers of the metropolitan mentality, trapped, as Rupert Birkin claims, in “conceit,” in “our own papier-maché realized selves.” Of particular significance in the novel are scenes within natural habitats which through interplay of affect – anger, fear, disgust, shame, joy and sadness – stimulate an alternative ecological awareness, a folding into the sublime, danger, risk, violence and the animal. Lawrence’s novel designs sensuous geographies that assimilate, challenge and transform conventional borders between urban spectacles and life in nature.
“D. H. Lawrence, the Buckinghamshire period, and Gilbert Cannan’s Windmills (1915)”
In mid-August 1914, at the instigation of Gilbert and Mary Cannan, D. H. Lawrence and his new wife Frieda went to live in a cottage in Bellingdon, near Chesham, Buckinghamshire, approximately 30 miles north-west of London. The Cannans lived nearby in Cholesbury, and in late October John Middleton Murry and Katherine Mansfield moved into a cottage a short distance away near Great Missenden. Through the Cannans Lawrence met Compton Mackenzie, Martin Secker and Mark Gertler; their shared friends Gordon Campbell and S. S. Koteliansky visited for Christmas festivities. From mid-October 1914 until 21 January 1915 (when the Lawrences moved to Greatham, Pulborough, Sussex) the Lawrences, Cannans and Murrys enjoyed a close companionship which compensated them in some small way for the bitterness of the first months of the war, and for the very different upheavals they were experiencing in their private and professional lives. The period is perhaps best known for Lawrence’s ‘Rananim’ scheme, which he conceived over Christmas 1914 as a way of bonding with his friends in shared opposition to wartime England. However, evidence in the biographical record (and in newly-edited sources such as The Diaries of Katherine Mansfield) reveals the extent of the social interactions, collaboration and professional support which members of the group offered one another. This paper will discuss the nature of the small community they established in Buckinghamshire before considering the evidence for mutual influence provided by Gilbert Cannan’s little-known volume of fables entitled Windmills, which he was working on during these months and which he published in April 1915 with a dedication ‘To D. H. Lawrence’.
“The Community of the Nameless on Hospitality to Others: D. H. Lawrence’s Response to his Conception of City in ‘The Woman Who Rode Away,’ ‘The Man Who Loved Islands,’ and The Man Who Died”
This paper aims to explore the question of hospitality in D. H. Lawrence’s three stories—“The Woman Who Rode Away,” “The Man Who Loved Islands,” and The Man Who Died—as a D. H. Lawrence’s response to his conception of city in general. In his poem “City-Life,” Lawrence uses metaphors of “some malignant fisherman” and “hooked fish” to express a power relationship of exploitation between capitals and labors in what he calls “the factory world.” For Lawrence, the “city” is a place of this asymmetrical relationship, in which those who hold power take control over those who do not have in a one-sided way. The three stories in Lawrence’s later career are a series of key works against his conception of city in that they open up a possibility of alternative relationship between individuals. Using the relative pronoun form in their titles, the three works depict a common event: each central character loses his or her own name. At first glimpse, it may seem to be a negative condition, in which they are exiled from the community they are supposed to belong to. What characterizes the three works, however, is that this negative condition of the loss of the name can be read in a different way: in exchange for their names the central characters transform into figures that embody an absolute hospitality (a key idea that a French philosopher Jacques Derrida highlights in his reading of Lawrence’s poem “Snake”). Far from taking control over other people, they show a radical attitude of welcoming the other beyond the boundaries of the self. In “The Woman Who Rode Away,” a woman from Berkley receives what the Chilchuis, a tribe of Native Americans, demands her to the extent that she offers herself up as a sacrifice to their gods. In “The Man Who Loved Islands,” a man who loves islands gives up his attempt to make a comprehensible list for the names of animals and plants on his islands, seeing things beyond his capacity of perception. In The Man Who Died, a man, who had been Jesus Christ before he woke up from his death, accepts a false identification of the man with an Egyptian god Osiris. All these nameless figures, showing an absolute hospitality that puts the priority on the other over the self, radically call into question the asymmetrical relationship of city Lawrence expresses in the poem “City-Life.” As a response to his conception of city, the three works reveal a possibility of the community of the nameless on hospitality to others.
“Parallel Development of Bestwood and the Morels: Sociology in Sons and Lovers”
‘Sociology’ at the turn of the century was used to refer to the newly emergent academic field that attempted to discover the laws of social development. Under the influence of Social Darwinism, D. H. Lawrence attempted to elaborate his own ‘sociology’ in Sons and Lovers, in which he depicted how a pre-modern community had developed into a town.
It is a well-known fact that young Lawrence immersed himself in Herbert Spencer’s works. Some critics have already suggested the influence of Spencer’s evolutionary theory upon the novel, such as its terminology including ‘protoplasm’ and ‘phosphorescence’, as well as some characters’ behaviours or remarks. However, how did this theory influence Sons and Lovers’ grand design?
In ‘The Social Organism’, Spencer proposes a theory of parallel development of social bodies and living bodies from the simplest forms to complex ones. Lawrence elaborated on this social evolutionary theory, together with Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy on sexual love, in his own ‘sociology’, in which he depicted the parallel development of the urbanization of a primitive village into a modern city and the Morels’ genealogical transition.
“‘a strange new response’: art and life during wartime in the Mecklenburgh Square days”
Shortly after their eviction from Cornwall in October 1917, Lawrence and Frieda were given temporary sanctuary in London by the American-born poet, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), in her first floor drawing room-cum-bedsit at 44 Mecklenburgh Square. The Lawrences would remain there until the end of November, forming, with H.D., what she describes in Bid Me to Live, her roman à clef of the period, as “a perfect triangle.” Other triangles would form and break apart in “the Mecklenburgh Square days” (L iii.728): between H.D., her then husband Richard Aldington, and Dorothy (“Arabella”) Yorke; between H.D., Aldington, and the composer Cecil Gray, who had been a neighbour of the Lawrences in Cornwall and would father H.D.s daughter, Perdita; and between Lawrence, Frieda, and Gray. All these people appear in fictionalised form in Aaron’s Rod, a novel begun in the Mecklenburgh Square days which, in Mark Kinkead-Weekes’ judgment, registers Lawrence’s “impatience with heterosexual jealousies and intensities” (D.H. Lawrence: Triumph to Exile, 457). But if Aaron’s Rod signals a turn to the male relationships which dominate the “Leadership” novels—relationships of the order that Lawrence had begun to explore in the war years, in Women in Love and Studies in Classic American Literature—it also forms a fascinating counterpart to H.D.’s Bid Me to Live. These texts are, like Lawrence’s and H.D.’s fictional surrogates in H.D.’s book (who are, in turn, avatars of Pluto and Persephone), “equal […] in intensity, matched, mated.” However fraught, the Mecklenburgh Square days provided a vital alternative to what Lawrence, in a January 1917 letter to Edward Marsh, called “the existing state of squilch” (L iii.76): writing to Gray from Mecklenburgh Square in October of that year, Lawrence tells him that he prefers his metropolitan location to Cornwall—“One seems to be, in some queer way, vitally active here. And then people, one or two, seem to give a strange new response” (L iii.174). This paper explores that “response” by tracing reciprocities between Lawrence’s writing and that of H.D.: in Bid Me to Live and Aaron’s Rod, and in H.D. and Lawrence’s shared “interest in the Orpheus legend,” iterations of which recur in the poetry and fiction of both in the war years and beyond (Paul Delany D.H. Lawrence’s Nightmare, 333). Notwithstanding Lawrence’s insistence that London’s “intense powerful nodality” as the “great heart of the world” had broken “during the war,” Mecklenburgh Square, at least, was a generative intertextual nexus, a vortex through which, during wartime and into the post-war period, life would be translated into art (Mornings in Mexico, 125).
JOBSON DARROCH, SANDRA
“‘44 Bedford Square and D.H. Lawrence’ by Sandra Jobson Darroch, the first biographer of Lady Ottoline Morrell.”
NUMBER 44 BEDFORD SQUARE, the London residence of Lady Ottoline Morrell, was for Lawrence a pivotal entry point to London’s literary milieu.
There, Lady Ottoline Morrell held her Thursday salons, opening her door to the writers, artists and poets of pre-First World War 1 London.
“View them from the top of your stairs, dear lady, but don’t go down among them,” Henry James warned Ottoline when she first embarked on her salons.
But go down among the “bohemians”, she did, and 44 Bedford Square became an entrepot of artistic talent and literary innovation.
There, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell mingled with Mark Gertler, Roger Fry, Aldous Huxley and Maynard Keynes. Bertrand Russell talked with TS Eliot and David Garnett, and there Nijinsky played tennis with Lytton Strachey in the Bedford Square garden. It was an exciting, heady whirl of people and ideas, a maypole of the best and the brightest, turning around the central figure of Lady Ottoline. As Virginia Woolf recalled: “& there used to be a great lady in Bedford Square who managed to make life seem a little amusing & interesting & adventurous, so I used to think when I was young & wore a blue dress & Ottoline was like a Spanish galleon, hung with golden coins, & lovely silken sails.”
This was the milieu that Lawrence entered when he was introduced to Ottoline by Gilbert Cannan in late 1914. Lawrence was virtually unknown at that time, but Ottoline had read The White Peacock and Sons and Lovers and what he wrote struck a chord with her own experience of Nottinghamshire despite the fact that unlike Lawrence, she had grown up in the aristocratic surroundings of her ancestral home there, Welbeck Abbey. She also sensed Lawrence’s great literary potential and felt she had at last found the intuitive mind she had long searched for. A strong friendship developed between them, with some misgivings on the part of Frieda. Ottoline introduced Lawrence to her lover, Bertrand Russell, and after she and her husband, Philip, moved to Garsington Manor outside Oxford, Lawrence was a regular guest. He was subsequently to portray her, to her horror, as Hermione Roddice in Women in Love and their friendship cooled. Nevertheless, Ottoline staunchly supported him over the trial of his paintings at the Dorothy Warren gallery, and Lawrence was one of the few young writers Ottoline had supported financially who repaid the money she had lent him.
I am currently updating and reappraising my original biography of Ottoline: the Life of Lady Ottoline Morrell, first published by Chatto & Windus in the UK in 1975 and Coward McCann & Geoghegan in the USA) and am planning a new Introduction to it, recounting my meetings and friendship with David Garnett and Duncan Grant, Lady Pansy Lamb (widow of Henry Lamb), surviving members of the inner circle of the Bloomsbury Group, and others who were there in those heady days when Lawrence first entered the door of 44 Bedford Square.
I will discuss the role of the biographer and how I went about writing my book and I shall also recount such other memorable events as being stalked by the Seventh Duke of Portland when I visited Welbeck Abbey, and my meetings with Dr Warren Roberts, the head of the Humanities Research Centre in Austin Texas, when I and my husband, Robert, (who was helping me) were going through the library’s collection of 8,500 letters in Ottoline’s correspondence. This was when Dr Roberts first suggested to Robert that perhaps D.H. Lawrence’s time in Australia might be a fruitful subject to look into when he returned to Australia.
“From Metropole to Periphery: The Self-Reflective Journey of Lawrence, the Author”
While the bildungsroman is usually seen as a coming-of-age story or novel, associated with a very young man or woman’s coming into self- knowledge, I here (re)define it to include the story of D.H. Lawrence, the author, as told by him, in and through his writings. I posit that Lawrence’s growth into himself, occurs not as a young man in the mid-lands, as in the actual bildungsroman novel, Sons and Lovers, but in the landscape of New Mexico and Mexico. Tracing Lawrence’s journey away from the “metropole,” England and its center, London, to the far-flung periphery of New Mexico, tells the story of D.H. Lawrence creating a sense of belonging as a “transnational subject.”
Martin Swales describes the bildungsroman as “a highly self-reflective novel, one in which the problem of the bildung of personal growth is enacted in the narrator’s discursive self-understanding.” It is in how Lawrence narrates his own journey towards self-understanding, through various novels and other writings that we can see how this “lone, lorn, Englishman,” “finds” himself away from England and its metropole. While his “grand tour” of many travels, is not one of fancy steamer trunks and Limoges, it is one of constant self-awareness as he interacts with culture upon culture, and absorbs from them.
The opposition of London versus the periphery begins in Sons and Lovers, in Lawrence’s portrayal of William’s girlfriend Lilly. From there on we see Lawrence’s arched perspective on London, repeatedly through his novels and his letters. For instance, in Women in Love (Ch.5) he writes “Art—music—London Bohemia—the most pettifogging calculating Bohemia that ever reckoned its pennies.” In Lorenzo in Taos, Mabel Dodge Luhan tells us that this is what he was afraid of encountering in the “artsy” community in Taos. He moves even further away to the Kiowa ranch and out to the furthest periphery in Mexico. In The Plumed Serpent his ruminations on the indigenous peoples show how far away he wants to go from anything London in search of knowing and developing a “sense of self,” not only for himself, but in an attempt to create a new religion.
This paper will explore how through juxtaposition and opposition, Lawrence finds himself and is at home with himself in his connections to indigeneity, and indigenous peoples, while at the same time that he may seem scornful of them. Connecting with the indigenous is a repeated refrain or theme. It seems that Lawrence keeps searching for the “tuatha de dannan,” the connection to indigenous gods whether in Cornwall or through Kate in The Plumed Serpent. And yet as Ross Parmenter shows so aptly in his book Lawrence in Oxaca, Lawrence also seems to be holding on to a sense of Englishness, rather tenuously. In this, Lawrence is crafting a new transnational hybrid self, while creating “inter-cultural” works, and himself undergoing a transcultural process of rejecting the metropole.
“The Shadow Knows: Lawrence, Joyce, and the Limitations of Modernist Empathy”
This paper explores D.H. Lawrence’s “The Shadow in the Rose Garden” (1914) in tandem with James Joyce’s “The Dead” (1914) in order to explore what the implications of such a comparison are for these writers’ work as well as for the modernist conceptions of subjectivity and empathetic relations. T.S. Eliot seems to have been the first critic to discuss the stories together, referencing them in After Strange Gods (1934), along with Katherine Mansfield’s story “Bliss,” as stories of “disillusion.” One of Lawrence’s biographers, Brendan Maddox, has gone so far as to suggest that the striking affinities between the two stories, published the same year, might have arisen because Lawrence could have read “The Dead” given that the manuscript of Dubliners (1914) had circulated widely in London’s close-knit publishing coteries for more than a decade, having been rejected by numerous publishers. Yet outside of Maddox’s account and Hidenaga Arai’s Lacanian reading of the two tales, there have been no extended considerations of “The Dead” and “The Shadow in the Rose Garden” in conjunction with each other. Furthermore, in her attempt at arguing that Lawrence was consciously and directly responding to Joyce’s story, Maddox stresses the correlations between the two works, a move duplicated in Arai’s reading, which views both Joyce and Lawrence as similarly examining the uncanny that lies below the surface of reality, what Lacan and Slavoj Zizek’s both discuss in terms of an encounter with the Real.
Whether or not Maddox’s theory is correct, the two tales merit analysis as fictional works engaged in similar problems. I argue that understanding the two tales as entwined entities allows for an unusual opportunity to consider two markedly opposed modernist comprehension of the porousness of human subjectivity and the potential for–or desirability of–empathy. My paper suggests that Eliot shrewdly appreciated the fundamental disjunction in the two tales when he observed that Lawrence’s story to be an “almost perfect example of the heretic” while Joyce’s story was the “most ethically orthodox.” There are other crucial differences. That the two writers were famously critical of each other’s fiction has long been established (Joyce judged Lawrence a poor writer and Lawrence decried Ulysses–which he failed to finish–as “too mental.”) Both “The Dead” and “The Shadow in the Rose Garden” dilate on the thematics of marital instability as determined by past loves. For both Lawrence and Joyce, such a crisis signals a fulcrum in consciousness of the interior lives of others. Yet, in addition to stressing the woman’s perspective, Lawrence declines to see marital discord as surmountable through an empathetic identification with another. My reading sees the bitter denouement of “The Shadow in the Rose Garden” as fundamentally in opposition to the epiphanic climax of Joyce’s tale. While Joyce accentuates resolution in Gabriel’s new, expanded understanding of Greta’s past love and inner life, Lawrence represents marriage as a battle of differing subjectivities in which empathetic identification is subsidiary, untenable, or impossible. Significantly, both writers were working at a time when subjectivity was a salient issue among modern writers and the idea of empathy as a psychological category was relatively new, having migrated from aesthetics. The word first appeared in English in 1909, having been translated by Edward Bradford Titchener from the German Einfuhlung.) Yet Freud was largely uninterested in the role of empathy. Lawrence, like Freud, views with skepticism this new stress on empathetic identification. (That skepticism is evident elsewhere in Lawrence’s fiction—for example, in “The Blind Man” , where Maurice Pervin’s climactic attempt at—or wily simulation of–empathetic feeling with his wife’s male friend ends lamentably.) From its premise that Joyce and Lawrence’s stories are thematically linked but radically opposed in philosophical terms, my paper explores how both writers diverge on the entwined problem of modern subjectivity and empathy.
“Driven into the womanly valley: the barmaid, the vicar’s daughter and the genesis of Lady C.”
Looking back on the frenetic hormonal activity of his Croydon years, and totalling his former mistresses as ‘seven’, Lawrence, in Don Juan (1912) described himself as having been driven: ‘What of the mistresses What the beloved seven? They were but witnesses, I was just driven.’ It was partly living in lodgings away from his family that drove him out into the streets. ‘I am in digs’ he protested, ‘I can’t hang about the house as if I were at home.’ It was also his innate appreciation of the natural world that compelled him to explore the ‘exceedingly beautiful’ Surrey countryside, but by far the most pressing drive at that time was hormonal. The young man, primed for mating, was driven to seeking a mate. The botanical interests of the adolescent rambler had been overtaken by biological concerns and the desire now was to ‘lie in the womanly valley’. Enflamed by Greiffenhagen’s Idyll, excited by close encounters with the sensuous Helen, who was too keenly conscious of her own procreative nature to be compliant, Lawrence, drunk or sober, was driven by irresistible forces. They disturbed his nights and distracted his days and found expression in poems in praise of his penis. The ‘column of fire by night’, the ‘lustrous one’ seemed to have a mind of its own. ‘Is he calling, the lone one? Is his deep Silence full of summons?’ As this call went out, so too did Lawrence, out into the night air, beneath the street lamps, into the pubs, across the Downs. But some of the lone excursions indicated in the letters were not as solitary as supposed. When Garnett offered to pick Lawrence up from Oxted station, Lawrence’s response, ‘Do not trouble to meet me at all – I shall like the walk’ gave no hint of the Don Juanish opportunities Lawrence anticipated in this hour long ramble over Limpsfield Common to the Cearne. Garnett eventually discovered his secret, however, as he later recounted to Mollie Skinner: Lawrence ‘played havoc with the girls in the village.’ There is still some uncertainty over the identity of a couple of the seven mistresses, but release of the 1911 census data has allowed new access to several of the peripheral women in Lawrence’s life, from the Croydon barmaid and the Limpsfield vicar’s daughter to a possible early model for the fräulein in ‘Love Among the Haystacks’. Intimations of the genesis of Lady C. have also come to light.
“What about the East End?”
This paper considers the fact that Lawrence, while teaching in Croydon, if we are to judge from the many letters he wrote while living there, visited many places within the Metropolis but never seems to have set foot in the East End of London. His not having done so is surprising, not so much that as a writer from a working-class background he might have wished to put his own upbringing in the wider context of working-class life, but that, while living in Croydon, he had read the stories of Wapping-born W.W. Jacobs, which, for all their frivolity and farce, nonetheless portray an area bursting with the intensity of the lives of people who lived and loved, worked and drank, embarked in and disembarked from all sorts of ships and boats alongside and near the waterfront section of the East End.
The East End will be introduced by quotations from two of its most prominent writers, Israel Zangwill (on the Jewish Ghetto) and H.M. Tomlinson (on the riverside parish of Poplar). The remainder of the first half of the paper will focus on aspects of the East End at the time that might have been of interest to Lawrence, had he been acquainted with them (a concentration of immigrants, the university settlement movement, in particular Toynbee Hall, militant trade unionism among riverside workers, Jewish radicals and anarchists and the Yiddish Theatre.
The second half of the paper will speculate on the extent, if any, that Lawrence’s writing might have benefitted from engagement, at however basic a level, with some or all of the aspects of East End life identified above, A familiarity with the experiences of immigrants in the East End, for example, might have helped him understand better the experiences of men he met by Lake Garda and wrote about in Twilight in Italy, men like Paolo Capelli, Faustino Magri and ‘John’ who had all been immigrants in America. To have given ear to the experiences of Jewish immigrants in the East End, many of whom had fled from the horrors of pogroms in Eastern and Central Europe, might have prompted him to modify his view propounded in ‘The spirit of place’ that immigrants had come to America ‘to get away from everything they were and had been “Henceforth to be masterless”’. Many East End Jewish immigrants, some of whom were to proceed to America in due course, had fled from their homes not so much to be ‘masterless’, but simply, in the face of persecution, to survive.
“Lawrence’s possible encounter with different mystical and semi-mystical ideas popular in his time”
It is far easier to highlight mystical elements in D. H. Lawrence’s work than pinpoint a particular influence of any mystical tradition in his writings. This is partly due to the vagueness of his mystical purpose and poetic expression and partly due to the manner in which Lawrence takes ideas from different sources and places them in his exclusive framework of ideas. Mystical elements, such as those mentioned by Frederick Carter – the search for his primordial ‘self’ wherever he went, ‘the great urgency’ (Carter, 1932, p. 3) and search for an intimate relationship with the universal through the particular – this quest of a mystical kind is a progressive theme in Lawrence’s fiction. He shows a vague allegiance to the mystical spirit of his age which included Sufi poetic traditions among many esoteric ideas and practices popular in some circles. My purpose in this paper is to highlight the presence of some of these esoteric notions in Lawrence’s time and particularly the presence of Sufi mysticism through Sufi poetic traditions. Lawrence’s frequent departures from such categories of English fiction as one can found in other novelists of his age shows a level of attraction to some sort of mystical ideas in Lawrence. In this paper I will explore the presence of Sufi literature in Lawrence’s immediate context and ask if there was any reason to believe if Lawrence was attracted to Sufi ideals of mystical nature.
“Figuring the Affective: Lawrence, Spinoza, and the Idea of the Novel”
My presentation explores the extent to which Lawrence’s idea of life and the novel, revolving around the notion of feeling, resonates with Baruch Spinoza’s thoughts on the body, affects, desire, power, and expression. This comparison will hopefully shed light on the singularity of Lawrence’s novelistic aesthetics among other aesthetics of affects, including Sentimentalism and Modernism.
The recent affective turn in a variety of disciplines is a belated endorsement of Spinoza’s assertion of the centrality of affects in individual subjectivities and social forms. For Spinoza, affects register changes in conatus, or the striving of a thing to persevere in being. As such, affects are passages or transitions defining the very being of the thing. With Spinoza, an affective being thus becomes a paradigmatic form of subjectivity, one that is liberated once and for all from theological and other kinds of teleology and caught instead in the indefinite process of mutual determination between finite bodies, which are so many modes of the one Substance (or Totality). The idea of immanence and relativity suggested here constitutes the basis on which the novel as a modern genre has flourished, while Spinoza’s anti-Cartesian focus on the body and its power of acting seems to have relevance for a more specific sort of novelistic aesthetics.
It is intriguing to find, despite Lawrence’s rare and negative mention of Spinoza, that the two in fact share a wide range of thoughts, not least the belief that desire cannot be curbed except by another, more powerful desire. Desire, for both of them, is the power of acting, and “man’s very essence” (Spinoza). Lawrence considers desire and affect as a condition of possibility as well as the main effect of novelistic discourse, both desire and the novel having a certain ontological significance. It is not just that the novel represents our desires and affects. The novel presents or produces desires and affects in a way that changes our sense of reality (and of totality), making us feel as if they had been with us all along. In this sense, the novel “expresses” being and power in the strictly Spinozist sense. In elucidating Lawrence’s aesthetic expressivism, I will discuss his essays along with some scenes from his novels, particularly Women in Love.
“Figuring Mobility in D. H. Lawrence’s City Poems”
From 1916 to 1918, while Lawrence could not leave England during World War I, he mined two of his college notebooks as well as more recently composed manuscripts for new books of verse. Four books emerged from these difficult years: his elegiac sequence, Amores; the book inspired by Frieda, Look! We Have Come Through!; the inaccurately named New Poems, whose American edition contained his important essay, “Poetry of the Present”; and his war verse, Bay. These years thus mark a pivotal development in his poetics. For reasons not well understood, he contemplated, then decided against, writing a sequence of town and city poems. But it is productive to reconsider that proto-sequence in relation to the conference theme of Lawrence’s urbanity. In this paper, I pose the question more specifically of how Lawrence represents mobility and suggest that Lawrence’s tendency, as Diane S. Bonds argued, to use the same language in opposite ways in his “struggle for verbal consciousness” is evident not only in the novels that Bonds analyzes, but also in the city verse during this phase of Lawrence’s career. Motion may be desirable or perverse, regardless of whether it is conveyed by modern industrial inventions or by water, air, fire, and living creatures. Although motion is often valued over stasis in Amores, for example, these values are also reversed and, in New Poems, oscillate seemingly randomly, until in Bay they merge oxymoronically. (Look! We Have Come Through! proves something of an exception since its imagery is drawn almost entirely from nature, and in one poem near the end, the speaker rejects not only urban life but everything associated with his former life.) By focusing on mobility and its opposites in the city and town poems of the first world war, this paper argues that the oft-noted Lawrentian binary between the mechanical and the organic operates in a complex and dynamic manner in this poetry, not settling into simple polarity.
“‘Hope I get Croydon’ – was D H Lawrence rather more attracted to London than is generally portrayed?”
The above quotation is from a letter Lawrence wrote to Louie Burrows, tentatively dated 25th September 1908 (L1 77). The countryside around Eastwood was for Lawrence the ‘country of my heart’ and it is reasonable to expect that he would not enjoy London. During his life of travel around the world he generally avoided living in any metropolis. However, his feelings about London were more mixed than is generally perceived and the research for this paper will review his more positive thinking about it. Specifically, in his overseas travel we know that Lawrence used travel guides, and I will review how Lawrence’s visits in London compared to what a London travel guide of the time recommended, and his response. Furthermore, London was and is the publishing capital of the world and I will transcribe Lawrence’s address book to analyse just how many connections with London Lawrence had.
“Early Translations of D. H. Lawrence in a Nordic Context”
The reception of D. H. Lawrence in the Nordic countries gained considerable momentum in the years following the First World War. In 1937, for example, The Daughter-in-Law was produced on stage in Stockholm at Blanche Theater, and was the most successful theatrical event of the year. At that time, Lawrence maintained a reputation as one of the most progressive European writers, and his works, many of which had been translated into the Nordic languages, were widely read. The intelligentsia in the Nordic countries took Lawrence to heart because they could see in his oeuvre that he had a keen understanding of the working classes, their social environments, and the challenges they faced because of the effects of industrialization. The manner in which industrialization challenged the social structures which had been established in agrarian society was a central concern in the Nordic countries at that time, and coincided with the rise of Social Democracy. Here, working-class intellectual properties were given special attention, and in Sweden, with the rise of the “Fem Unga,” a movement for literary modernism, the groundwork was laid for appreciation of proletarian writers from abroad who focused on the plight of people challenged by the changes which were taking place as European society went from being primarily agrarian, to one which was urban and industrial. In Sweden, Artur Lungkvist, an original member of the “Fem Unga” group, and who later in his career became a fellow of the Swedish Academy, played a pivotal role in promoting the work of D. H. Lawrence. Because Artur Lundkvist was considered to be the most prolific and respected writer of his time, the fact that he felt compelled to translate works of D. H. Lawrence so that they could reach a wider audience was an indication of the importance which was given to Lawrence’s catalogue of novels, short stories, poems, and plays. In this presentation, early editions from primarily Sweden will be presented, with an emphasis on the translators and the art work. Many of the early editions of Lawrence’s work have stunning cover art which gives the observer insights into not only the manner in which the Scandinavians perceived Lawrence, but also of the times in general. One can observe influences of national romanticism, but with a decidedly Nordic twist. A number of slides of these book covers will be shown during the presentation, together with commentary on the translators and on the special place Lawrence maintained in the hearts and minds of the Nordic peoples in the 1920s and 1930s.
“The plurality of D. H. Lawrence’s language: modernism as a form of liberty”
When the paintings of D.H. Lawrence were seized from the Warren gallery by a squad of policemen, in July 1929, the difference between the British “common sense” and Lawrence’s vision on art and life was perhaps at its highest peak. It was not as if Lawrence was a newcomer, yet these pictures scandalized the London audience with their depiction of nude physical details and their audacious sexuality, revealing both the “dirty hypocrisy” (Letters, VII: 373) and the conservative mentality of the British society of the epoch.
Though he was not a great painter, Lawrence was at least an ingenious, cultivated amateur and a very perceptive art critic who understood Cezanne and Van Gogh (for instance) far better than many of his contemporaries. It is obvious from his letters the passion spent in the slow process of having his paintings reproduced in a book since painting was another way of expressing – through visual images this time – his deep concern for creating a new artistic language. As he put it: “There is something sacred to me about my pictures, and I will not have them burnt, for all the liberty of England” (Letters, VII: 369 – 14 July 1929). Aware of the split between his being an Englishman and his creed “that my manhood and my sincere utterance shall be inviolate and beyond nationality or any other limitation”, D. H. Lawrence sought to emulate Blake in producing nonconformist paintings, which are romantic and modernist at the same time. His emotional modernism infused with defiant statements of artistic independence contrasted with T. S. Eliot’s argument of emotional impersonality in modern art. Lawrence founded his paintings as well as his prose writings on an inward-looking quest, in which mind and body are the two sides of the same coin. Devoid of the mythological subtext, his paintings show ordinary men and women vulnerable in their nudity and far from being a fault on his part, this links him to modernist painters such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Modigliani.
In his “Introduction to These Paintings”, Lawrence argued that the Anglo-Saxon art and life were thwarted and distorted by fear: fear of the body, of the physical self. But is there any argument for such a diagnosis?
Most of Lawrence’s innovations lie in his rejection of received ideas, in his distrust of common sense and academic manner. This is undoubtedly a major dimension of his vision which I seek to explore. Taking up specifically the notions of “obscenity” and “modernism” I aim at dismantling a number of clichés clustering around it during Lawrence’s life and some time after. Thematically and discursively, Lawrencean languages carry and intertwine cultural heritage, personal memory, and allegiances of all sorts across temporal and cultural borders, distances, and discrepancies, opening up the idiomatic and the idiosyncratic to the plurality of a very personal artistic vision.
“The CAMBRIDGE Edition of ‘[Autobiographical Fragment] (‘[Newthorpe in 2927]’)’”
In 2015, I edited and translated into Japanese a collection of D. H. Lawrence’s visionary tales and poems (to be exact, seven stories and two poems), which was entitled D. H. Lawrence Genshi-tan-shu, and was published by Heibonsha Press in September, the same year. While I had been working on one of the stories in the collection, a poignantly beautiful unfinished tale of utopia set in Lawrence’s hometown, ‘[Autobiographical Fragment] (‘[Newthorpe in 2927]’)’, I had found out that the Cambridge edition of the story I had been using contained a number of errors. Fortunately, as I had a photocopy of Lawrence’s holograph manuscript of the story (located in the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley), I was able to keep on translating the tale, switching from the Cambridge text to D. H. Lawrence’s own manuscript.
In this paper, I would like to scrutinize the Cambridge edition of the story and correct it where necessary. I would also like to pay close attention to the last part of this unfinished story. It goes thus in The Cambridge text: ‘That is why I don’t want to eat—’. However, according to Lawrence’s manuscript, the final part should be like this: ‘That is why I don’t want to eat—a butterfly’.
The reason why the last part should be so is also linked to the fact that the intact portion of the manuscript is followed by the stubs of seventeen torn-out leaves, five of which contain fragments of text, 130 odd words in all. I would like to touch on its significance, too.
“D. H. Lawrence and Lawrence Durrell as Eudaemonistic Novelists”
If there is any writer closer to D. H. Lawrence, as far as his theme and style are concerned, it is Lawrence Durrell. As a writer, Durrell ardently followed Lawrence in several respects. He also understood the depth of Lawrence’s mission as a novelist: “If he had had ten more years, we would have seen an artist of incomparable stature and importance to Europe”, he told Kenneth young in an interview. It will not be an exaggeration to say that Durrell, as a novelist, is an extension of Lawrence. In an interview with this writer, Mulk Raj Anand, a literary friend of Durrell in their younger days, says, “Thus, Durrell’s quest to himself and into society around him followed the struggles of D. H. Lawrence towards emancipation of human beings from the code of Victorian morality” (Anand). Therefore, my paper will be a brief comparative study of these two writers to show their common interest as novelists, and also to highlight their achievements.
London for D. H. Lawrence stands as a metaphor for an arid world that denied him all forms of creative inspiration. His “madness for the country” is more personal; it is also closely related to his concept of human happiness, or his idea of what human life should be. In other words, the life he found in London was not synonymous with the metaphysics that molded his thoughts and writings, and his literary mission was to save humanity. Lawrence not only wanted to transplant his metaphysical ideas into fiction, but also wanted to ensure that his deep-rooted ideas made him a successful writer. That is why he admitted that “to be a failure worries me”*, and he knew that the life in London was sure to make him a failure as a novelist. Lawrence Durrell was equally disgusted with his life in London. So, he moved to Greece at an early age. He confessed to Stephen Gray that he found England “worse than that….The truth is I’ve been rather hard on England and hard in a rather nasty way.” How “nasty” he is can be seen reflected in his first real novel, The Black Book.
It is difficult to evaluate the real greatness of these novelists by using the traditional methods of literary evaluation or classifications. In fact, Lawrence’s attitude to sex is derived from his metaphysical attitudes. Durrell takes it a little forward: “Constance, you see. I meant it was a chime for my Constance, too, to carry on the thread”, Durrell told John Hawkes while explaining how he carries the Lawrentian “thread” forward. The basic concern of these writers is in depicting the human activities that can lead to a better life, a chaste life, or a happy life. For them the body is a necessity for the soul: “Thou in me and I in thee”, as Dr. Radhakrishnan puts it. A novel that depicts fine virtues, and which serves as a pathfinder for a happy and blissful life, needs to be categorized as eudaemonistic—a term the present writer used in his book, Indian Metaphysics in Lawrence Durrell’s Novels. This paper will explain how these writers, Lawrence and Durrell, are on the same wavelength; why they deserve to be called eudaemonistic. Eudaemonism is “A system of ethics that evaluates actions in terms of their capacity to produce happiness”. It is in this light one should judge the novels of Lawrence and Durrell. Their characters seek inner liberation, peace, and happiness. They seek a life that is “bliss-side up”, as Durrell terms it.
“Lawrence’s Interregnum in London: To ‘Shatter [the] Enclosure’ of the Old World”
Upon returning to England from Mexico in mid-December 1923, D. H. Lawrence reported his feelings about his home country and its capital in a number of letters written right away. On December 14, 1923, Lawrence writes from Hampstead to Thomas Seltzer: “Am here—loathe London—hate England—feel like an animal in a trap. It all seems so dead and dark and buried— even buried. I want to get back west—Taos is heaven in comparison” (Letters 4 543).
Lawrence’s mention of “heaven” here may have been merely casual, but as a terminological pivot point for my study, I wish to dwell on its metaphysical and locational connotations. In letters from subsequent days in London, Lawrence tells Alfred Stieglitz that feels as if he has been “buried alive”; he expresses his desire for salvation to Thomas Seltzer: “God get me out of here”; he tells Mabel that “I don’t belong over here any more. It’s like being among the dead of ones previous existence. . . . I am a diminished specimen, here. But I shall soon rise up again” (Letters 4 543545). Fittingly, these letters mark the epoch of Lawrence’s clarifying thinking concerning the themes that marked his writing in his first New Mexican (and “old” Mexican) period (1922-23), a constellation of the conceptual loci nativity, indigeneity, religiosity, sexuality, and socio-political structure. Lawrence’s claim that “Taos is heaven by comparison” and that he shall “soon rise up again” hearkens his continuing concentration on the mythological Mesoamerican serpent-bird Quetzalcoatl. We can meet Lawrence at the location of these epistolary declarations, in London. These statements, prompted by his visceral reactions to his home country, are ones we might as Lawrence scholars take on anew, as these questions foreground the structural concerns Lawrence aimed to address in his writing in his second New Mexican/Mexican period, specifically relating to mythologies, religious clerical hierarchies, and interpersonal relational structures.
To use Lawrence’s powerful phrase from his late essay “New Mexico” (1928), “This is an interregnum,” we can explore his brief time in England in 1923-24 as a critical point of the shifting of regimes, regimes within his work that were already under his own scrutiny and that he himself was destabilizing. Significant scholarly attention has been paid to the revision of Quetzalcoatl into The Plumed Serpent as evidence of Lawrence’s evolution and the crystallization of his articulations concerning elemental ontological questions within his oeuvre. Virginia Hyde’s scholarship concerning this novel and well as of the Morning in Mexico essays clearly charts these movements, as does L.D. Clark’s foundational work. But in the weeks of Lawrence’s English interregnum, the time wherein his rejection of the “old world” becomes bodily as well as geographic, he wrote a number of texts that I will explore more deeply, specifically December 1923’s “On Coming Home” and January 1924’s “Dear Old Horse, A London Letter.” Using these two texts as elements of a clarifying illustration of sacred spaces and of the meaning of home, spirituality, and nativity, I will explain in this paper the critical importance of Lawrence’s London interlude between December 1923 and January 1924 to his conviction that he must “shatter an enclosure every time,” as he imagines himself, not the buried human he feels himself to be in London, but a horse “kicking his heels and making a few sparks fly” (“Dear Old Horse,” Sagar 28).
PARK, YEO SUN
“Lady Chatterley’s Lover in London, Tokyo, and Seoul”
The production of a text is subject to the cultural, economic, and political context of the time and place. This potentially means that a text can infinitely be reproduced in accordance with different historical periods and geographical regions of its reproduction. By tracing the journey of Lady Chatterley’s Lover from the metropolis to the colonized cities in East Asia, and in the course of it, by comparing the Western and the Eastern Chatterley affairs, this paper explores the cross-cultural and inter-lingual practices of translation that are implicated in the historical, cultural and political conditions of its own production. As the process of textual production of Chatterley novels in itself is very complicated, a comparative discussion of three different versions is required, and then the focus of discussion will be placed upon which versions have been chosen by East Asian translators for original texts and what are reasons behind the choices.
It is always interesting to think that Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover should have been brought to trial and become the focus of legal and cultural debate at the Old Bailey as late as 1960, which was around three decades after the book’s first publication in the early twentieth century. Reading C.H. Rolph’s record of the trial of Lady Chatterley and Charles Rember’s similarly detailed record of the American trial, conducted in 1959, a year earlier than the British trial, one may assume that perhaps it was not so difficult for the contemporaries who crowded the courtrooms for the trial to foresee the verdict of acquittal in both cases. The pornographic market was thriving in London at that time and the U.S. was paving the road to sexual revolution of the 1960s. The age required the free circulation of sexually explicit cultural products as an index of the level of freedom and democracy of society. Publishers began to notice that the ordeal of censorship a text underwent would enhance and affirm the text’s value as symbolic capital. After the acquittal, Lady Chatterley’s Lover sold three million copies within three months. The ironic implication of the case cannot be more evident considering the fact that Lawrence embarked on the project of Lady Chatterley in order to heal and save the nation in the aftermath of the tragedy of war, to restore a vivid and true relationship with the life force.
In contrast, the Tokyo Lady Chatterley trial took on a different meaning from the Western trials. D.H. Lawrence was especially attractive to the educated East Asian elites. They praised Lawrence’s ‘consecration of sex’ and his ‘desire to defeat pornographic imagination’. The first Japanese translation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover was published in 1935 based on Lawrence’s published and censored text. The translator, Itō Sei(Hitoshi), was a renowned scholar of English literature who was also the first translator of Ulysses into Japanese. When Itō Sei translated and published an unexpurgated version of the novel in 1950, the Japanese police accused both Itō and the publisher, Koyama Kyujiro, of production and sale of obscene writing. The Japanese indictment was the earliest trial of the novel as early as 1951. The final verdict, delivered in 1957, found both translator and publisher guilty of publishing and marketing obscene materials and ordered them to pay fines. Significantly, the verdict applied only to the translation of the book and, thus, following the verdict an edition of the English text sold with an English–Japanese dictionary was a great success.
According to Ann Sherif, the Tokyo trial had nothing to do with obscenity, but ‘it was the first opportunity since Japan’s defeat in World War II for the literary community, publishers, the government, and intellectuals to debate, in a public form, the means of determining the boundaries of respectability and morality, political authority, and the body’. It was a challenge to the government thrown down by the intelligentsia who sought to mitigate their guilt for not having been able, or chosen, to speak out against the imperial rulers during the war. Rather than as subjects of the emperor, they claimed themselves as free and responsible citizens. As postwar Japan was occupied with building a democratic and capitalist culture, Tokyo, with the SCAP’s connivance, was witnessing a growing pornographic market including the circulation of obscene magazines and decadent literature. The defence team claimed that the translation helped to ‘raise the cultural standards of Japan’ against this trend and to elevate Japanese readers. Postwar Japan was profiting from the Korean War, anticipating flourishing economic growth, and filled with the hope and expectation of regeneration. Lawrence’s discussion of healthy sexuality in relation to the fate of the nation could be realised, fully and completely, in Japan. The translator’s choice of the third version of Lady Chatterley as an original text is implicated in this social condition.
In the Korean context, the situation was entirely different. The first Korean translation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover was published in 1952, as the peninsula became the battleground on which the global influence of socialism and capitalism would be decided. The reason why the translator, a scholar of Western History rather than a literary critic or a writer, consciously chose to work on Lady Chatterley’s Lover in war stricken Seoul is significantly related to his choice of the first version of Lady Chatterley as the original text. This Korean edition is a singular violence to Lawrence’s work. Its gender and class-relations are greatly distorted and many passages have been excised. The text itself testifies the war, and reading the first chapter of the novel, it seems that there is something more behind this translation than omission. I would argue that this translation reveals a desire to be ‘above’ the war, just as Connie in Lawrence’s first version of the text feels ‘above’ the war when reading Rainer Maria Rilke (a part which is absent from the third version, upon which the Japanese translations were based). In the context of the Korean War, the act of translating Lawrence and of reading him in translation can be seen as a bid to transcend the conflict of the contesting imperialist ideologies of socialism and capitalism. By drawing on the imperialist cultural capital of the West, ironically, the translator attempts to propose an alternative philosophy.
“Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Green Hat: Or, How Lawrence’s Thought Adventures and World Travels Transformed His View of London”
It has long been recognized that Michaelis, a character that D. H. Lawrence added to the final version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, is modeled after Michael Arlen, the author of the popular novel, The Green Hat (Collins 1924). Michael Arlen is, of course, the pseudonym of Dikran Kouyoumdjian whom Lawrence first met in 1915 at Garsington. In November 1927, on the same day he decided to publish Lady Chatterley’s Lover privately, Lawrence coincidentally ran into Arlen in Florence. By then, Arlen had earned a great deal of attention and money because The Green Hat became a best-seller and was adapted for the stage, with successful runs on Broadway and London’s East End; it also provided a script for the silent film, A Woman of Affairs (1928), starring Greta Garbo.
David Ellis in his magisterial D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game, 1922-1930, summarizes Michaelis’ role in the final version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and describes how he provides a model for Sir Clifford’s new career as a writer who hopes to “prostitute himself to the bitch goddess of success.” He also explains how the working-class Oliver Parkin is transformed into the more worldly and sophisticated Oliver Mellors, making his marriage with Connie more viable. However, Ellis, like other Lawrence critics, does not explore in any detail how Iris Storm, the emancipated woman in The Green Hat, also reframes Connie Chatterley’s character and her double adultery. Iris identifies Lawrence as a “wonderful” writer, inviting comparison with Lawrence’s earlier female characters. Building on recent work by Earl Ingersoll, Joyce Wexler, Jane Marcus, and others, I will analyze how Connie’s character is changed in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, reflecting Lawrence’s greater freedom after his decision to distribute the novel privately and amplifying his critique of the popular fiction of the 1920s that Arlen and other writers produced.
In The Green Hat, the cynical, self-conscious narrator observes “that the whole purpose of a ‘best seller’ is to justify a reasonable amount of adultery in the eyes of suburban matrons” (124). In addition to Iris’ shameless adulteries, the novel details her harrowing abortion, her restless European travels, and her spectacular suicide, showing how these acts reflect the psychological trauma suffered by many English women—as well as men—in the war generation. This paper will explore how Connie’s decisions about sexual desire, birth control, and motherhood dramatize alternatives to Iris’ choices. Moreover, in keeping with the theme of the conference, I will show how these episodes help explain why Connie’s holiday destination is changed to Venice and why her return to London is described in more detail in the final version, providing more space for Lawrence’s criticism of London and British post-war society.
“‘Blood and Mental Consciousness’: D. H. Lawrence’s concept of the ‘biological psyche’ and its relation to his ‘art-speech’ reconsidered in the light of developing neuroscience.”
David Ellis’s “Lawrence and the biological psyche” (1986) and “Poetry and science in the psychology books” (1988) were in various ways remarkably perspicacious for a future in which Lawrence’s concept of the “biological psyche” would become juxtaposed with the revolutionary domain of neuroscience and cognate disciplines, such as sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, etc., and such theories as embodied cognition, in which we are currently engaged in the perennial quest to know ourselves better. D. H. Lawrence’s interest in his own time in Freudianism and various branches of the contemporary study of psychology and anthropology is evident from his letters and essays as well as his art, and it is fair to speculate that had he been alive today, he would have read with much interest, albeit critically, in neuroscience and its cognate fields. In my paper I will argue that to advance Lawrence studies in our time it is appropriate for critics and scholars to place his work and thought in relation to this revolutionary domain. Reference will be made to elements of Ellis’s analyses, and to Lawrence’s psychology books and his fiction and poetry, to sketch out ways this could be done.
“D. H. Lawrence: Croydon Poet”
In October 1908, when Lawrence arrived in Croydon to take up his post as an assistant master at Davidson Road School, he carried with him a Nottingham University College notebook in which he had entered 25 poems, so drawing a line under the poetry he had composed in Eastwood. When he collapsed with double pneumonia in November 1911 – an illness that would enable him to extricate himself from teaching and become a full-time writer in 1912 – he had filled not only the first College notebook but a second College notebook with more than 160 versions of his early poems. He was beginning to enter new poems – including ‘Snap-Dragon’ and ‘Wedding Morn’, composed in the summer and autumn of 1911– in a third College notebook which is now lost. The bulk of the 146 poems in Volume I of Collected Poems was composed during the three years Lawrence lived and worked in Croydon. This is not to say that most of the poems written in Croydon are about teaching school, about lodging with the Jones family in 12 Colworth Road, Addiscombe, or walking with Helen Corke on the Surrey Downs. It is nonetheless the poems set in or around Croydon – ‘A Snowy Day at School’ (later ‘School on the Outskirts’), ‘A Still Afternoon in School’  (later ‘Dreams Old and Nascent’), ‘A Baby Running Barefoot’  (from the ‘Movements’ sequence), ‘Reading in the Evening’ (later ‘Reading a Letter’), ‘A Life History / In Harmonies and Discords’, ‘New Wine’ (later ‘Late at Night’), ‘Liaison’  (later ‘The Yew Tree on the Downs’) and ‘The Best of School’  (as first published in ‘The Schoolmaster’ sequence) – on which this paper will focus. Lawrence’s Croydon years were the most productive for his early verse. Croydon as a geographical and cultural centre, a workplace and a home close to London but far from his Midlands home, did much to shape Lawrence and his writing.
“The Elemental Lawrence”
Lawrence has been celebrated for breaking with conventional dualisms and with more abstract versions of vitalism in his responses to the nonhuman world, as discussed in a Heideggerian framework by Michael Bell (1992), and more recently from an eco-critical perspective by Jeffrey Mathes McCarthy in Green Modernism (2016). While these studies discuss the way that Lawrence’s language constructs continuities and entanglements between human- and non-human lifeforms, they leave unaddressed Lawrence’s embrace of the elemental as a mediating category between the abstract and the concrete, between human and nonhuman beings that populate and determine the worlds of his fiction. Neglecting this aspect of Lawrence’s ecological imagination means missing a crucial avenue he used for mediating between the negative qualities he habitually ascribed to technological modernity (abstraction, disembodiment, and fragmentation) and what he valued in the nonhuman world: particularity, concreteness, organic self-givenness and instinctive connectivity. In this talk, I discuss Lawrence’s elemental thinking in the discussion of Melville in the Studies in Classic American Literature (1923), in the non-Oedipal, material conception of the “elemental psyche” in “The Fantasia of the Unconscious” (1922) and through the description of rain-making as evidence of a natural religion of natural immediacy without god in the late essay “New Mexico” (1928). I argue that Lawrence’s elemental writing re-mediates abstraction and the concrete by substituting elemental immediacy for the mediation of divinity. In contrast to the worshipper of “dark gods” he often seemed to be throughout the 1920s, the elemental Lawrence posits literature as a way of registering and consequently living in vivid relation to the universe through the material but abstractable elements: water, air, and electricity. Rather than devaluing all abstraction, Lawrence relies on elemental thinking to embrace concrete generality. Recognizing Lawrence as a practitioner of an elemental vision places him at the origin of some of the most innovative contemporary critiques of techno-media and the environment, such as the recent work of Peters (2015) and Parikka (2015). It also reveals unexplored connections to the elemental lifeworlds imagined by his modernist contemporaries.
“Lawrence, London, and Sexual Education”
In a letter to Earl Brewster, David Herbert Lawrence writes “I…put a phallus, a lingam as you call it, in each one of my pictures somewhere. And I paint no picture that won’t shock people’s castrated social spirituality. I do this out of positive belief, that the phallus is a great sacred image: it represents a deep, deep life which has been denied in us, and is still denied” (as qtd. in Sagar 43). Lawrence’s statement reflects his critical stance when it comes to the British puritan attitude towards sex. He regrets their denial of the body and their attempt to repress their sexuality. Therefore, in his paintings exhibited at the Warren Street Gallery in London on June, 15th 1929 and which was the source of major unrest, Lawrence forces the Londoners to confront their deepest fear by representing exuberant, naked bodies, for he was convinced that “sex is a very powerful, beneficial and necessary stimulus in human life” (as qtd. in Moore 201). The reception of his paintings accounts for the ambivalence Lawrence himself felt towards London, a metropolis which claims to aspire to modernity and progress, but at the same time continues to reinforce the archaic Elizabethan puritan legacy, by repressing human’s sexual instinct and need. Based on Lawrence’s paintings and his book The Painting of D.H. Lawrence (1929), I argue that through his art, especially those exhibited at the Warren Street Gallery, Lawrence urges the Londoners to dive back into infantile sexual life, demonstrating that sexual development and its acknowledgment play an essential part in an individual’s psychological evolution and creativity. Lawrence endorses the role of sex educator, who seeks to clear the metropolis from a general sexual paralysis, which prevents its inhabitants from giving their instinctive-intuitive consciousness free rein, in order for them to ‘hatch out’. Finally, it is striking that in many of his paintings, Lawrence has often taken himself as a nude model, for instance in Resurrection (1927) or in The Lizard (1928), which suggests his acknowledgement of one’s primary narcissism or love for one’s self and by extension for one’s own body, which in a Freudian perspective is prerequisite to the formation of an individual’s self-esteem. Lawrence’s portrayal of the family in Family on a Verandah (1928) or A Holy Family (1926), as well as the homoerotic allusion present in his watercolors Spring (1929) and Singing of Swans (1929) among others call for a Freudian reading and examination of Lawrence’s sexually loaded works of art. Consequently, my presentation offers an analysis of Lawrence’s paintings informed by a Freudian reading on sexuality, which casts light on Lawrence’s aspiration to sexually educate Londoners and by extension the English, who he sees as “a nation of poltroons in the face of life” (as qtd. in Sagar 76).
“Women in Love and in London (a Study of London Bohemia in D.H. Lawrence’s Novel)”
This paper is a study of a social group – artistic Bohemia – that Lawrence depicted in his novel Women in Love. The writer’s personal resentment of the urbanistic milieu is projected onto the distinct assembly that plays its transformative role in the life of the major female characters. “I feel I could NEVER see this foul town again – I couldn’t BEAR to come back to it” – exclaims Gudrun following one of those meetings, thus summing up her vehement judgment of the London Bohemia with whom she and Ursula have been congregating for a while. Birkin also declares he is tired of the people he is bound to find there. However, Lawrence’s irony and antipathy are not univocal: a complex discursive variety of verbal means features in the descriptions of people, the place they gather in and the reproduction of their dialogues. I am going to identify the typical, the objective and the purely subjective in the way Lawrence chooses to represent Loerke, the Pussum, and Maxim – the young Russian man, as well as the impression they make on Gudrun and Ursula. The London Bohemian group reflects a certain circle of Lawrence’s friends and associates, hence, a historical and biographical reference comes in handy.
Simultaneously, Lawrence as a shrewd observer, a chronicler of the subtlest changes in the outward and the inward, plays with the artistic detail in the psychological portrayal, body language depiction and creation of the mood and atmosphere. I will argue that the verbal dramatization of the scenes involving the Bohemian group of London artists and their associates, bespeaks authorial anxiety, deep-rooted fear of self-exposure, and an almost electric tension filling the gap between more provincial people like the main heroes and those occupying London’s rented furnished rooms, “common and ugly”.
Though such renowned Lawrence critics as Neil Roberts and David Ellis pointed at the distinct opposition between Birkin and the London artists’ group, little has been achieved in the study of women’s role in the creation of the London Bohemia’s image. In spite of himself, perhaps, Lawrence underscored female “coming of age” during the First Wave of Feminist movement through the characters’ London exploits.
“‘This place is so noisy’: D. H. Lawrence, his contemporaries and the soundscapes of London”
In July 1919, D. H. Lawrence wrote to Eddie Marsh: “London made me so sick, physically, not metaphorically that I couldn’t go out today. I should have liked so much to hear some Scarlatti also. / This place is so noisy” (3L 370). Lawrence thus seems to draw a firm dividing line between the exterior “noisy” places of London and its interior spaces of concert halls and opera houses where music could be enjoyed. Many of his musical contemporaries, on the other hand, perceived London as the very material for music, influenced perhaps by the extended description of “The last great movement in the London Symphony” in the closing pages of H. G. Wells’s Tono Bungay (1909) – a novel that Lawrence admired and that also provided direct inspiration for A London Symphony by Ralph Vaughan-Williams (1914‒1920).
My paper, then, will explore how representations of the soundscapes of London became important both to literary modernism and to a nascent Englishness in music during the period around the First World War, discussing the interconnections between writers and composers and, particularly, how Lawrence’s perceptions of the noises and music of London were shaped within this musico-literary context. Lawrence’s characteristic ambivalence will be traced in examples from his early work, such as The White Peacock (1911), towards a hardening in his responses to London, and the musical diversions it offered, in his wartime writings, such as Women in Love (1920) and Bay (1920).
“A Delicate and Difficult Dance: Lawrence’s Animal Ecology”
I have agreed to write a chapter on Lawrence and Ecology for Andrew Harrison’s new book, D. H. Lawrence in Context, now under contract with Cambridge UP. This chapter will summarize the ways in which Lawrence’s attentions to the natural world, and especially to animals, have emerged as important questions in Lawrence scholarship in roughly the last decade. I would be happy to present a segment of this chapter at the London conference in July, 2017. (The Context book will not yet be published at that time).
The essay will examine the interface between the human and the animal in Lawrence’s writing, exploring the overlap of “human” and “animal” natures, and our position in a fragile ecology. I will consider Lawrence’s ecological awareness in a range of his writings, from the poetry collection Birds, Beasts and Flowers (1923) to the essays in
Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine (1925), looking also at his fictional writings (e.g.
‘The Fox’, St. Mawr, and The Escaped Cock). I will also connect scholarly discussions of Lawrence and ecology to some of my recent work on dance and animality in Lawrence, taken from my forthcoming monograph, Choreographies of the Living: Bio-aesthetics in Literature, Art, and Performance (under contract with Oxford UP).
Dancing remains one of the more interesting yet critically under-examined elements of Lawrence’s writing. Understanding art as having its roots in inhuman forces allows us to make sense for instance of the well-known, yet under-theorized, moments in Women in Love when both Gudrun and Birkin dance. Gudrun’s scene in particular, where she dances with a herd of cattle, calls for a careful parsing through an animal studies lens. Much more than some “expressive” practice, these moments in Lawrence’s novel should be understood as becomings-imperceptible/animal that challenge the Oedipalized subject and its classic inter-subjective trappings. My discussion will consider dancing as a “lapsing out” or line of flight into the inhuman that emphasizes the visceral nature of dance, which foregrounds the somatic and inhuman in a uniquely intensified manner. Part of this discussion will discuss Lawrence’s references to Dalcroze movement techniques, which were based on natural gestures rather than the artificial positions of the ballet vocabulary. The influence of Dalcroze in Women in Love signals Lawrence’s grasp of various developments in early twentieth-century music and dance in major British and European cities, and reminds us that Hermione Roddice’s character is based on Lady Ottoline Morrell, who was a London patron for Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes. Thus the urban “sensation” of figures like Isadora Duncan, whose first major European performance was in London in 1900, resonate in important ways through Lawrence’s thinking about the body, animality, and dance.
“Lawrence on Trial Yet Again: The Charge? It’s Ridiculous!”
The charge that Lawrence’s themes and writing style are ridiculous was a central component of the proceedings against Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960. In the city in which the book, the press, and most notably the author went on trial more than half a century ago, I will take up the matter again as both prosecutor and defense attorney, using the occasion of our London conference to re-examine this aspect of Lawrence’s work. The questions on the docket are these: Is Lawrence ridiculous or is the accusation levied against him ridiculous? Has that particular charge changed in nature in the years since Lawrence’s death, especially in regard to his final novel, and if so, how? To what uses does Lawrence put ridicule and the ridiculous in his writings, and how does context make a difference? By reference to several publications of the 1920s, along with the Lady C trial of 1960, I will explore the application of the adjective ridiculous to Lawrence’s writings and life.
“Strangers in Strange Lands: D. H. Lawrence and Claude McKay at Home and Abroad”
The improbable influence of D. H. Lawrence upon Harlem Renaissance writers has been noted by several critics and biographers including Leo Hamalian, Gary Edward Holcomb and Wayne C. Cooper, but this transatlantic connection has never been adequately explored. Hamalian’s “D. H. Lawrence and Black Writers” (1990) came closest to examining this phenomenon, treating Lawrence’s influence on Claude McKay, Jean Toomer and Langston Hughes amongst others. It seems inevitably controversial that these writers, seeking to establish a specifically black aesthetic, should be influenced by a white European man now frequently pigeon-holed as racist, misogynistic, even fascist. Yet Hamalian skirts these issues, failing to probe the intricacies underlying these unusual interactions. This paper aims to correct these oversights, exploring the unlikely literary kinship of Lawrence and Jamaican-born McKay through the focalising lens of each author’s international travels and experiences of alienation both at home and abroad. I argue for a mutual sense of ‘transcendental homelessness’ and marginality as central to Lawrence’s appeal to McKay, linking this to a common critique of modern industrialised civilization and its effects upon humanity.
McKay proclaims that: ‘In D. H. Lawrence I found confusion – all of the ferment and torment and turmoil, […] and the psychic and romantic groping for a way out’ (1937, p. 247). For both men, ‘groping for a way out’ often meant escaping one’s present physical situation; both travelled widely and restlessly. McKay’s poetry often depicts a man at odds with his surroundings wherever he ventured. In ‘My Mountain Home’ (1912) the narrator finds himself ‘among / Strange folks in a strange lan’’ in Jamaica, while in ‘Outcast’ (1922) he feels ‘[s]omething in [him] is lost, forever lost;’ he is ‘a thing apart’. Similarly, arriving in Croydon in 1908, Lawrence reports feeling ‘a stranger in a strange land’. Later, during the war, England became an ‘alien nation’ to him, yet accounts of his travels find him equally disillusioned with the life and peoples he encountered abroad.
‘[T]he very distinctiveness of [McKay’s] vision kept him “walled in” – and necessarily walled out – from the many different groups with which he attempted affiliation’ (Hathaway, 1999, p. 51). This isolation and ‘distinctiveness of vision’ seem equally applicable to Lawrence, reflected in his ambiguous relation to mainstream, metropolitan modernism. Incorporating letters, travel writings and biographical works, this paper will look primarily at depictions of home and homelessness, marginality and alienation in Lawrence’s Women in Love (1920) and McKay’s Home to Harlem (1928), focusing respectively upon the characters of Ursula and Birkin and Ray and Jake. I argue that both authors’ compulsion to travel and their personal and artistic estrangement are symptomatic of a common longing for an elusive origin, a nostalgia for an unachievable ‘primitive’ or ‘instinctive’ life.
In conclusion, this paper seeks to uncover and probe a seriously under-researched facet of Lawrence’s transnational cultural impact. More widely, drawing upon Paul Gilroy’s ‘Black Atlantic’ concept, it looks to further consider and counter traditional ethnic and national divisions which persist in understandings of modernism, Lawrence and the Harlem Renaissance.
“Current Postcolonial Theories and Lawrence’s Mornings in Mexico and Other Essays”
Lawrence has been almost entirely ignored in postcolonial studies, and consequently little has been written about their relationship, despite Lawrence’s keen interest in the cultures of those who had experienced colonialism/imperialism; he addressed issues concerning colonial cultures in many of his works, including The Plumed Serpent, “The Woman Who Rode Away,” St. Mawr, and essays collected in Mornings in Mexico and Other Essays (Mornings in Mexico hereafter).
The distance between Lawrence and postcolonial studies is partially due to the fact that Lawrence’s works deal with old and new Mexico, which had attained their independence much earlier than African, Asian, and Caribbean countries, the main targets of most postcolonial studies. However, as long as colonialism/imperialism can generally be applied to former colonies, this overlooking cannot be fully justified. Therefore, I would like to redress this trend by starting a dialogue between Lawrence and postcolonial studies, believing that connecting rather than separating them would be necessary for a more productive discussion on both.
In this paper, I would like to bear the theories of the “trinity” of postcolonial theorists—Said, Bhabha, and Spivak—on Lawrence’s Mornings in Mexico, whose superb CUP edition, including previously unpublished essays, as well as correcting earlier mistakes and errors, was recently published. As Mornings in Mexico registers the writer’s experiences in the “new world” as a sort of tourist, it might read like ordinary imperial travel writing, which is notorious for racism, ethnocentrism, and eurocentrism. Truly, the Lawrence of this period was full of confusions and even contradictions with regard to native Americans —I wouldn’t bypass these in this paper—but, unlike other imperial travel writers who tended to appropriate other peoples’ cultures in the writers’ own terms, Lawrence was very cautious about his own writing. Thus, we realize that Lawrence has much in common with, and much to add to, postcolonial theories.
In general, I would like to suggest that Mornings in Mexico can be read as a postcolonial work, which subverts the presuppositions of imperial travel writing genre mentioned above. More specifically, I will consider several postcolonial notions discussed by these theorists in relation to Mornings in Mexico: for instance, the similarity between Said’s “de-orientalizing” and Lawrence’s “de-bunking,” Bhabha’s notion of mimicry with respect to Lawrence’s parody of travel writing genre, and the resemblance between Spivak’s idea on the difficulty of “self[ing] the other” and Lawrence’s statement on the impossibility of understanding Indian consciousness without the destruction of Western consciousness.” Furthermore, I would like address the issue of “primitivism” which centers around both Mornings in Mexico and postcolonial theories.
Of course, I am not going to argue that Lawrence had anticipated much of what these three theorists had to say, but I would like to prove that Lawrence was insightful enough for us to reflect on these theories. In addition, I would not overlook the differences that certainly exist between them. All in all, I hope my paper will contribute to mutual illuminations between Lawrence and postcolonial theories.
“The Body of Polarized Jouissance: Sylvia Plath’s Final Return to Lawrence in London”
After Sylvia Plath separated from Ted Hughes, but before she committed suicide soon after, Plath had moved to London and took up a new reading list, from which she returned to one figure she had utilized throughout her career: D.H. Lawrence. In those final years, Plath is most known for completing her book of poems, Ariel, and her novel, The Bell Jar. But while Ariel can be considered a liberating work of mourning, The Bell Jar is more victimized, both of which are read in relation to her resistance against patriarchy. Therefore Plath’s corpus continues to be a site for studying the afterlife of a body long-oppressed by the patriarchal structures. The young female protagonist who became so literally and figuratively trapped within Plath’s “bell jar” has drawn criticism into a dying and suffering body at work, one which remains in the world yet resists representation in it. The body in The Bell Jar captures a melancholic subject, and criticism returns to Julia Kristeva’s theories of abjection when reading Plath, but Kristeva’s melancholic lens can be further distinguished. The female melancholic body is particularly caught between two poles, between a sexual desire for the phallus, which enters its symbolic order, and a death drive that sustains a fidelity to the jouissance of the body, which is against its own inscription. Plath’s fickle sexual-relationships, tragic marriage, and deceased father have stood as representatives of Plath’s desire for, and fight against, phallic discourse and the loss in which it signifies, and Plath’s career-long affinity with D.H. Lawrence offers a unique case study of Plath’s torn body of writing, between two poles that each offer the death of a female subject. When Lawrence defines and wrestles with his own “polarisation” in such novels as Women in Love, his attention to a sexualized affect and the body’s (non)relation expresses a resistance to language within his characters and within the form of the novel itself, exemplified in the melancholic body of his female protagonists. Since Plath privileged Women in Love throughout her adult life, this chapter, in a way, answers Diane Middlebrook’s question, “What if Women in Love could be updated, to replace Lawrence’s heroine Ursula Brangwen with someone like Sylvia Plath?” (42), but does so by reading the polarisation of female desire in Women in Love to find the bodily form of The Bell Jar. As such, the polarisation of female desire in Lawrence can bring out the melancholic body in The Bell Jar.
“Narcosis and Nihilism: Lawrence’s London of the ‘Last Man’”
According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence possessed a ‘special sensibility’ which ‘was accompanied by a prodigious power of rendering the immediately experienced otherness in terms of literary art.’ It is no surprise that others, including the contemporary writer, Geoff Dyer, regard Lawrence’s travel writing, with its capacity to depict the unique ‘spirit of place’, to exemplify this particular gift. However, Lawrence’s sketch of London in his late essay, ‘Dull London’, is characterized more by its deeply-informed and well-considered philosophical reflections than by its immediate, impressionistic presentation of the city; Lawrence suggestively ascribes London’s fall from being ‘the heart of the world’s living adventure’ to a place of ‘inaction’ and ‘futility’ to the collective adherence to hedonistic, self-preservative values. In this paper I shall argue that Lawrence’s discussion of London typifies his mature critique of the metropolis and modernity: Lawrence portrays cities such as Sydney, Paris, and Venice in works such as Kangaroo and Lady Chatterley’s Lover in terms that similarly resonate with Friedrich Nietzsche’s character type of the ‘Last Man’, the memorable figure created by the philosopher to capture the state of ‘miserable ease’ and the comfortable mediocrity of modern life. By demonstrating that Lawrence follows Nietzsche in decrying the pervasive state of ‘gnawing uneasiness’ which attends the pursuit of ‘safe’, prudential ideals in his account of the modern city, I shall argue that Lawrence’s perceptions can be closely situated with an apprehension of Nietzsche’s broader, governing concerns: Lawrence discerns that the pervasive absence of purpose, the correspondent lack of agency, and the frustration of individual becoming are bound to modernity’s disavowal of, and desire to avert, experiences of suffering. The paper will go on to examine the parallels between Lawrence’s presentation of his final visit to London and his depiction of the ‘anaesthetic’ pursuit of pleasure in his post-war fiction.
“Spatial Depth, Heterotopia and the Imperial Unconscious in D.H. Lawrence’s Kangaroo”
It is generally agreed by critics that Kangaroo is highly biographical. “Lawrence projected himself into Somers—more than he did in Birkin, and more than later in Mellors”, says Anais Nin in D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study. For some, Kangaroo is an artistic failure, a mass of desultory bits. However, in recent years, the novel is regaining critical favors. John B. Humma regards it as Lawrence’s Moby Dick, extolling the novel’s magnificent power of suggestion and symbolic richness. Deviating from the traditionally temporal narrative mode, Lawrence has constructed a cacophony of spaces by strategically putting spatial expression into perspective. The fragmented Australian metropolis space is set against the aboriginal wilderness; the intellectual space against the unconscious and the heterotopian against the illusionary.
The essay reads Kangaroo in the context of the phenomenological writings on space by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, aiming to excavate how spatial metaphors incorporate thematic development in the novel from three parallel planes of psychology, imperialism and democracy. “Depth” is a core phenomenological concept in Merleau-Ponty’s spatial articulation, emphasizing a relation of envelopment, instead of juxtaposition, between subjects and objects. For Lawrence and Ponty, space is not to be encountered through detached gaze, nor is it a repercussion of metaphysical abstraction, but to be lived bodily and perceptually. Spatial depth finds its quintessential objective correlative in the vast aboriginal bush per se, which embodies the vertebral, passional consciousness innate in the primitive consciousness. Furthermore, space structures and is produced by social relations. In Kangaroo, Sydney is portrayed as a depthless heterotopia, devoid of any inner significance London has. The hierarchy between peripheral, colonial Sydney and central, metropolis London mirrors Lawrence’s covert imperialism deep-rooted in his political unconscious. Finally, the concept of depth is tinged with Lawrence’s thinking on modern politics, particularly to his scathing critique of democracy.
“Lawrence’s Revisions of Women in Love”
This paper will study Lawrence’ revisions of one of his ‘most ambitious and experimental works’ (Roberts) – the novel Women in Love. Following the publication of the Cambridge edition of Lawrence’s complete works, authorial revisions in all of his novels can much more easily be traced across earlier manuscripts and typescripts, thus providing ample evidence of Lawrence’s creative practice and his aesthetic vision. In the case of Women in Love, the existence of the earlier version, published by CUP as The First Women in Love (1998) offers even greater scope for comparing Lawrence’s initial conception of the work with the final published text (1998). In my earlier work I have shown that revisions in the two earlier great works – Sons and Lovers and The Rainbow – have a significant impact on characterisation and the portrayal of character consciousness, or more specifically the creation of what I have called ‘dialogic consciousness’. I propose to study revisions of key scenes in Women in Love with a view to explore whether Lawrence’s attempt to present character consciousness as interactive remains part of his aesthetic and philosophical endeavor in this darker and more fatalistic work.
“The Nasty Gamekeeper: From the White Peacock to Connie Chatterley”
A gamekeeper is a key figure in both Lawrence’s first novel, The White Peacock, and his last, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Parkin/Mellors, the lover of Lady Chatterley, appears to be a man who embodies energy, freedom, and the daring to break through barriers. However, a gamekeeper’s function in society is to protect property, to maintain boundaries, and to punish transgressors. The man who seems to speak for freedom, energy, and pursuit of personal and sensual fulfillment here is in fact also a man who curtails the energy and enterprise of others and is capable of significant cruelty. In the first version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and elsewhere, Mrs Bolton tells Connie that the miners hate and fear Parkin, later Mellors. In The White Peacock, the miners hate Annable so violently they push him to his death into a quarry. Both novels also have intense episodes of cruelty and neglect of children. In The White Peacock, Annable has a large family of children he has fathered as “a good animal,” without concern for their wellbeing. Their desperate mother beats the children, notably the boy Sam, whose wounds are revealed graphically in a poignant scene. In the late version of the narrative, Connie comes upon Parker/Mellors’ young daughter sobbing disconsolately because her father has shot her cat and shows no tender concern for her. It is an uncompromising portrait of deliberate cruelty.
Surprisingly, the narrative of the gamekeeper in each of these two works, separated by many years, cataclysmic historic events, and long periods of personal development and experience, have at their core an identical emotional complex. They reflect a paradigm of a man who is isolated by his peers, is proud and cruel to his children, and despises his wife and other women. Annable hates the white peacock in the abandoned churchyard as deeply as Mellors loathes his wife. Each eventually finds an affectionate relationship, Annable with Cyril, the passive narrator of The White Peacock, and Parkin/Mellors with Connie.
This deeply rooted repeated narrative suggests a complex of feelings springing from Lawrence’s own early experience of childhood emotions and relationships with both parents. The profoundly negative attitudes to women, as reflected in Annable’s strong animosity, are clearly expressed some years before Lawrence encountered the relationships and disappointments that seemed to give rise to the more fully articulated hostility of his mature writing. Complex early feelings about both father and mother are suggested, not necessarily direct reflections of experience but fantasy projections of feeling emanating from them. This paper will explore the parallels between these two works of fiction and what they suggest about Lawrence’s elemental creative force.
“D. H. Lawrence’s ‘O! Americans!’: Sympathy with, but not for, Native Americans”
On Easter, May 20, 1924, D. H. Lawrence wrote a poem entitled “O! America!” This poem, first published in 1938 by a University of New Mexico literary magazine entitled the New Mexico Quarterly, received sparse commentary or critique. Robinson Jeffers characterized the poem as “perhaps ‘public speech” . . . certainly not poetry.” My paper disputes this characterization and argues that the poem is surprisingly clear- sighted in recognizing patronizing attitudes by both sides of a dispute involving Taos Pueblo religious rights. Lawrence wrote the poem in response to an unprecedented Good Friday, 1924, visit to the Pueblo by high government officials: the United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs and the United States Secretary of Interior. They met with the governing counsel of the Pueblo to suppress ceremonial practices, especially Indian dancing, — viewed by some as immoral and satanic. The poem condemns the government’s high-handed effort to deprive Native Americans of religious rights by forcing the return of two Taos Pueblo boys to a government mandated boarding school. The Pueblo elders had pulled the boys from the school so that they could learn and perpetuate tribal religious traditions. The poem also criticizes the efforts of “reformers,” such as Lawrence’s Taos benefactor, Mabel Dodge Luhan and the future Indian Commissioner John Collier (although not by name), who Lawrence felt unduly “sentimentalized” Native Americans. I discuss the influence of Walt Whitman on the form and substance of the poem relying on Lawrence’s critique of Whitman in Studies of American Literature. I provide extensive historical context for the poem, including two other contemporary accounts of the government visit. I discuss the ironic religious significance of the poem’s title “O! Americans!” and Lawrence’s use of the term “Consummatum est” in the body of the poem. The poem reflects Lawrence’s growing disillusionment with America; yet his continuing hope that “Americans” as a new non-European society would exercise “noblesse oblige” towards Native Americans and let them live without interference. I also discuss the effect on the poem of the nativist mood in the United States and the Congressional debate over the Immigration Act of 1924 which concluded the week before Lawrence wrote this poem. Finally, I discuss potential faults of the poem, including evidence of paternalism, racism, objectification and political naiveté. While the poem has little to do with London, the events in Taos of that weekend of 1924 reflect Lawrence’s growing disillusion with America and a wistfulness for the America he imagined years earlier while reading Whitman and Cooper. This reality over remembrance may be similar to his London experience. Furthermore, Lawrence’s English detachment allows him to sympathize with Native Americans rather than seek their preservation as historical artifacts.
“My D.H. Lawrence: Critics, Friends, and Possessiveness as Theme”
Perhaps because his life history is, and always has been, part of his appeal, D. H. Lawrence inspires possessiveness among his critics that, while not unique in literary history, remains striking. Lawrence’s friends proved equally possessive of Lawrence, as a man and as an author. We’ll visit some notable examples.
The same kind of deeply personal engagement shapes my own history with D. H. Lawrence, which routes through feminist pioneers like Kate Millett through more sympathetic approaches emerging today. In some short scenes I will read from The Novelist’s Wife (published under the name Sasha Bristol), the fictional Frieda Lawrence I create feels fiercely possessive of her husband, much as the historical woman did. We’ll consider both facts and the underlying structure of possessiveness as a theme.
“Lawrence as life-believer: his continuing relevance to us today”
They [the Saywells] were the life unbelievers. Whereas, perhaps She-who-was-Cynthia had only been a moral unbeliever. (The Virgin and the Gipsy)
The true artist doesn’t substitute immorality for morality. On the contrary, he always substitutes a finer morality for a grosser. And as soon as you see a finer morality, the grosser becomes relatively immoral. (“Art and Morality,” 1925)
In a recent review of two books—Dan Fox’s Pretentiousness: Why It Matters and Lee Konstantinou’s Cool Characters: Irony and American Fiction—Barrett Swanson claims that “It wasn’t until the 1990s that nihilism, cynicism, and irony would become so pervasive in mainstream culture that the antipodes of sincerity, earnestness, and ideological commitment would begin to seem like rogue concepts.” Maintaining that “The patron saint of this ‘postironical’ age was David Foster Wallace,” Swanson notes that “Because Wallace fails to enunciate concrete values by which his reader should live, his commitment to postironic belief strikes Konstantinou as fleecy and abstract …”
With the above in mind, this seems like an appropriate time to rexamine some of the ways in which Lawrence managed to remain open to forms of nihilism, cynicism, and irony while also remaining committed to sincerity, earnestness and certain forms of belief. I propose to do this by reconsidering some of the questions I first raised in “’The Fact, and the Crucial Significance, of Desire’: Lawrence’s Virgin and the Gipsy,” an essay published back in 1985. Does Lawrence’s novella offer us a finer morality to the one it associates with the rectory? Or does it take us beyond morality? What might it mean—what did Lawrence think it meant? —to be a life believer? What ought we to make of the way in which the novella strikingly anticipates the theory of René Girard by insisting so strongly on the largely mimetic nature of desire?
In addition to The Virgin and the Gipsy and to very short extracts from Lawrence’s essays on the novel, this paper will also make brief reference to Women in Love: to the significance of Gudrun’s cynicism, of Loerke’s nihilism and of Birkin’s belief in marriage (and friendship).
“How London Launched Lawrence”
The young man who came to Croydon to take a job as a teacher was not the person for whom Frieda Weekley left her husband and children. She eloped with “an artist.” Lawrence became that person in the literary circles of London. He learned how to sell his work, and he saw how other writers lived. His career began when Ford Madox Hueffer accepted some poems for the English Review and publicized his discovery. Hueffer invited Lawrence to parties, introduced him to literary “celebrities,” and told everyone who would listen that Lawrence was a genius. Living so close to London, Lawrence was able to take advantage of these connections. He quickly learned how to maneuver in the London literary market. He understood the value of meeting editors and publishers, and he accepted their advice. Edward Garnett became a close friend, offering business and editorial advice. Hueffer and Garnett were ideal mentors. They had fostered new writing by figures like Conrad and James, and their personal lives were not bound by conventional morality. Although Lawrence assured Jessie Chambers he would have been happier back in Nottingham, his letters reveal how much he enjoyed the companionship and admiration of other writers. London strengthened Lawrence’s writing and his resolve; it launched his career and prepared him for Frieda.
“So Long, Bright Lights and Big City: Disillusionment and the Metropolis in D.H. Lawrence’s ‘A Modern Lover’ and Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’”
In November 1915, D.H. Lawrence wrote to Lady Ottoline Morrell, musing, “London does strike a blow at the heart, I must say. […] How much better and more beautiful the country is” (Zytaruk and Boulton 434). It is no secret that Lawrence did not care for London. His dislike for city life permeates his works, and even where the literature seems to present a more
ambivalent stance, the tone of the piece usually remains melancholic and dark. Lawrence’s “A Modern Lover,” presents just one such example of this phenomenon. Cyril Mersham, who is from the country, has been living in London, ostensibly to find more opportunity than he may have otherwise been afforded. While on a trip back home, we can see the love Mersham has for the country; he notes that he is walking “with lifted arms into the quiet flood of life” (Lawrence 29). There are a number of similar descriptions of the countryside, demonstrating Mersham’s deep connection to it. Lawrentians understand the importance of this connection, so it is troubling when Mersham is finally at the Coney Grey farm, and we observe just how the city has changed him. Not only is he manipulative, attempting to lure Muriel into a relationship of convenience, but he is no longer comfortable with the family; he has lost human connection:
Three years before, their lives would draw together into one flame, and whole evenings long would flare with magnificent mirth, and with play. They had known each other’s lightest and deepest feelings. Now, when he came back to them after a long absence, they withdrew, turned aside. He sat down on the sofa under the window, deeply chagrined. His heart closed tight like a fir-cone, which had been open and full of naked seeds when he came to them. (Lawrence 31)
Even though he is aware of the damage life in the city may have caused him and the relationships he most valued at one time, he still chooses to make his life in the city, telling Muriel, “’I’m going back—on Saturday. But—you’ll write to me. Good-bye’” (Lawrence 48). She doesn’t respond. The story ends on this lonely, cold, heartbreaking note. Cyril has sold out. He has allowed the city to beat him. Perhaps this is what Lawrence most hated about city life. It can beat a man down, this loss of connection
with nature and the Earth.
The argument is not new or unique; even contemporary artists, like lyricist Bernie Taupin, who grew up a mere thirtyfive to forty miles from Lawrence’s Eastwood, still explore this theme. Like Lawrence, Taupin does not care for the city life or what most might associate with a life of fame. In an interview, Taupin once explained, “I do not run in a celebrity crowd. I am prouder of my horses than my music. The cowboy code of ethics is one I subscribe to entirely. So much of what we otherwise see around is just vanity” (Poole). This ethos, arguably not too different from Lawrence’s, can be seen in songs like Taupin’s
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” performed by Elton John. The city’s siren call of fame and fortune prove too strong to be ignored, but the major difference between Lawrence’s Cyril and Taupin’s character lies in the fact that rather than selling out and staying in the city, he rejects it, declaring, “So goodbye yellow brick road / where the dogs of society howl / you can’t plant me in your penthouse / I‘m going back to my plow / … / I’ve finally decided my future lies / beyond the yellow brick road.” What makes the difference? Why does Cyril return to the city while the other young lad returns home? Exploring these questions and examining the two characters as foils reveals that though the characters make different decisions at the conclusion of their stories, the authors still demonstrate a similar philosophy about big city living and fame. What Taupin shows us outright with his character’s rejection of these ideals, Lawrence gives us in tone and feeling. We know that Cyril has made the wrong decision, and that is devastating. The reader longs to hear Taupin’s lyrics from Cyril’s lips; without the renunciation of the big city, Taupin’s character would become Cyril Mersham. This paper proposes to investigate this dynamic.
“Tiny Skirts, Shingled Hair, and Green Stockings: D.H. Lawrence’s Fascination with Fashion”
Although much has been written about D.H. Lawrence’s interest in the visual arts, little has been said about his keen eye for female fashion, especially how women’s fashions signify the defeat of the prelapsarian culture by the industrialized modern world. In a letter to Lady Ottoline Morrell of 14 May 1915, Lawrence comments on his recent trip to London: “The fashions and the women’s clothes are very ugly” (2L 339). Since he often mocked Lady Ottoline’s own dress sense (Hermione Roddice’s clothes in Women in Love are a direct reference to Ottoline’s wardrobe), Lawrence’s observation may have been intended to wound. His interest in personal adornment is evident in his letters to Lady Cynthia Asquith. On 16 August 1915, he wrote, “A rich man with a beautiful house is like a jewel on a leper’s body . . . . Your Stanway [house] is a jewel on leper’s body . . . . What good is it to a sick, unclean man, if he wears jewels” (2L 380). After the death of her brother, Hugo, on the fields of France in June 1916, Lawrence wrote “I suppose you are wearing black clothes for mourning—an ugly thought. . . . For them one should wear a lovely blue. When I go to Penzance again I shall send you a tiny brooch of blue chalcedony. That seems to me the only thing one should wear to the dead, it is so beautiful and immortal.” (2L 649).
Female dress and adornment features throughout Lawrence’s wartime writings, including those works that were begun or set during the First World War, such as Women in Love (1920), The Captain’s Doll (1923), The Ladybird (1923) and The Fox (1923). In my presentation, I will also discuss his war-time poetry. Look! We Have Come Through (1917) was originally to be titled “Frost Flowers,” an allusion to the poem in which Lawrence equates the short-skirted, shingled-haired woman with “the fiery-cold dregs of corruption” (1Poems 222) Images from the popular press, particularly of England and Germany, and of works by contemporary artists, such as Ernst Kirchner, will be employed to illustrate the sartorial styles to which Lawrence objected, including the appropriation of military dress by home-front men and women.
 D.H. Lawrence, Selected Essays (Penguin, London, 1950),p.124.