The analysis of gerald crich of women in loveby jack chen 陈赵杰women in love is widely regarded as d
TheAnalysis of Gerald Crich of Women In LoveBy Jack Chen 陈赵杰Women in Love is widely regarded asD. H. Lawrences greatest novel. It is a continuation of The Rainbow both novels original ...TheAnalysis of Gerald Crich ofBy Jack Chen 陈赵杰is widely regarded as D. H. Lawrences greatest novel. It is a continuation of The Rainbow bothnovels originally having been intended as one novel The Sisters though in final form each workis self-contained. As with The Rainbow it would be a mistake to conclude that Lawrencesinterest was only in psychological reality and not in social reality. In the two cannot be easilyseparated. The novel was written during a period of major crisis for Western civilization: theFirst World War. Though the war is not specifically mentioned it acts as a subtext to the lives ofthe individual characters and their relationships. The novel is an attempt to understand thec rootsand nature of this crisis for Western civilization: tensions and conflicts which affect the lives ofLawrences characters are not presented just for their own sake，but are representative of forcesthat are related to the catastrophe of the First World War. In other words，it can be argued thatLawrence is writing a novel about history but he is doing so in psychic terms.This can be best illustrated by looking at the role of Gerald Crich in the novel. Gerald is notmerely a psychological portrait of an individual: he is a representative consciousness a product ofthe most advanced civilization the world had yet seen but one which has exploded into violenceand destruction in the bloodiest war in human history. More than any of the othercharacters ，Gerald is directly connected with wider social and cultural concerns. He is anindustrialist capitalist mine owner potentially someone who could go into politics and might endup as prime minister. He is both physically and mentally strong. One might go so far as to saythat he is the best representative of his culture and civilization incorporating in himself itsconfidence its energy its power. This power has been achieved by the human domination andexploitation of nature. Coal is extracted from the earth and transformed into the major source ofpower for industry and it is significant that Gerald is a mine owner. He asserts his will to powerin order to dominate and control nature. When Birkin asks him what he lives for，he replies “Isuppose I live to work to produce something in so far as I am a purposive being” (Chap. 5). Heaims to increase production and human control by substituting the mechanical for the organic.Thus greater use will be made of technology and human labour will be mechanised: “There weretwo opposites his will and the resistant Matter of the earth. And between these he could establishthe very expression of his power a great and perfect machine a system an activity of pure orderpure mechanical repetition repetition ad infinitum hence eternal and infinite” (Chap. 17) andthose who work in his mines are also “reduced to mere mechanical instruments.” What this failsto take into account is that human beings are also part of nature and that therefore there may be aprice to pay for this assertion of mechanistic power. It is easy to see that Gerald is representative of the kind of individualism that promoted the triumph of bothcapitalism and industrialism. Hes a captain of industry to use Carlyles phrase; by ... It is easy to see that Gerald is representative of the kind of individualism that promoted thetriumph of both capitalism and industrialism. Hes a captain of industry to use Carlyles phrase;
by the force of his own will he can control all aspects of nature to serve his purposes. This ismost powerfully dramatized in Chapter 9 when he asserts his power over the mare to force it tosubmit to his will even though a train is passing next to it. But he has no wider social or spiritualvision. Increasing material prosperity is for him an end in itself. He regards workers as isolatedbeings who are free to do as they like outside working hours. But what is the ultimate purpose ofincreasing production and material prosperity Birkin asks him? Gerald has no satisfactoryanswer; he does not want to confront such questions and is disturbed by them. The novel linksGeralds belief in the will and individualism which have their basis in bourgeois liberal valueswith a different tradition often seen as opposed which emphasized ego and will: namelyRomanticism in its darker aspect particularly Byronic egotism which emphasized the darkerelements of the self. The drive to dominate nature by force of will the novel suggests has its rootsin the kind of sadistic or perverted human impulses explored in Byrons writing and the work ofthose influenced by him. It is significant that when Gerald was a child he killed his brotherthough supposedly it was an accident.Power and love are major themes in the novel. This has disastrous consequences bothindividually and culturally as is apparent in the catastrophe that ends the Ring cycle. Lawrencetakes a similar view and Gerald is directly linked with the Nibelung Alberich – who renounceslove for power – in Chapter 4 of the novel. Geralds commitment to the will and power make himvirtually incapable of love. Yet the pointlessness of basing a life on the power of the will isrevealed since having mechanised both nature and workers Geralds power of will becomesredundant as the mechanism runs itself: “The whole system was now so perfect that Gerald washardly necessary any more” (Chap. 17). His philosophy of the will has also been undermined byBirkins sceptical critique and by witnessing the death of his father a man who exercised ironcontrol throughout his life but whose force of will is finally defeated by death: “the centralizingforce that had held the world together seemed to collapse with his father” (Chap.17). Theculmination of the crisis in Geralds life is brought about through his relationship with Gudrun.Love had only previously featured in Geralds life as a form of power struggle in which he wouldseek to impose his will on the woman but as soon as this was achieved he lost interest. Hisrelationship with Gudrun is different as his power of will has been undermined by the experienceof mental and spiritual crisis. She had been attracted to him initially by seeing him exert his willover the mare. But it is a weakened Gerald who visits her after his fathers death. For the firsttime he is in a relationship with a woman who has the stronger will. This is however anopportunity for him to find an alternative to his bankrupt power philosophy. Birkin tries toencourage him to explore the unconscious or “dark” side of the self and to trust his spontaneousimpulses. But Gerald fears such an exploration as it would require surrendering the power of thewill to unconscious forces. Likewise he cant tolerate a relationship with a woman in which he isnot in control. Both Birkin and Gudrun see in him the potential to change and the fact that he hasthis potential differentiates him from his father and sister Winifred both of whom refuse to allowanything to undermine their power of will. Gerald has to come to terms with the ultimate sterilityof such control and the dangers of the repression of the “dark” forces in the self but he cannotfinally bring himself to risk any contact with such forces. Thus he fears to allow his will tosubmit to the sexuality of Gudrun as it would “[tear] the surface of his ultimate consciousnessletting through the for ever unconscious unthinkable red ether of the beyond the obscenebeyond” (Chap. 18). Gudrun in contrast is eager to confront “the obscene beyond” but Geraldcant give up his commitment to a controlling consciousness and its social concomitants
conformity and respectability even though they have led only to futility in his own life. Sincethere is no going back or forward for him the only option for him is to cease to exist. Most critics who have written on Lawrence have regarded Women in Love as his greatest achievement. Itdevelops the themes of The Rainbow by projecting them into the modern age and it is more expe ... Most critics who have written on Lawrence have regarded as his greatest achievement. Itdevelops the themes of The Rainbow by projecting them into the modern age and it is moreexperimental in a formal sense departing from the earlier novels family-chronicle structure infavour of a more “spatial” structure based on a number of relationships interacting with eachother at the same time so that modernist form and modernist content are persuasively integratedin Women in Love. It is thus a major modernist text and possesses an intellectual power that fewother twentieth-century novels can match.（1450 words）At a glance:First Published: 1920Type of Work: NovelGenres: Long fiction, Psychological fictionSubjects: Values, Self-discovery, Love or romance, Sex or sexuality,Twentiethcentury, Marriage, Emotions, England or English people,Sisters, Mines, miners, or mining, Austria orAustriansLocales: England, AustriaContinuing the saga of the last generation of Brangwens in a sequel to THE RAINBOW, this novelnarrates the tragic involvement among four characters, Rupert Birkin, Ursula Brangwen, GudrunBrangwen, and Gerald Critch. Gerald’s seething passion for Gudrun culminates in his own suicide ashe wanders into the Alpine snow where he will freeze to death. Rupert’s love for Ursula, equallyviolent and potentially destructive at times, achieves an uneasy equilibrium that is upset by the deathof his close friend Gerald, whom Rupert has loved as much as he has Ursula.The novel opens with the wedding of Gerald’s younger sister and with the boredom experienced bythe Brangwen sisters, who are bound to tedious work in the small northern England town of theirbirth. Rupert’s involvement with a willful, domineering aristocratic woman ceases as he becomesincreasingly attached to Ursula. In turn, Gerald pursues and captures the mercurial artist Gudrun,and the four decide to vacation together in the Alps. Gerald’s untimely end is occasioned byGudrun’s cruel rejection of his affection after the departure of Ursula and Rupert.In part a roman a clef of Lawrence’s relations with Frieda von Richtofen and their friends KatherineMansfield and Middleton Murry, the novel is also an allegorical representation of the social crisis ofBritain in the years immediately following the Great War. Less obviously salacious than LADY
CHATTERLEY’S LOVER, the novel is a more sober and philosophical assessment of the decline ofBritain’s ruling classes.Bibliography:Draper, R. P. D. H. Lawrence. New York: Twayne, 1964. An accessible introduction to Lawrence’schief works, including useful biographical background and extensive commentary on Women inLove.Kermode, Frank. D. H. Lawrence. New York: Viking Press, 1973. Sheds light on the novel’sphilosophical concerns.Leavis, F. R. D. H. Lawrence: Novelist. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968. Includes a lengthy chapteron Women in Love that draws attention to overlooked themes. Reassesses the novel’s importance.Miko, Stephen J., ed. and comp. Twentieth Century Interpretations of “Women in Love.” EnglewoodCliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969. Does not cover recent studies, but provides convenient access to arange of important earlier essays and opinions.Oates, Joyce Carol. “Lawrence’s Götterdämmerung: The Apocalyptic Vision of Women in Love.”In Critical Essays on D. H. Lawrence, edited by Dennis Jackson and Fleda Brown Jackson. Boston:G. K. Hall, 1988. A brilliant discussion of symbolism and eschatology in Women in Love, informed byOates’s own experience as a novelist.D. H. Lawrence: Women in Love (2685 words)Ken Newton (University of Dundee)Women in Love is widely regarded as D. H. Lawrences greatest novel. It is acontinuation of The Rainbow (1915), both novels originally having been intended as onenovel, The Sisters, though in final form each work is self-contained. After difficulties infinding a publisher, understandable as The Rainbow had been prosecuted forobscenity, Women in Love was eventually privately published in New York in 1920 andin London in 1921. It is clear that both The Rainbow and Women in Love are majordepartures from the main tradition of the English novel with its emphasis on a realisticpresentation of both character and environment. Lawrences use of a heightened andmore expressive prose than ...Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, pleaseclick here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by expertsin their field, more than 95% of them university professors.
Citation:Newton, Ken. "Women in Love". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November2002[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=8853, accessed 08 January2012.] Plot Summary of Women in Love"Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen are two sisters living in the Midlands of England in the 1920s.Ursula is a teacher, Gudrun an artist. They meet two men who live nearby, Rupert Birkin andGerald Cricht. The four become friends. Ursula begins to date Birkin and Gudrun eventuallybegins a love affair with Gerald.The four are all deeply concerned with contemporary questions of society, politics, and therelationship between men and women. They go for a party at Geralds manor house, but duringthe course of the evening, Geralds sister, Diana, drowns. Gudrun becomes the teacher andmentor of his youngest sister. Soon Geralds father passes away as well after a drawn-out illness.Birkin asks Ursula to marry him, and she agrees. Gerald and Gudruns relationship, however, isbecoming more stormy. The four go on vacation together to the Alps. Gudrun begins an intensefriendship with an artist she meets there called Loerk. Gerald cannot deal with this and theirrelationship begins to spiral out of control."Kelly Jones, Resident Scholar D. H. Lawrence Women in Love Introduction by Joyce Carol Oates Foreword by the Author THEMODERNLIBRARY NEWYORK 1999 Modern Library Edition
time, he gave up teaching.His first two novels, The White Peacock and The Trespasser, were published in 1911 and1912. About three weeks after the Zublication of The Trespasser, he left England withFrieda Weekley, née von Richthofen, the German wife of Ernest Weekley, a British linguistwho had been his French and German instructor at University College. He wrote the finalversion of his autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers (1913)— begun when his mother wasdying of cancer in 1910—during their yearlong courtship in Germany and Italy. It wasimmediately recognized as the first great modern restatement of the oedipal drama, but,like most of Lawrences novels during his lifetime, sold poorly. They married in London inJuly 1914, immediately after Friedas divorce became final, and lived peripatetically and inrelative poverty. They spent World War I in England, a country they both essentiallydisliked, and endured a series of clumsy surveillance and harassment campaigns by localpolice because of her nationality (several of her relatives were diplomats, statesmen, andpoliticians, and she was a distant cousin of Manfred von Richthofen, the ―Red Baron‖) andhis apparent lack of patriotism (among other charges, The Prussian Officer, a collection ofstories, published in November 1914, several months after Great Britain entered the war,was considered politically and morally offensive by conservative booksellers). Exempt fromactive service because of his health, he wrote The Rainbow and Women in Love, arguablyhis two greatest novels. The former was seized and burned by the police for indecency inNovember 1915, two months after publication; Lawrence was unable to find a publisher forthe latter until six years later. Composition of these two novels coincided with bouts oferratic behavior in Lawrence that bordered on mental instability, sexual confusion andexperimentation that threatened to undermine his marriage, and endless health reversals,including a diagnosis of tuberculosis. Twilight in Italy, a collection of acerbic travel essaysbelieved by some to show a sympathy for fascism that became more explicit in, forexample, his novel The Plumed Serpent (1926), was published in 1916. He recorded thevicissitudes of his marriage in an autobiographical poem cycle, Look! We Have ComeThrough (1917).The Lawrences departed for Europe in late 1919 and spent most of the next two years inItaly and Germany. The Lost Girl, a novel, was published in 1920 and received the JamesTait Black Memorial Prize the following year, which also saw the publication of Movementsin European History, a text for schoolchildren; Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious, an anti-Freudian tract; Tortoises, a collection of poems; Sea and Sardinia, a travel book; and,belatedly, Women in Love. Early in 1922 he and Frieda went around the world by boat.They visited Ceylon, lived in Australia for a month and a half, and in the summer sailed toAmerica, where they settled in New Mexico. Aarons Rod, a novel; Fantasia of theUnconscious, a sequel to Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious; and England, My England, acollection of stories, were published that year. In the spring of 1923, after moving toMexico, he and Frieda separated temporarily. He toured the western United States andbriefly returned to Mexico; she moved to London. Kangaroo, his novel of Australia,and Birds, Beasts, and Flowers, a collection of poems, were published in the fall. Hereturned to Frieda in the winter. They went to New Mexico again in the spring of 1924; hesuffered bouts of influenza, malaria, and typhoid fever the next year. The Lawrenceseventually resettled in Italy in 1926. He began writing his last novel, Lady ChatterleysLover, in 1926. It was published two years later and banned in England and the UnitedStates as pornographic. Lawrence was an avid amateur painter, and a selection of his
paintings—grossly rendered, full-figured representational nudes—was exhibited in Londonin 1929. The show was raided on July 5 by the police, who removed thirteen of thecanvases. Lawrence coincidentally suffered a violent tubercular hemorrhage in Italy thesame day. He went to Bavaria to undergo a cure—it was unsuccessful—and in 1930 entereda sanatorium in Vence, France, where treatment similarly failed. He died in a villa in Venceon the night of March 2, a half year short of his forty-fifth birthday, and was buried in alocal cemetery. His body was eventually disinterred and cremated, and his ashestransported to Frieda Lawrences ranch outside Taos, New Mexico. In addition tonumerous plays, collections of poetry, and other, lesser-known works published during hislifetime, his novelsThe Virgin and the Gypsy and Mr. Noon were published posthumously. Contents INTRODUCTION BY JOYCE CAROL OATES xi FOREWORD xxxi COMMENTARY xxxiii WOMEN IN LOVE I. Sisters 3 II. Shortlands 20 III. Classroom 32 IV. Diver 43 V. In the Train 50 VI. Crème de Menthe 60 VII. Totem 76 VIII. Breadalby 82 IX. Coal-Dust 111 X. Sketch-Book 120 XI. An Island 125 XII. Carpeting 136 XIII. Mino 147 XIV. Water-Party 159 XV. Sunday Evening 196 XVI. Man to Man 205 XVII. The Industrial Magnate 218 XVIII. Rabbit 242 XIX. Moony 253 XX. Gladiatorial 275 XXI. Threshold 287 XXII. Woman to Woman 303 XXIII. Excurse 314 XXIV. Death and Love 334 XXV. Marriage or Not 364 XXVI. A Chair 368 XXVII. Flitting 379 XXVIII. In the Pompadour 396 XXIX. Continental 403
XXX. Snowed Up 458 XXXI. Exeunt 493. Introduction by Joyce Carol OatesWomen in Love is an inadequate title. The novel concerns itself with far more thansimply women in love; far more than simply women in love. Two violent love affairs are theplots focus, but the drama of the novel has clearly to do with every sort of emotion, andwith every sort of spiritual inanition. Gerald and Birkin and Ursula and Gudrun areimmense figures, monstrous creations out of legend, out of mythology; they are unable toalter their fates, like tragic heroes and heroines of old. The mark of Cain has been onGerald since early childhood, when he accidentally killed his brother; and Gudrun isnamed for a heroine out of Germanic legend who slew her first husband. The pace of thenovel is often frenetic. Time is running out, history is coming to an end, the Apocalypse isat hand. Dies Iraeand The Latter Days (as well as The Sisters and The Wedding Ring) weretitles Lawrence considered for the novel, and though both are too explicit, too shrill, theyare more suggestive of the chiliastic mood of the work (which even surprised Lawrencewhen he read it through after completion in November of 1916: it struck him as ―end-of-the-world‖ and as ―purely destructive, not like The Rainbow,destructive-consummating‖).Women in Love is a strangely ceremonial, even ritualistic work. In very simple terms itcelebrates love and marriage as the only possible salvation for twentieth-century man anddramatizes the fate of those who resist the abandonment of the ego demanded by love: asacrificial by Joyce Carol Oates.rite, an ancient necessity. Yet those who ―come through‖—Birkin and Ursula—are hardly harmonious; the novel ends with their arguing aboutBirkins thwarted desire for an ―eternal union with a man,‖ and one is given to feel that theshadow of the dead man will fall across their marriage. And though the structure of thenovel is ceremonial, its texture is rich, lush, fanciful, and, since each chapter is organizedaround a dominant image, rather self-consciously symbolic or imagistic; action issubordinate to theme. The perversity of the novel is such that its great subject of mankindstragically split nature is demonstrated in the art-work itself, which is sometimes a fairlyconventional novel with a forward-moving plot, sometimes a gorgeous, even outrageousprose poem on the order of the work Aloysius Bertrand and Charles Baudelaire were doingin the previous century. Birkin is sometimes a prophetic figure, and sometimes merelygarrulous and silly; Ursula is sometimes a mesmerizing archetypal female, at other timesshrill and possessive and dismayingly obtuse. In one of Lawrences most powerful lovescenes Gerald Crich comes by night to Gudruns bedroom after his fathers death and isprofoundly revitalized by her physical love, but Gudrun cannot help looking upon himwith a devastating cynicism, noting his ridiculous trousers and braces and boots, and she isfilled with nausea of him despite her fascination. Gudrun herself takes on in Geraldsobsessive imagination certain of the more destructive qualities of the Magna Mater or thedevouring female, and she attains an almost mythic power over him; but when we last seeher she has become shallow and cheaply ironic, merely a vulgar young woman. It is a
measure of Lawrences genius that every part of his immensely ambitious novel works(with the possible exception of the strained chapter ―In the Pompadour‖) and that theproliferating images coalesce into fairly stable leitmotifs: water, moon, darkness, light, theorganic and the sterile.Our own era is one in which prophetic eschatological art has as great a significance as itdid in 1916; Lawrences despairing conviction that civilization was in the latter days is oneshared by a number of our most serious writers, even if there is little belief in theApocalypse in its classical sense. The notion of antichrist is an archaic one, a sentiment thatposits unqualified belief in Christ; and the ushering in of a violent new era, a millennium,necessitates faith in the transcendental properties of the world, or the universe, whichcontrast sharply with scientific speculations about the fate we are likely to share. Even inhis most despairing moments Lawrence remained curiously ―religious.‖ It is a tragedy thatWestern civilization may be doomed, that a man like Gerald Crich must be destroyed, andyet—does it really matter? Lawrence through Birkin debates the paradox endlessly. Hecannot come to any conclusion. Gerald is beloved, yet Gerald is deathly. Gerald is abrilliant young man, yet he is a murderer, he is suicidal, he is rotten at the core. It is apossibility that Birkins passionate love for him is as foully motivated as Gudruns andwould do no good for either of them. Can human beings alter their fates? Though hispessimism would seem to undercut and even negate his art, Lawrence is explicit in thisnovel about his feelings for mankind; the vituperation expressed is perhaps unequaled inserious literature. Surely it is at the very heart of the work, in Birkins strident rantingvoice:I detest what I am, outwardly. I loathe myself as a human being. Humanity is a hugeaggregate lie, and a huge lie is less than a small truth. Humanity is less, far less than theindividual, because the individual may sometimes be capable of truth, and humanity is atree of lies. . . .. . . I abhor humanity, I wish it was swept away. It could go, and there would beno absolute loss, if every human being perished tomorrow.But Ursula also perceives in her lover a contradictory desire to ―save‖ this doomed world,and characteristically judges this desire a weakness, an insidious form of prostitution.Birkins perverse attachment to the world he hates is not admirable in Ursulas eyes, forUrsula is no ordinary woman but a fiercely intolerant creature who detests all forms ofinsincerity. She is Birkins conscience, in a sense; his foil, his gadfly; a taunting form ofhimself. Yet later, immediately after Birkin declares that he loves her, she is ratherdisturbed by the starkly nihilistic vision he sets before her; and indeed it strikes us as moretragic than that of Shakespeare:We always consider the silver river of life, rolling on and quickening all the world to abrightness, on and on to heaven, flowing into a bright eternal sea, a heaven of angelsthronging. But the other is our real reality . . . that dark river of dissolution. You see it rollsin us just as the other rolls—the black river of corruption. And our flowers are of. this—our seaborn Aphrodite, all our white phosphorescent flowers of sensuous perfection, all ourreality, nowadays.
Aphrodite herself is symptomatic of the death-process, born in what Lawrence calls the―first spasm of universal dissolution.‖ The process cannot be halted. It is beyond theindividual, beyond choice. It ends in a universal nothing, a new cycle in which humanitywill play no role. The prospect is a chilling one and yet—does it really matter? Humanity inthe aggregate is contemptible, and many people (like Diana Crich) are better off dead sincetheir living has somehow gone wrong. No, Birkin thinks, it cant really matter. His moodshifts, he is no longer frustrated and despairing, he is stoical, almost mystical, like one whohas given up all hope. For he has said earlier to Gerald, after their talk of the death of Godand the possible necessity of the salvation through love, that reality lies outside the humansphere:Well, if mankind is destroyed, if our race is destroyed like Sodom, and there is thisbeautiful evening with the luminous land and trees, I am satisfied. That which informs it allis there, and can never be lost. After all, what is mankind but just one expression of theincomprehensible. And if mankind passes away, it will only mean that this particularexpression is completed and done. . . . Humanity doesnt embody the utterance of theincomprehensible any more. Humanity is a dead letter. There will be a new embodiment, ina new way. Let humanity disappear as quick as possible.Lawrences shifts in mood and conviction are passionate, even unsettling. One feels that hewrites to discover what he thinks, what is thinking in him, on an unconscious level. Love isan ecstatic experience. Or is it, perhaps, a delusion? Erotic love is a way of salvation—or isit a distraction, a burden? Is it something to be gone through in order that ones deepestself may be stirred to life? Or is it a very simple, utterly natural emotion . . .? (In Sons andLovers Paul Morel is impatient with Miriams near-hysterical exaggeration of ordinaryemotions; he resents her intensity, her penchant for mythologizing, and finds solace inClaras far less complex attitude toward sexual love.) Lawrence does not really know,regardless of his dogmatic remarks about ―mind-consciousness‖ and ―blood-consciousness.‖ He cannot know; he must continually strive to know, and accept continualfrustration . . .In Lawrences work one is struck repeatedly by the total absence of concern forcommunity. In the novels after Sons and Lovers his most fully developed and self-containedcharacters express an indifference toward their neighbors that is almost aristocratic. BothAnna and Will Brangwen of The Rainbow are oblivious to the world outside theirhousehold: the nation does not exist to them; there is no war in South Africa; they are in a―private retreat‖ that has no nationality. Even as a child Ursula is proudly contemptuousof her classmates, knowing herself set apart from them and, as a Brangwen, superior. Sheis fated to reject her unimaginative lover Skrebensky who has subordinated hisindividuality to the nation and who would gladly give up his life to it. (―I belong to thenation,‖ he says solemnly, ―and must do my duty by the nation.‖) Some years later she andGudrun express a loathing for their parents home that is astonishing, and even the lesspassionate Alvina Houghton ofThe Lost Girl surrenders to outbursts of mad, hilariousjeering, so frustrated is she by the limitations of her fathers household and of the miningtown of Woodhouse in general. (She is a ―lost‖ girl only in terms of England. Though herlife in a primitive mountain village in Italy is not a very comfortable one, it is nevertheless
superior to her former, virginal life back in provincial England.)Lawrence might have dramatized the tragedy of his peoples rootlessness, especially as itcompels them to attempt desperate and often quixotic relationships as a surrogate forsocial and political involvement (as in The Plumed Serpent and Kangaroo); but of course hecould not give life to convictions he did not feel. The human instinct for something largerthan an intense, intimate bond, the instinct for community, is entirely absent in Lawrence,and this absence helps to account for the wildness of his characters emotions. (Theirpassionate narrowness is especially evident when contrasted with the tolerance of acharacter like Leopold Bloom of Ulysses. Leopold thinks wistfully of his wife, but he thinksalso of innumerable other people, men and women both, the living and the dead; he is aman of the city who is stirred by the myriad trivial excitements of Dublin—an adventurerwrit small, but not contemptible in Joyces eyes. His obsessions are comically perverse, hisstratagems pathetic. Acceptance by Simon Dedalus and his friends would mean a great dealto poor Bloom, but of course this acceptance will be withheld; he yearns for community butis denied it.)For the sake of argument Gudrun challenges Ursulas conviction that one can achieve anew space to be in, apart from the old: ―But dont you think youll want the old connectionwith the world—father and the rest of us, and all that it means, England and the world ofthought—dont you think youll need that, really to make a world?‖ But Ursula speaks forLawrence in denying all inevitable social and familial connections. ―One has a sort of otherself, that belongs to a new planet, not to this,‖ she says. The disagreement marks the sistersbreak with each other; after this heated discussion they are no longer friends. Gudrunmocks the lovers with her false enthusiasm and deeply insults Ursula. ―Go and find yournew world, dear. After all, the happiest voyage is the quest of Ruperts Blessed Isles.‖Lawrences utopian plans for Rananim aside, it seems obvious that he could not have beentruly interested in establishing a community of any permanence, for such a communitywould have necessitated a connection between one generation and the next. It would havedemanded that faith in a reality beyond the individual and the individuals impulses whichis absent in Lawrence—not undeveloped so much as simply absent, undiscovered. For thisreason alone he seems to us distinctly unEnglish in any traditional sense. Fielding andThackeray and Trollope and Dickens and Eliot and Hardy and Bennett belong to anotherworld, another consciousness entirely. (Lawrences kinship with Pater and Wilde, hispredilection for the intensity of the moment, may have stimulated him to a vigorousglorification of Nietzschean instinct and will to power as a means of resisting aestheticism:for there is a languid cynicism about Birkin not unlike that of Wildes prematurely wearyheroes.)Halfway around the world, in Australia, Richard Somers discovers that he misses England,for it isnt freedom but mere vacancy he finds in this new, disturbingly beautiful world: theabsence of civilization, of culture, of inner meaning; the absence of spirit. But so long asLawrence is in England he evokes the idea of his nation only to do battle with it, to refute it,to be nauseated by it. The upper classes are sterile and worthless, the working classes arestunted aborigines who stare after the Brangwen sisters in the street. Halliday and hisLondon friends are self-consciously decadent—―the most pettifogging calculating Bohemiathat ever reckoned its pennies.‖ Only in the mythical structure of a fabulist work like TheEscaped Cock can Lawrence imagine a harmonious relationship between male and female,yet even here in this Mediterranean setting the individual cannot tolerate other people, nor
they him: ―the little life of jealousy and property‖ resumes its sway and forces the man whodied to flee. There is, however, no possibility of a tragic awareness in these terms; it is nottragic that the individual is compelled to break with his nation and his community becauseany unit larger than the individual is tainted and suspect, caught in the downward processof corruption. The community almost by definition is degraded. About this everyone is inagreement—Clifford Chatterley as well as Mellors, Hermione as well as Ursula andGudrun. Community in the old sense is based on property and possessions and must berejected, and all human relationships not founded upon an immediate emotional rapportmust be broken. ―The old ideals are dead as nails—nothing there,‖ Birkin says earlyin Women in Love. ―It seems to me there remains only this perfect union with a woman—sort of ultimate marriage—and there isnt anything else.‖ Gerald, however, finds it difficultto agree. Making ones life up out of a woman, one woman only, seems to him impossible,just as the forging of an intense love-connection with another man—which in Lawrencescosmology would have saved his life—is impossible.―I only feel what I feel,‖ Gerald says.The core of our human tragedy has very little to do with society, then, and everything to dowith the individual: with the curious self-destructive condition of the human spirit. Havingrejected the theological dogma of original sin, Lawrence develops a rather similarpsychological dogma to account for the diabolic split within the individual between thedictates of ―mind-consciousness‖ and the impulses of ―blood-consciousness.‖ In his essayon Nathaniel Hawthorne in Studies in Classic American Literature, he interprets The ScarletLetter as an allegory, a typically American allegory, of the consequences of the violentantagonism between the two ways of being. His explicitness is helpful in terms of Women inLove, where a rich verbal texture masks a tragically simple paradox. The cross itself is thesymbol of mankinds self-division, as it is the symbol, the final haunting image, in GeraldCrichs life. (Fleeing into the snow, exhausted and broken after his ignoble attempt tostrangle Gudrun, Gerald comes upon a half-buried crucifix at the top of a pole. He fearsthat someone is going to murder him. In terror he realizes ―This was the moment when thedeath was up-lifted, and there was no escape. Lord Jesus, was it then bound to be— LordJesus! He could feel the blow descending, he knew he was murdered.‖)Christs agony on the cross symbolizes our human agony at having acquired, or havingbeen poisoned by, the ―sin‖ of knowledge and self-consciousness. In the Hawthorne essayLawrence says:Nowadays men do hate the idea of dualism. Its no good, dual we are. The cross. If weaccept the symbol, then, virtually we accept the fact. We are divided against ourselves.For instance, the blood hates being KNOWN by the mind. It feels itself destroyed when it isKNOWN. Hence the profound instinct of privacy.And on the other hand, the mind and the spiritual consciousness of man simply hates thedark potency of blood-acts: hates the genuine dark sensual orgasms, which do, for the timebeing, actually obliterate the mind and the spiritual consciousness, plunge them in asuffocating flood of darkness.You cant get away from this.Blood-consciousness overwhelms, obliterates, and annuls mind-consciousness.Mind-consciousness extinguishes blood-consciousness, and consumes the blood.We are all of us conscious in both ways. And the two ways are antagonistic in us.
They will always remain so.That is our cross.It is obvious that Lawrence identifies with the instinct toward formal allegory andsubterfuge in American literature. He understands Hawthorne, Melville, and Poe from theinside; it is himself he speaks of when he says of Poe that he adventured into the vaults andcellars and horrible underground passages of the human soul, desperate to experience the―prismatic ecstasy‖ of heightened consciousness and of love. And Poe knew himself to bedoomed, necessarily—as Lawrence so frequently thought himself (and his race). Indeed,Poe is far closer to Lawrence than Hawthorne or Melville:He died wanting more love, and love killed him. A ghastly disease, love. Poe telling us of hisdisease: trying even to make his disease fair and attractive. Even succeeding. Which is theinevitable falseness, duplicity of art, American art in particular.The inevitable duplicity of art: an eccentric statement from the man who says, elsewhere (inan essay on Walt Whitman), that the essential function of art is moral. ―Not aesthetic, notdecorative, not pastime and recreation. But moral.‖ Yet it is possible to see that the artisttoo suffers from a tragic self-division, that he is forced to dramatize the radically newshifting over of consciousness primarily in covert, even occult and deathly terms: wantingto write a novel of consummate health and triumph whose controlling symbol is therainbow, writing in fact a despairing, floridly tragic and rather mad work that resemblespoetry and music (Wagnerian music) far more than it resembles the clearly ―moral‖ brightbook of life that is the novel, Lawrence finds himself surprised and disturbed by theapocalyptic nature of this greatest effort, as if he had imagined he had written somethingquite different. The rhythm of Lawrences writing is that of the American works heanalyzes so irreverently and so brilliantly, a ―disintegrating and sloughing of the oldconsciousness‖ and ―the forming of a new consciousness underneath.‖ Such apocalypticbooks must be written because old things need to die, because the ―old white psyche has tobe gradually broken down before anything else can come to pass‖ (in the essay on Poe).Such art must be violent, it must be outlandish and diabolic at its core because it isrevolutionary in the truest sense of the word. It is subversive, even traitorous; but though itseeks to overturn empires, its primary concerns are prophetic, even religious. As Lawrencesays in the poem ―Nemesis‖ (from Pansies), ―If we do not rapidly open all the doors ofconsciousness / and freshen the putrid little space in which we are cribbed / the sky-bluewalls of our unventilated heaven / will be bright red with blood.‖ In any case the true artistdoes not determine the direction of his art; he surrenders his ego so that his deeper selfmay be heard. There is no freedom except in compliance with the spirit within, whatLawrence calls the Holy Ghost.The suppressed Prologue to Women in Love sets forth the terms of Birkins torment withdramatic economy. ―Mind-consciousness‖ and ―blood-consciousness‖ are not mereabstractions, pseudo-philosophical notions, but bitterly existential ways of perceiving andof being. When Birkin and Gerald Crich first meet they experience a subtle bond betweeneach other, a ―sudden connection‖ that is intensified during a mountain-climbing trip inthe Tyrol. In the isolation of the rocks and snow they and their companion attain a raresort of intimacy that is to be denied and consciously rejected when they descend again into
their unusual lives. (The parallel with Geralds death in the snow is obvious; bysuppressing the Prologue and beginning with the chapter we have, ―Sisters,‖ in whichUrsula and Gudrun discuss marriage and the home and the mining town and venture outto watch the wedding, Lawrence sacrificed a great deal. ―Sisters‖ is an entirely satisfactoryopening, brilliant in its own lavish way; but the Prologue with its shrill, tender, almostcrazed language is far more moving.)Preliminary to the action of Women in Love, and unaccountable in terms of TheRainbow, which centers so exclusively upon Ursula, is the passionate and undeclaredrelationship between Birkin and Gerald, and the tortured split between Birkins spiritualand ―sisterly‖ love for Hermione and his ―passion of desire‖ for Gerald. Birkin is sickenedby his obsession with Gerald; he is repulsed by his overwrought, exclusively mentalrelationship with Hermione (which is, incidentally, very close to the relationship of sheernerves Lawrence discusses in his essay on Poe: the obscene love that is the ―intensestnervous vibration of unison‖ without any erotic consummation). That Birkins dilemma isemblematic of societys confusion in general is made clear, and convincing, by hisimmersion in educational theory. What is education except the gradual and deliberatebuilding up of consciousness, unit by unit? Each unit of consciousness is the ―living unit ofthat great social, religious, philosophic idea towards which mankind, like an organismseeking its final form, is laboriously growing,‖ but the tragic paradox is that there is nogreat unifying idea at the present time; there is simply aimless, futile activity. For we are inthe autumn of civilization, and decay, as such, cannot be acknowledged. As Birkin suffersin his awareness of his own deceitful, frustrated life, he tries to forget himself in work; buthe cannot escape a sense of the futility to all attempts at ―social constructiveness.‖ The toneof the Prologue is dark indeed, and one hears Lawrences undisguised despair in every line:How to get away from this process of reduction, how escape this phosphorescent passageinto the tomb, which was universal though unacknowledged, this was the unconsciousproblem which tortured Birkin day and night. He came to Hermione, and found with herthe pure, translucent regions of death itself, of ecstasy. In the world the autumn itself wassetting in. What should a man add himself on to? — to science, to social reform, toaestheticism, to sensationalism? The whole worlds constructive activity was a fiction, a lie,to hide the great process of decomposition, which had set in. What then to adhere to?He attempts a physical relationship with Hermione which is a cruel failure, humiliating tothem both. He goes in desperation to prostitutes. Like Paul Morel he suffers a familiar splitbetween the ―spiritual‖ woman and the ―physical‖ woman, but his deeper anxiety lies in hisunacknowledged passion for Gerald Crich. Surely homoerotic yearning has never been sovividly and so sympathetically presented as it is in Lawrences Prologue, where Birkinsintelligent complexity, his half-serious desire to rid himself of his soul in order to escape hispredicament, and his fear of madness and dissolution as a consequence of his lovelessnessgive him a tragic depth comparable to Hamlets. He wants to love women, just as he wantsto believe in the worlds constructive activity; but how can a man create his own feelings?Birkin knows that he cannot: he can only suppress them by an act of sheer will. In dangerof going mad or of dying—of possibly killing himself— Birkin continues his deathlyrelationship with Hermione, keeping his homoerotic feelings to himself and even, in a sense,secret from himself. With keen insight Lawrence analyzes Birkins own analysis of the
situation. ―He knew what he felt, but he always kept the knowledge at bay. His a prioriwere: I should not feel like this, and It is the ultimate mark of my own deficiency, that Ifeel like this. Therefore though he admitted everything, he never really faced the question.He never accepted the desire, and received it as part of himself. He always tried to keep itexpelled from him.‖ Not only does Birkin attempt to dissociate himself from an impulsethat is himself, he attempts to deny the femaleness in his own nature by objectifying (anddegrading) it in his treatment of Hermione and of the ―slightly bestial‖ prostitutes. Itmaddens him that he should feel sexual attraction for the male physique while for thefemale he is capable of feeling only a kind of fondness, a sacred love, as if for a sister. ―Thewomen he seemed to be kin to, he looked for the soul in them.‖ By the age of thirty he issickly and dissolute, attached to Hermione in a loveless, sadistic relationship, terrified ofbreaking with her for fear of falling into the abyss. Yet the break is imminent, inevitable—so the action of Women in Love begins.A tragedy, then, of an informal nature, experimental in its gropings toward a resolution ofthe central crisis: how to integrate the male and female principles, how to integrate theorganic and the ―civilized,‖ the relentlessly progressive condition of the modern world. It isnot enough to be a child of nature, to cling to ones ignorance as if it were a form ofblessedness; one cannot deny the reality of the external world, its gradual transformationfrom the Old England into the New, into an enthusiastic acceptance of the individual as aninstrument in the great machine of society. When Hermione goes into her rhapsody aboutspontaneity and the instincts, echoing Birkin in saying that the mind is death, hecontradicts her brutally by claiming that the problem is not that people have too muchmind, but too little. As for Hermione herself, she is merely making words becauseknowledge means everything to her: ―Even your animalism, you want it in your head. Youdont want to be an animal, you want to observe your own animal functions, to get a mentalthrill out of them. . . . What is it but the worst and last form of intellectualism, this love ofyours for passion and the animal instincts?‖ But it is really himself he is attacking:Hermione is a ghastly form of himself he would like to destroy, a parody of a woman, asister of his soul.Women in Love must have originally been imagined as Birkins tragedy rather thanGeralds, for though Gerald feels an attraction for Birkin, he is not so obsessed with it asBirkin is; in the Prologue he is characterized as rather less intelligent, less shrewd, than heturns out to be in subsequent chapters. Ursulas role in saving Birkin from dissolution is,then, far greater than she can know. Not only must she arouse and satisfy his spiritualyearnings, she must answer to his physical desire as well: she must, in a sense, take on theactive, masculine role in their relationship. (Significantly, it is Ursula who presses them intoan erotic relationship after the death of Diana Crich and her young man. It is she whoembraces Birkin tightly, wanting to show him that she is no shallow prude, and though hewhimpers to himself, ―Not this, not this,‖ he nevertheless succumbs to desire for her andthey become lovers. Had Ursula not sensed the need to force Birkin into a physicalrelationship, it is possible their love would have become as spiritualized, and consequentlyas poisoned, as Birkins and Hermiones.) Ursulas role in saving Birkin from destruction iscomparable to Sonias fairly magical redemption of Raskolnikov in Crime andPunishment, just as Geralds suicide is comparable to Svidrigaylovs when both men aredenied salvation through women by whom they are obsessed. Though the feminineprinciple is not sufficient to guarantee eternal happiness, it is nevertheless the way through
which salvation is attained: sex is an initiation in Lawrence, a necessary and evenritualisticevent in the process of psychic wholeness. Where in more traditional tragedy—Shakespeares King Lear comes immediately to mind—it is the feminine, irrational, ―darkand vicious‖ elements that must be resisted, since they disturb the status quo, thepatriarchal cosmos, in Lawrence it is precisely the darkness, the passion, the mind-obliterating, terrible, and even vicious experience of erotic love that is necessary forsalvation. The individual is split and wars futilely against himself, civilization is split andmust fall into chaos if male and female principles are opposed. Lawrences is the sounderpsychology, but it does not follow that his world view is more optimistic, for to recognize atruth does not inevitably bring with it the moral strength to realize that truth in ones life.Birkins desire for an eternal union with another man is thwarted in Women in Love, andhis failure leads indirectly to Geralds death. At least this is Birkins conviction. ―He shouldhave loved me,‖ he says to Ursula and she, frightened, replies without sympathy, ―Whatdifference would it have made!‖ It is only in a symbolic dimension that the men are lovers;consciously, in the daylight world, they are never anything more than friends. In thechapter ―Gladiatorial‖ the men wrestle together in order to stir Gerald from his boredom,and they seem to ―drive their white flesh deeper and deeper against each other, as if theywould break into a oneness.‖ The effort is such that both men lose consciousness andBirkin falls over Gerald, involuntarily. When their minds are gone their opposition to eachother is gone and they can become united—but only temporarily, only until Birkin regainshis consciousness and moves away. At the novels conclusion Birkin is ―happily‖ married,yet incomplete. He will be a reasonably content and normal man, a husband to thepassionate Ursula, yet unfulfilled; and one cannot quite believe that his frustrated love forGerald will not surface in another form. His failure is not merely his own but civilizationsas well: male and female are inexorably opposed, the integration of the two halves of thehuman soul is an impossibility in our time.Hence the cruel frost-knowledge of Women in Love, the death by perfect cold Lawrence hasdelineated. Long before Geralds actual death in the mountains Birkin speculates on him asa strange white wonderful demon from the north, fated like his civilization to pass awayinto universal dissolution, the day of ―creative life‖ being finished. In Apocalypse Lawrencespeaks of the long slow death of the human being in our time, the victory of repressive andmechanical forces over the organic, the pagan. The mystery religions of antiquity havebeen destroyed by the systematic, dissecting principle; the artist is driven as a consequenceto think in deliberately mythical, archaic, chiliastic terms. How to express theinexpressible? Those poems in Pansies that address themselves to the problem—poems like―Wellsian Futures,‖ ―Dead People,‖ ―Ego-Bound,‖ ―Climb Down, O Lordly Mind,‖ ―Peaceand War‖—are rhetorical and strident and rather flat; it is in images thatLawrence thinks most clearly. He is too brilliant an artist not to breathe life even into thosecharacters who are in opposition to his own principles. In a statement that resemblesYeatss (that the occult spirits of A Vision came to bring him images for his poetry)Lawrence indicates a surprising indifference to the very concept of the Apocalypse itself:―We do not care, vitally, about theories of the Apocalypse. . . . What we care about is therelease of the imagination. . . . What does the Apocalypse matter, unless in so far as it givesus imaginative release into another vital world?‖This jaunty attitude is qualified by the images that are called forth by the imagination,however: the wolfishness of Gerald and his mother; the ghoulishness of the Beldover
miners; the African totems (one has a face that is void and terrible in its mindlessness; theother has a long, elegant body with a tiny head, a face crushed small like a beetles);Hermione striking her lover with a paperweight of lapis lazuli and fairly swooning withecstasy; Gerald digging his spurs into his mares sides, into wounds that are alreadybleeding; the drowned Diana Crich with her arms still wrapped tightly about the neck ofher young man; the demonic energy of Winifreds rabbit, and Gudruns slashed, bleedingarm which seems to tear across Geralds brain; the uncanny, terrifying soullessness ofInnsbruck; the stunted figure of the artist Loerke; the final vision of Gerald as the frozencarcass of a dead male. These are fearful images, and what has Lawrence to set againstthem but the embrace of a man and a woman, a visionary transfiguration of the individualby love?—and even the experience of love, of passion and unity, is seen as ephemeral.Birkin sees Gerald and Gudrun as flowers of dissolution, locked in the death-process; hecannot help but see Gerald as Cain, who killed his brother. Though in one way Women inLove is a naturalistic work populated with realistic characters and set in altogetherprobable environments, in another way it is inflexible and even rather austerely classical:Gerald is Cain from the very first and his fate is settled. Birkin considers his friendsaccidental killing of his brother and wonders if it is proper to think in terms of accident atall. Has everything that happens a universal significance? Ultimately he does not believethat there is anything accidental in life: ―it all hung together, in the deepest sense.‖ (And itfollows that no one is murdered accidentally: ―. . . a man who is murderable is a man whoin a profound if hidden lust desires to be murdered.‖) Gerald plainly chooses his murdererin Gudrun, and it is in the curious, misshapen form of Loerke that certain of Geraldsinclinations are given their ultimate realization. Geralds glorification of the machine andof himself as a god of the machine is parodied by Loerkes inhuman willfulness: Gudrunsees him as the rock-bottom of all life. Unfeeling, stoic, he cares about nothing except hiswork, he makes not the slightest attempt to be at one with anything, he exists a ―pure,unconnected will‖ in a stunted body. His very being excites Gerald to disgusted furybecause he is finally all that Gerald has imagined for himself—the subordination of allspontaneity, the triumph of ―harmony‖ in industrial organization.Of the bizarre nightmare images stirred in Lawrences imagination by the idea of theApocalypse, Loerke is perhaps the most powerful. He is at once very human, and quiteinhuman. He is reasonable, even rather charming, and at the same time deathly—a ―mud-child,‖ a creature of the underworld. His name suggests that of Loki, the Norse god ofdiscord and mischief, the very principle of dissolution. A repulsive and fascinatingcharacter, he is described by Lawrence as a gnome, a bat, a rabbit, a troll, a chatterer, amagpie, a maker of disturbing jokes, with the blank look of inorganic misery behind hisbuffoonery. That he is an artist, and a homosexual as well, cannot be an accident. He is inLawrences imagination the diabolic alter ego who rises up to mock all that Lawrence takesto be sacred. Hence his uncanny power, his parodistic talent: he accepts the hypothesis thatindustry has replaced religion and he accepts his role as artist in terms of industry, withoutsentimental qualms. Art should interpret industry; the artist fulfills himself in acquiescenceto the machine. Is there nothing apart from work, mechanical work? — Gudrun asks. Andhe says without hesitation, ―Nothing but work!‖Loerke disgusts Birkin and Gerald precisely because he embodies certain of their owntraits. He is marvelously self-sufficient; he wishes to ingratiate himself with no one; he is anartist who completely understands and controls his art; he excites the admiration of the
beautiful Gudrun, and even Ursula is interested in him for a while. Most painful, perhaps,is his homosexuality. He is not divided against himself, not at all tortured by remorse orconscience. In the Prologue to the novel Birkin half-wishes he might rid himself of his soul,and Loerke is presented as a creature without a soul, one of the ―little people‖ who finds hismate in a human being. It is interesting to note that the rat-like qualities in Loerke arethose that have attracted Birkin in other men: Birkin has felt an extraordinary desire tocome close to and to know and ―as it were to eat‖ a certain type of Cornish man with dark,fine, stiff hair and dark eyes like holes in his head or like the eyes of a rat (see thePrologue); and he has felt the queer, subterranean, repulsive beauty of a young man withan indomitable manner ―like a quick, vital rat‖ (see the chapter ―A Chair‖). TheNietzschean quality of Loerkes haughtiness and his loathing of other people, particularlywomen, remind us of the aristocratic contempt expressed by the middle-aged foreignerwhom Tom Brangwen admires so much in the first chapter of The Rainbow:the man has aqueer monkeyish face that is in its way almost beautiful, he is sardonic, dry-skinned, coldlyintelligent, mockingly courteous to the women in his company (one of whom has made lovewith Tom previously), a creature who strangely rouses Toms blood and who, in the formof Anna Lensky, will be his mate. There is no doubt but that Lawrence, a very differentphysical type, and temperamentally quite opposed to the cold, life-denying principle thesemen embody, was nevertheless powerfully attracted by them. There is an irresistible life toLoerke that makes us feel the strength of his nihilistic charm.Surely not accidental is the fact that Loerke is an artist. He expresses a view of art that allartists share, to some extent, despite their protestations to the contrary. It is Flaubertspeaking in Loerke, declaring art supreme and the artists life of little consequence; whenLoerke claims that his statuette of a girl on a horse is no more than an artistic composition,a certain form without relation to anything outside itself, he is echoing Flaubertscontention that there is no such thing as a subject, there is only style. (―What seemsbeautiful to me, what I should like to write,‖ Flaubert said, in a remark now famous, ―is abook about nothing, a book dependent on nothing external. . . .‖) Loerke angers Ursula bydeclaring that his art pictures nothing, ―absolutely nothing,‖ there is no connectionbetween his art and the everyday world, they are two different and distinct planes ofexistence, and she must not confuse them. In his disdainful proclamation of an art thatrefers only to itself, he speaks for the aesthetes of the nineteenth century against whomLawrence had to define himself as a creator of vital, moral, life-enhancing art. ThoughLawrence shared certain of their beliefs—that bourgeois civilization was bankrupt, that themass of human beings was hopelessly ignorant and contemptible—he did not want to alignhimself with their extreme rejection of ―ordinary‖ life and of nature itself. (Too unbridleda revulsion against the world would lead one to the sinister self-indulgent fantasies ofcertain of the decadent poets and artists—the bizarre creations of Oscar Wilde andHuysmans and Baudelaire, and of Gustave Moreau and Odilon Redon and Jan Tooropamong others.) Loerkes almost supernatural presence drives Ursula and Birkin away, andbrings to the surface the destructive elements in the love of Gudrun and Gerald. He is anartist of decay: his effect upon Gudrun is like that of a subtle poison.―Life doesnt really matter,‖ Gudrun says. ―It is ones art which is central.‖Symbolically, then, Gerald witnesses the destruction of his love, or of a part of his own soul,by those beliefs that had been a kind of religion to him in his operating of the mines.Lawrence himself plays with certain of his worst fears by giving them over to Loerke and
Gudrun, who toy with them, inventing for their amusement a mocking dream of thedestruction of the world: humanity invents a perfect explosive that blows up the world,perhaps; or the climate shifts and the world goes cold and snow falls everywhere and ―onlywhite creatures, polar-bears, white foxes, and men like awful white snow-birds, persisted inice cruelty.‖ It is Lawrences nightmare, the Apocalypse without resurrection, withoutmeaning; a vision as bleak and as tragically unsentimental as Shakespeares.Only in parable, in myth, can tragedy be transcended. In that beautiful novella TheEscaped Cock, written while Lawrence was dying, the Christian and the pagan mate, themale and the female come together in a perfect union, and the process of dissolution ishalted. . . . Poetic, Biblical in its rhythms, The Escaped Cock is an extraordinary work inthat it dramatizes Lawrences own sense of resurrection from near death (he had comeclose to dying several times) and that it repudiates his passion for changing the world. . . .Simply to live in a body, to live as a mortal human being—this is enough, and this iseverything. Only a man who had come close to dying himself and who had despaired of hisefforts to transform the human world could have written a passage like this, in awedcelebration of the wonders of the existential world:The man who had died looked nakedly onto life, and saw a vast resoluteness everywhereflinging itself up in stormy or subtle wave-crests, foam-tips emerging out of the blueinvisible, a black-and-orange cock, or the green flame tongues out of the extremes of thefig-tree. They came forth, these things and creatures of spring, glowing with desire andwith assertion. . . . The man who had died looked on the great swing into existence of thingsthat had not died, but he saw no longer their tremulous desire to exist and to be. He heardinstead their ringing, defiant challenge to all other things existing. . . . And always, the manwho had died saw not the bird alone, but the short, sharp wave of life of which the bird wasthe crest. He watched the queer, beaky motion of the creature. . . .And the destiny of life seemed more fierce and compulsive to him even than the destiny ofdeath.The man who had died asks himself this final question: From what, and to what, could thisinfinite whirl be saved?The mystic certitude of The Escaped Cock, like the serenity of ―The Ship of Death‖ and―Bavarian Gentians,‖ belongs to a consciousness has transcended the dualism of tragedy.The split has not been healed, it has simply been transcended; nearing death, Lawrenceturns instinctively to the allegorical mode, the most primitive and the most sophisticated ofall visionary expressions. Women in Love is, by contrast, irresolute and contradictory; itoffers only the finite, tentative ―resurrection‖ of marriage between two very incompletepeople. Like Connie Chatterley and her lover Mellors, the surviving couple of Women inLove must fashion their lives in a distinctly unmythic, unidyllic landscape, their fates to bebound up closely with that of their civilization. How are we to escape history?—defy thedeath-process of our culture? With difficulty. In sorrow. So long as we live, evenstrengthened as we are by the ―mystic conjunction,‖ the ―ultimate unison‖ between menand women, our lives are tempered by the ungovernable contingencies of the world that isno metaphor, but our only home.
Foreword by D. H. LawrenceThis novel was written in its first form in the Tyrol, in 1913. It was altogetherrewritten and finished in Cornwall in 1917. So that it is a novel which took itsfinal shape in the midst of the period of war, though it does not concern the waritself. I should wish the time to remain unfixed, so that the bitterness of the warmay be taken for granted in the characters.The book has been offered to various London publishers. Their almost inevitablereply has been: ―We should like very much to publish, but feel we cannot risk aprosecution.‖ They remember the fate of The Rainbow, and are cautious. Thisbook is a potential sequel to The Rainbow.In England, I would never try to justify myself against any accusation. But to theAmericans, perhaps I may speak for myself. I am accused, in England, ofuncleanness and pornography. I deny the charge, and take no further notice.In America the chief accusation seems to be one of ―Eroticism.‖ This is odd,rather puzzling to my mind. Which Eros? Eros of the jaunty ―amours,‖ or Erosof the sacred mysteries? And if the latter, why accuse, why not respect, evenvenerate?Let us hesitate no longer to announce that the sensual passions and mysteries areequally sacred with the spiritual mysteries and passions. Who would deny it anymore? The only thing unbearable is the degradation, the prostitution of the livingmysteries in us. Let man only approach his own self with a deep respect, evenreverence for all that the creative soul, the God-mystery within us, puts forth.Then we shall all be sound and free. Lewdness is hateful because it impairs ourintegrity and our proud being.The creative, spontaneous soul sends forth its promptings of desire andaspiration in us. These promptings are our true fate, which is our business tofulfil. A fate dictated from outside, from theory or from circumstance, is a falsefate.This novel pretends only to be a record of the writers own desires, aspirations,struggles; in a word, a record of the profoundest experiences in the self. Nothingthat comes from the deep, passional soul is bad, or can be bad. So there is noapology to tender, unless to the soul itself, if it should have been belied.Man struggles with his unborn needs and fulfilment. New unfoldings struggle upin torment in him, as buds struggle forth from the midst of a plant. Any man of
real individuality tries to know and to understand what is happening, even inhimself, as he goes along. This struggle for verbal consciousness should not beleft out in art. It is a very great part of life. It is not superimposition of a theory.It is the passionate struggle into conscious being.We are now in a period of crisis. Every man who is acutely alive is acutelywrestling with his own soul. The people that can bring forth the new passion, thenew idea, this people will endure. Those others, that fix themselves in the oldidea, will perish with the new life strangled unborn within them. Men must speakout to one another.In point of style, fault is often found with the continual, slightly modifiedrepetition. The only answer is that it is natural to the author; and that everynatural crisis in emotion or passion or understanding comes from this pulsing,frictional to-and-fro which works up to culmination.Hermitage12 September, 1919 COMMENTARY by CARL VAN DOREN REBECCA WEST ALDOUS HUXLEY HENRY MILLER CARL VAN DORENThe hunger of sex is amazingly and appallingly set forth by D. H. Lawrence, whosenovel The Rainbow was suppressed in England and who has now brought out his Women inLove in the United States in a sumptuous volume delightful to eye and hand. Mr. Lawrenceadmits no difference between Aphrodite Urania and Aphrodite Pandemos; love, in hisunderstanding of it, links soul and body with the same bonds at the same moments. And inthis latest book of his not only is there but one Aphrodite; there is but one ruling divinity,and she holds her subjects throughout a long narrative to the adventure and business andmadness and warfare of love. Apparently resident in the English Midlands, Gudrun andUrsula Brangwen and their lovers Rupert Birkin and Gerald Crich actually inhabit somedark wood sacred to Dionysiac rites. If they have an economic existence, it is of the most
unimportant kind; at any moment they can come and go about the world as their desiresdrive them. If they have any social existence, it is tenuous, or at best hardly thicker than atissue of irritations. War and politics and art and religion for the time being are as if theyhad never been. Each pair of lovers recalls those sundered lovers of whom Aristophanestold the guests at Platos Symposium—lovers who, in reality but halves of a primordialwhole, whirl through space and time in a frantic search each for its opposite, mad withdelay, and meeting at last with a frantic rush which takes no account of anything but theecstasy of reunion.If references to Greek cults come naturally to mind in connection with Women inLove, these lovers none the less have the modern experience of frantic reaction from theirmoments of meeting. They experience more than classical satiety. Mad with love in onehour, in the next they are no less mad with hate. They are souls born flayed, who clingtogether striving to become one flesh and yet causing each other exquisite torture. Theirnerves are all exposed. The intangible filaments and repulsions which play betweenordinary lovers are by Mr. Lawrence in this book magnified to dimensions half heroic andhalf mad. He has stripped off the daily coverings, the elaborated inhibitions, the establishedreticences of our civil existence, and displays his women as swept and torn by desires as oldas the race and older, white-hot longings, dark confusions of body and spirit. Gudrun andUrsula are women not to be matched elsewhere in English fiction for richness and candorof desire. They are valkyries imperfectly domesticated, or, in Mr. Lawrences differentfigure, daughters of men troubling the sons of God, and themselves troubled. No wonderthen that the language which tells their story is a feverish language; that the narrativemoves with a feverish march; that the final effect is to leave the witness of their fate dazedwith the blazing mist which overhangs the record. Most erotic novels belong to thedepartment of comedy; Women in Love belongs to the metaphysics and the mysticaltheology of love.From The Nation, January 26, 1921 REBECCA WESTMany of us are cleverer than Mr. D. H. Lawrence and nearly all of us save anincarcerated few are much saner, but this does not affect the fact that he is agenius. It does, of course, affect the fact of his being an artist. Women in Love isflawed in innumerable places by Mr. Lawrences limitations and excesses. Hisgeneral ideas are poor and uncorrected, apparently, by any wide reading ormuch discussion; when he wants to represent Birkin, who is supposed to be thebrilliant thinker of the book, as confounding the shallow Hermione with hispower over reality, he puts into his mouth a collection of platitudes on the subjectof democracy which would have drawn nothing from any woman of thatintellectual level, except perhaps the remark that these things had been dealtwith more thoroughly by Havelock Ellis in his essay on the spheres ofindividualism and Socialism. He is madly irritable. . . . This is typical of Mr.Lawrences indifference to that quality of serenity which is the highest form of
decency. He thinks it natural that everybody should take their own GrandGuignol about with them in the form of an irritable nervous system and that itshould give continuous performances. This prejudices his work in two ways. Itmakes him represent the characters whom he wishes to be regarded as normal asexisting permanently in the throes of hyperaesthesia. When Gerald Crich andGudrun stay in London on their way to the Tyrol, her reactions to London,which she does not appear to like, are so extreme that one anticipates that Geraldwill have to spend all his time abroad nursing her through a nervous breakdown,which is in fact not what happened. It also shatters the authors nerves so that hisfingers are often too clumsy and tremulous to deal with the subtleties which hismind insists on handing them as subjects. There is, for example, a scene in an innat Southwell, where Ursula has an extraordinary crisis of delight at somephysical aspect of Birkin. At first reading it appears that this is simply a sexualcrisis which Mr. Lawrence is describing according to his own well-worn formula,and one reflects with fatigue that Mr. Lawrences heroines suffer from moltenveins as inveterately as Sarah Gamp suffered from spasms, and that theydemand as insistently just a thimbleful of union with reality. But then if one is aconscientious reader one perceives that this is wrong. There is something else.Ursula seems to have caught sight of some physical oddity about him, to havenoticed for the first time that he was really Siamese twins. One thinks crossly,―Unobservant girl.‖ But if one has a decent sense of awe one realises that theauthor of Sons and Lovers is probably trying to say something worth hearing,and one reads it over again, and in the end perceives that Mr. Lawrence is simplytrying to convey that mystical sense of the sacredness of physical structure, quiteapart from its aesthetic or sexual significance, which is within the experience ofnearly all of us. Ursula, contemplating her lovers body, had a sudden realisationthat flesh is blessed above all other substances because it is informed by life, thatforce of which there is such a stupendous abundance on this earth, which hassuch divine attributes as will and consciousness, which has so dark a past and somysterious a future. It is a reasonable enough emotion but Mr. Lawrence is sonerve-shattered by these extravagant leaps, which suggest that somebody has lita little gunpowder under his sensorium, that he is unable to convey the spiritualincident save as a hot geyser of sensation.But Women in Love is a work of genius. It contains characters which aremasterpieces of pure creation. Birkin is not. The character whom an authordesigns as the mouthpiece of truth never is; always he is patronising andknowing, like ―Our London Correspondent‖ writing his weekly letter in aprovincial newspaper. . . . The persons who are most intimately concerned in thedevelopment of the main thesis of the book are not so satisfactory because thatthesis deals with love. It is in itself an excellent thesis. It is a stern answer to thehuman cry, ―I can endure the hatred the world bears me, and the hate I bear the
world, if only there is one whom I love and who loves me.‖ It declares: ―No, thatis not how it is. There shall be no one who loves you and no one whom you love,unless you first get in on loving terms with the world.‖ Gerald Crich refuses toenter into an alliance of friendship with Birkin. He, the materialist, has no usefor an expenditure of affection in a quarter where there is no chance of physicalpleasure, and stakes his all on his union with Gudrun. This concentration itselfwrecks that union. She finds him empty of everything but desire for her; he hashad no schooling in altruistic love; he does not help her out of her own fatigueddesire for corruption and decay, the peace of dissolution; and she breaks awayfrom him. Thereby, because he has staked everything on her, he is destroyed. Itis not really very abstruse, nor very revolutionary, nor very morbid. In Antonyand Cleopatra Shakespeare permitted himself to say much the same sort of thingabout the quality of love that arises between highly sexual people. But when Mr.Lawrence writes of love he always spoils his matter by his violent style. In anexquisite phrase Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy once remarked that the purpose of therelationship between the sexes is to ―happify existence.‖ There are times whenMr. Lawrence writes as if he thought its purpose was to give existence a blackeye. His lovers are the Yahoos of Eros, and though Beauty may be in their spirits,it is certainly not in their manners. This is not represented as incidental to theircharacters, but as a necessary condition of love. It is a real flaw in Mr.Lawrences temperament; but it is so marked and so apart from the rest of himthat it no more spoils the book than a crack in the canvas spoils a beautifulpicture. . . .From The New Statesman, July 9, 1921 ALDOUS HUXLEYIf we would write intelligibly of Lawrence, we must answer, with all theirimplications, two questions: first, what sort of gifts did he have? and secondly,how did the possession of these gifts affect the way he responded to experience?Lawrences special and characteristic gift was an extraordinary sensitiveness towhat Wordsworth called unknown modes of being. He was always intenselyaware of the mystery of the world, and the mystery was always for hima numen, divine. Lawrence could never forget, as most of us almost continuouslyforget, the dark presence of the otherness that lies beyond the boundaries ofmans conscious mind. This special sensibility was accompanied by a prodigiouspower of rendering the immediately experienced otherness in terms of literaryart.Such was Lawrences peculiar gift. His possession of it accounts for many things.
It accounts, to begin with, for his attitude towards sex. His particular experiencesas a son and as a lover may have intensified his preoccupation with the subject;but they certainly did not make it. Whatever his experiences,Lawrence must have been preoccupied with sex; his gift made it inevitable. ForLawrence, the significance of the sexual experience was this: that, in it, theimmediate, nonmental knowledge of divine otherness is brought, so to speak, to afocus—a focus of darkness.For someone with a gift for sensing the mystery of otherness, true love mustnecessarily be, in Lawrences vocabulary, nocturnal. So must true knowledge.Nocturnal and tactual—a touching in the night. Man inhabits, for his ownconvenience, a home-made universe within the greater alien world of externalmatter and his own irrationality. Out of the illimitable blackness of that worldthe light of his customary thinking scoops, as it were, a little illuminated cave—atunnel of brightness, in which, from the birth of consciousness to its death, helives, moves and has his being. For most of us this bright tunnel is the wholeworld. We ignore the outer darkness; or if we cannot ignore it, if it presses tooinsistently upon us, we disapprove, being afraid. Not so Lawrence. He had eyesthat could see, beyond the walls of light, far into the darkness, sensitive fingersthat kept him continually aware of the environing mystery. He could not becontent with the home-made, human tunnel, could not conceive that anyone elseshould be content with it. More-over— and in this he was unlike those others, towhom the worlds mystery is continuously present, the great philosophers andmen of science—he did not want to increase the illuminated area; he approved ofthe outer darkness, he felt at home in it. . . . Lawrence disapproved of too muchknowledge, on the score that it diminished mens sense of wonder and bluntedtheir sensitiveness to the great mystery. . . .Hence his aesthetic principle, that art must be wholly spontaneous, and, like theartist, imperfect, limited and transient. Hence, too, his ethical principle, that amans first moral duty is not to attempt to live above his human station, orbeyond his inherited psychological income.The great work of art and the monument more perennial than brass are, in theirvery perfection and everlastingness, inhuman—too much of a good thing.Lawrence did not approve of them. Art, he thought, should flower from animmediate impulse towards self-expression or communication, and should witherwith the passing of the impulse. Of all building materials Lawrence liked adobethe best; its extreme plasticity and extreme impermanence endeared it to him.There could be no everlasting pyramids in adobe, no mathematically accurateParthenons. Nor, thank heaven, in wood. Lawrence loved the Etruscans, amongother reasons, because they built wooden temples, which have not survived.Stone oppressed him with its indestructible solidity, its capacity to take andindefinitely keep the hard uncompromising forms of pure geometry. Great
buildings made him feel uncomfortable, even when they were beautiful. He feltsomething of the same discomfort in the presence of any highly finished work ofart. In music, for example, he liked the folk-song, because it was a slight thing,born of immediate impulse. The symphony oppressed him; it was too big, tooelaborate, too carefully and consciously worked out, too would-be—to use acharacteristic Lawrencian expression. He was quite determined that none of hiswritings should be would-be. He allowed them to flower as they liked from thedepths of his being and would never use his conscious intellect to force them intoa semblance of more than human perfection, or more than human universality. Itwas characteristic of him that he hardly ever corrected or patched what he hadwritten. I have often heard him say, indeed, that he was incapable of correcting.If he was dissatisfied with what he had written, he did not, as most authors do,file, clip, insert, transpose; he rewrote. In other words, he gavethe daimon another chance to say what it wanted to say. There are, I believe,three complete and totally distinct manuscripts of Lady Chatterleys Lover. Norwas this by any means the only novel that he wrote more than once. He wasdetermined that all he produced should spring direct from the mysterious,irrational source of power within him. The conscious intellect should never beallowed to come and impose, after the event, its abstract pattern of perfection.Lawrence certainly suffered his whole life from the essential solitude to which hisgift condemned him. . . . One has no real human relations: it is the complaint ofevery artist. The artists first duty is to his genius, his daimon; he cannot servetwo masters. Lawrence, as it happened, had an extraordinary gift forestablishing an intimate relationship with almost anyone he met. . . . His love forhis art was greater, however, than his love for a tangle [in other peoples lives];and when ever the tangle threatened to compromise his activities as an artist, itwas the tangle that was sacrificed: he retired. Lawrences only deep and abidinghuman relationship was with his wife. . . . How acutely he suffered from thisfreedom by which he lived! Kangaroo describes a later stage of the debatebetween the solitary artist and the man who wanted social responsibilities andcontact with the body of mankind. Lawrence, like the hero of his novel, decidedagainst contact. He was by nature not a leader of men, but a prophet, a voicecrying in the wilderness—the wilderness of his own isolation. The desert was hisplace, and yet he felt himself an exile in it.In a kind of despair, he plunged yet deeper into the surrounding mystery, intothe dark night of that otherness whose essence and symbol is the sexualexperience. In Lady Chatterleys Lover Lawrence wrote the epilogue to his travelsand, from his long and fruitless experience of flight and search, drew what was,for him, the inevitable moral. It is a strange and beautiful book; butinexpressibly sad. But then so, at bottom, was its authors life.
From ―D. H. Lawrence,‖ The Olive Tree and Other Essays, 1936 HENRY MILLERLawrences life and works represent a drama which centers about the attempt toescape a living death, a death which, if it were understood, would bring about arevolution in our way of living. Lawrence experienced this death creatively, andit is because of his unique experience that his ―failure‖ is of a wholly differentorder from that of Proust or Joyce. His aborted efforts towards self-realizationspeak of heroic struggle, and the results are fecundating—for those, at any rate,who may be called the ―aristocrats of the spirit.‖ . . .Lawrence killed himself in the effort to burst the bonds of living death. There isevidence for believing, if we study for example such a work as The Man WhoDied, that had it been given him to enjoy the normal span of life he would havearrived at a state of wisdom, a mystic way of life in which the artist and thehuman being would have been reconciled. Such men have indeed been rare in thecourse of our Western civilization. Whatever in the past may have operated toprevent our men of genius from attaining such a state of perfection we know thatin Lawrences case the poverty, the sterility of the cultural soil into which he wasborn, was certainly the death-dealing cause. Only a part of the mans naturesucceeded in blossoming—the rest of him was imprisoned and strangled in thedry walls of the womb.It is against the stagnant flux in which we are now drifting that Lawrenceappears brilliantly alive.From The Henry Miller Reader,