Lawrence, D(avid) H(erbert)
LAWRENCE, D(avid) H(erbert)
Nationality: English. Born: Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, 11 September 1885. Education: Nottingham High School, 1898-1901; University College, Nottingham (now University of Nottingham), 1906-08, teacher's certificate, 1908. Family: Eloped with Frieda von Richthofen Weekley in 1912, married in 1914. Career: Clerk for a firm of surgical appliance makers, Nottingham, 1901; pupil-teacher in Eastwood and Ilkeston, Nottinghamshire, 1902-06; teacher, Davidson Road School, Croydon, Surrey, 1908-12; full-time writer from 1912; lived in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, 1912-14, and in England, 1914-19; prosecuted for obscenity (The Rainbow), 1915; founder, with Katherine Mansfield, q.v., and John Middleton Murry, Signature magazine, 1916; lived in Florence, Capri, and Sicily, 1919-22; traveled to Ceylon and Australia, 1922; lived in the U.S. and Mexico, 1922-23; lived in England, France, and Germany, 1924; lived in New Mexico and Mexico, 1924-25; lived in Italy, 1925-28; lived in France, 1928-30; also a painter: one-man show, London, 1929 (closed by the police). Awards: James Tait Black Memorial prize, 1921. Died: 2 March 1930.
Complete Poems, edited by Vivian de Sola Pinto and WarrenRoberts. 2 vols., 1964.
Complete Plays. 1965.
A Selection, edited by R. H. Poole and P. J. Shepherd. 1970.
Selected Poems, edited by Keith Sagar. 1972; revised edition, asPoems, 1986.
Works (Cambridge Edition), edited by James T. Boulton and Warren Roberts. 1980—.
Complete Short Novels, edited by Keith Sagar and Melissa Partridge. 1982.
Selected Short Stories, edited by Brian Finney. 1982.
Three Complete Novels. 1993.
Twilight in Italy and Other Essays. 1994.
Selected Works. 1994.
The Prussian Officer and Other Stories. 1914.
England My England and Other Stories. 1922.
The Ladybird, The Fox, The Captain's Doll. 1923; as The Captain's Doll: Three Novelettes, 1923.
St. Mawr, Together with The Princess. 1925.
Sun (story). 1926; unexpurgated edition, 1928.
Glad Ghosts (story). 1926.
Rawdon's Roof (story). 1928.
The Woman Who Rode Away and Other Stories. 1928.
The Escaped Cock (novella). 1929; as The Man Who Died, 1931.
The Virgin and the Gipsy (novella). 1930.
The Lovely Lady. 1933.
A Modern Lover. 1934.
A Prelude (story). 1949.
Love among the Haystacks and Other Pieces. 1930.
The Princess and Other Stories, and The Mortal Coil and Other Stories, edited by Keith Sagar. 2 vols., 1971.
The White Peacock. 1911; edited by Harry T. Moore, 1966.
The Trespasser. 1912.
Sons and Lovers. 1913; edited by Julian Moynahan, 1968.
The Rainbow. 1915.
Women in Love. 1920.
The Lost Girl. 1920.
Aaron's Rod. 1922.
The Boy in the Bush, with M.L. Skinner. 1924.
The Plumed Serpent (Quetzalcoatl). 1926.
Lady Chatterley's Lover. 1928; The First Lady Chatterley (first version), 1944; La Tre Lady Chatterley (three versions), in Italian, 1954; unexpurgated edition, 1959; John Thomas and Lady Jane (second version). 1972; as Lady Chatterly's Lover: The Complete Text. 1993.
Mr. Noon, edited by Lindeth Vasey. 1984.
The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd (produced 1920). 1914.
Touch and Go (produced 1979). 1920.
David (produced 1927). 1926.
Keeping Barbara, in Argosy 14, December 1933.
A Collier's Friday Night (produced 1965). 1934.
The Daughter-in-Law (produced 1967). In Complete Plays, 1965.
The Fight for Barbara (produced 1967). In Complete Plays, 1965.
The Merry-Go-Round (produced 1973). In Complete Plays, 1965.
The Married Man, Altitude, and Noah's Flood, in Complete Plays. 1965.
Love Poems and Others. 1913.
Look! We Have Come Through! 1917.
New Poems. 1918.
Birds, Beasts, and Flowers. 1923.
Collected Poems. 2 vols., 1928.
The Triumph of the Machine. 1931.
Last Poems, edited by Richard Aldington and Giuseppe Orioli. 1932.
Fire and Other Poems. 1940.
Selected Poems. 1994.
Twilight in Italy. 1916.
Movements in European History. 1921; revised edition, 1926.
Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious. 1921.
Sea and Sardinia. 1921.
Fantasia of the Unconscious. 1922.
Studies in Classic American Literature. 1923; edited by ArminArnold, as The Symbolic Meaning: The Uncollected Versions, 1962.
Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays. 1925. Mornings in Mexico. 1927.
The Paintings of Lawrence. 1929.
My Skirmish with Jolly Roger (introduction to Lady Chatterley's Lover). 1929; as A propos of Lady Chatterley's Lover, 1930.
Pornography and Obscenity. 1929.
Assorted Articles. 1930.
Letters, edited by Aldous Huxley. 1932.
Etruscan Places. 1932.
We Need One Another. 1933.
Phoenix: The Posthumous Papers, edited by Edward D. McDonald. 1936.
Collected Letters, edited by Harry T. Moore. 2 vols., 1962.
The Paintings, edited by Mervyn Levy. 1964.
Phoenix II: Uncollected, Unpublished, and Other Prose Works, edited by Warren Roberts and Harry T. Moore. 1968.
Lawrence in Love: Letters to Louie Burrows, edited by James T. Boulton. 1968.
Centaur Letters, edited by Edward D. McDonald. 1970.
Letters to Martin Secker 1911-1930, edited by Martin Secker. 1970.
The Quest for Ranamin: Letters to S.S. Koteliansky 1914-1930, edited by G.J. Zytaruk. 1970.
Letters to Thomas and Adele Seltzer: Letters to His American Publishers, edited by Gerald M. Lacy. 1976.
Letters, edited by James T. Boulton. 1979—.
Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays, edited by BruceSteele. 1985.
Memoir of Maurice Magnus. 1987.
That Women Know Best. 1994.
The Selected Letters of D. H. Lawrence. 1997.
Translator, with S. S. Koteliansky, All Things Are Possible, by LeoShestov. 1920.
Translator, Mastro-Don Gesualdo, by Giovanni Verga. 1923.
Translator, Little Novels of Sicily, by Giovanni Verga. 1925.
Translator, Cavalleria Rusticana and Other Stories, by GiovanniVerga. 1928.
Translator, The Story of Doctor Manente, by A. F. Grazzini. 1929.
Translator, with S. S. Koteliansky, The Grand Inquisitor, by Dostoevskii. 1930.*
A Bibliography of Lawrence by Warren Roberts, 1963, revised 1982; Lawrence: A Bibliography by John E. Stoll, 1977; Lawrence: An Annotated Bibliography of Writings about Him by James C. Cowan, 2 vols., 1982-85; Lawrence: A Review of the Biographies and Literary Criticism by Jill M. Phillips, 1986.
Lawrence, 1930, Lawrence, Novelist, 1955, and Thought, Words, and Creativity: Art and Thought in Lawrence, 1976, all by F. R. Leavis; Son of Woman: The Story of Lawrence, 1931, and Reminiscences of Lawrence, 1933, both by John Middleton Murry; The Savage Pilgrimage: A Narrative of Lawrence by Catherine Carswell, 1932, revised edition, 1932; Lorenzo in Taos by Mabel Dodge Luhan, 1932; Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study by Anaïs Nin, 1932; Not, but the Wind—, 1934, and The Memoirs and Correspondence edited by Ernest W. Tedlock, 1961, both by Frieda Lawrence; Lawrence: A Personal Record by Jessie Chambers, 1935, revised edition, edited by J. D. Chambers, 1965; Portrait of a Genius, but…: The Life of Lawrence by Richard Aldington, 1950, as Lawrence: Portrait of a Genius, but…, 1950; The Life and Works of Lawrence, 1951, revised edition, as Lawrence: His Life and Works, 1964, and The Intelligent Heart: The Story of Lawrence, 1954, revised edition, as The Priest of Love: A Life of Lawrence, 1974, both by Harry T. Moore, and A Lawrence Miscellany edited by Moore, 1959; The Love Ethic of Lawrence by Mark Spilka, 1955, and Lawrence: A Collection of Critical Essays edited by Spilka, 1963; The Dark Sun: A Study of Lawrence by Graham Hough, 1956; Lawrence: A Composite Biography edited by Edward Nehls, 3 vols., 1957-59; Lawrence by Anthony Beal, 1961; The Art of Perversity: Lawrence's Shorter Fictions by Kingsley Widmer, 1962; Lawrence: Artist and Rebel by Ernest W. Tedlock, 1963; The Deed of Life: The Novels and Tales of Lawrence by Julian Moynahan, 1963; Lawrence by R. P. Draper, 1964, and Lawrence: The Critical Heritage edited by Draper, 1970; Double Measure: A Study of the Novels and Stories of Lawrence by George H. Ford, 1965; The Forked Flame: A Study of Lawrence by H. M. Daleski, 1965; Lawrence as a Literary Critic by David J. Gordon, 1966; The Art of Lawrence, 1966, The Life of Lawrence, 1980, and Lawrence: Life into Art, 1985, all by Keith Sagar, and A Lawrence Handbook edited by Sagar, 1982; Sexual Politics by Kate Millett, 1970; Acts of Attention: The Poems of Lawrence by Sandra M. Gilbert, 1972, revised edition, 1990; Lawrence, The Man and His Work: The Formative Years 1885-1919 by Emile Delavenay, 1972; Lawrence by Frank Kermode, 1973; The Hostile Sun: The Poetry of Lawrence by Joyce Carol Oates, 1973; Lawrence: Novelist, Poet, Prophet edited by Stephen Spender, 1973; The Plays of Lawrence by Sylvia Sklar, 1975; Son and Lover: The Young Lawrence by Philip Callow, 1975; Who's Who in Lawrence, 1976, Lawrence: History, Ideology and Fiction, 1982, and Women in Love, 1986, all by Graham Holderness; The Art of the Self in Lawrence by Marguerite B. Howe, 1977; Lawrence: The Novels by Alastair Niven, 1978; A Lawrence Companion: Life, Thought, and Works by F. B. Pinion, 1978; Lawrence and Women edited by Anne Smith, 1978; Lawrence: A Critical Study of the Major Novels and Other Writings edited by A. H. Gomme, 1978; The Composition of The Rainbow and Women in Love: A History by Charles L. Ross, 1979; Lawrence and the Idea of the Novel, 1979, and Lawrence: A Literary Life, 1989, both by John Worthen; The World of Lawrence: A Passionate Appreciation by Henry Miller, edited by Evelyn J. Hinz and John J. Teunissen, 1980; Lawrence by George J. Becker, 1980; The Minoan Distance: The Symbolism of Travel in Lawrence by L. D. Clark, 1980; Lawrence and Women by Carol Dix, 1980; The Moon's Dominion: Narrative Dichotomy and Female Dominance in Lawrence's Earlier Novels by Gavriel Ben-Ephraim, 1981; The Curve of Return: Lawrence's Travel Books by Del Ivan Janik, 1981; Lawrence: Interviews and Recollections edited by Norman Page, 2 vols., 1981; Lawrence in Australia by Robert Darroch, 1981; A Reader's Guide to Lawrence by Philip Hobsbaum, 1981; A Preface to Lawrence by Gāmini Salgādo, 1982; Perception in the Poetry of Lawrence by Jillian De Vries-Mason, 1982; Lawrence and Feminism by Hilary Simpson, 1982; A Reassessment of Lawrence's Aaron's Rod by Paul G. Baker, 1983; The Creation of Lady Chatterley's Lover by Michael Squires, 1983; The Poetry of Lawrence: Texts and Contexts by Ross G. Murfin, 1983; Lawrence: The Artist as Psychologist by Daniel J. Schneider, 1984; The Phoenix Paradox: A Study of Renewal Through Change in the Collected Poems and Last Poems of Lawrence by Gail Mandell, 1984; The Short Fiction of Lawrence by Janice Hubbard Harris, 1984; Lawrence and the Devouring Mother: The Search for a Patriarchal Ideal of Leadership by Judith Ruderman, 1984; Lawrence: A Celebration edited by Andrew Cooper, 1985; Lawrence: A Centenary Consideration edited by Peter Balbert and Phillip L. Marcus, 1985; Lawrence and Tradition, 1985, and The Legacy of Lawrence: New Essays, 1987, both edited by Jeffrey Meyers, and Lawrence: A Biography by Meyers, 1990; Flame into Being: The Life and Work of Lawrence by Anthony Burgess, 1985; Lawrence's Lady: A New Look at Lady Chatterley's Lover edited by Michael Squires and Dennis Jackson, 1985; Lawrence: The Earlier Fiction: A Commentary by Michael Black, 1986; The Consciousness of Lawrence: An Intellectual Biography by Daniel J. Schneider, 1986; Lawrence's Leadership Politics and the Turn Against Women by Cornelia Nixon, 1986; Lawrence: Centenary Essays edited by Mara Kalnins, 1986; Lawrence: New Studies edited by Christopher Heywood, 1987; Sons and Lovers by Geoffrey Harvey, 1987; A Study of the Poems of Lawrence by M. J. Lockwood, 1987; Lawrence's Non-fiction: Art, Thought, and Genre edited by David Ellis and Howard Mills, 1988; Lady Chatterley: The Making of a Novel by Derek Britton, 1988; The Spirit of Lawrence: Centenary Studies edited by Gāminīdo and G. K. Das, 1988; Critical Essays on Lawrence edited by Dennis Jackson and Fleda Brown Jackson, 1988; Lawrence and the Phallic Imagination: Essays on Sexual Identity and Feminist Misreadings by Peter Balbert, 1989; The Language of Lawrence by Allan Ingram, 1990; The Lady Chatterley's Lover Trial edited by H. Montgomery Hyde, 1990; Lawrence by Tony Pinkney, 1990; Lawrence's Poetry: Demon Liberated: A Collection of Primary and Secondary Material edited by A. Banerjee, 1990; Rethinking Lawrence edited by Keith Brown, 1990; The Challenge of Lawrence edited by Michael Squires and Keith Cushman, 1990; The Rainbow: A Search for New Life by Duane Edwards, 1990; Lawrence: Sexual Crisis by Nigel Kelsey, 1991; Lawrence: Language and Being by Micheal Bell, 1992; The Serpent of the Sun: D. SalgaH. Lawrence's Moral Ego Revisited by Michael Ecker, 1995; D. H. Lawrence's Response to Plato: A Bloomian Interpretation by Barry J. Scherr, 1996; D. H. Lawrence: The Thinker as Poet by Fiona Becket, 1997; D. H. Lawrence by Linda Ruth Williams, 1997; D. H. Lawrence, Dying Game, 1922-1930 by David Ellis, 1998.* * *
D. H. Lawrence was a prolific writer who wrote important work in many different genres, including the novel, poetry, travel writing, drama, and the short story. Some critics would argue that his most important fictional work is in the novel, particularly Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, and Women in Love, and that his short stories are distinguished by the succinctness and artistic control of insights explored more deeply and extensively in the novels. But this underestimates his innovative use of the short story form and the sheer originality of certain of his long stories, or novellas. These are no minor part of Lawrence's achievement.
The stories do, however, share with the novels Lawrence's earnest concern with the relations between the sexes, and, in particular, the influence of powerful unconscious forces (what he calls "blood consciousness," as opposed to "mental consciousness") that often determine his characters' lives at moments of emotional crisis. Their themes and settings also reflect, as those of the novels do, his personal odyssey, which took him from the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire coalfield where he was born and brought up, to Germany and Italy, which he first visited when he eloped with Frieda Weekley, and to the American Southwest, where, he wrote, "a new part of the soul woke up suddenly, and the old world gave way to the new." The stories also are concerned with what Lawrence felt was the inhumanly mechanical nature of the Western industrial world and its sterile subordination to a hypocritical ideal of benevolence. This, too, is a preoccupation of the novels; but the stories seem better able to combine it with humor and satire.
The Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire stories are mostly from the early period of Lawrence's writing career—though the implication that they are therefore conditioned by attitudes he afterwards rejected, or considerably modified, can be misleading, since a number of them were revised for later publication and in the process acquired the resonances of his more mature work (a good example is "Odour of Chrysanthemums"). These stories are steeped in working-class life; they have the virtues of an unsentimental realism and dramatic immediacy that come from Lawrence's first-hand experience of colliers and their families, and they are particularly effective in their use of the local dialect. But they are more than merely realist sketches. Even a comparatively slight piece like "Strike Pay" (1912), which recounts the escapades of a group of miners on a jaunt to a football match in Nottingham, comes to focus on the domestic tensions between husband, wife, and mother-in-law in a way that raises more serious emotional issues. In one of his early masterpieces, "Daughters of the Vicar" (1911-14), the marriage choices made by two daughters of a Midlands clergyman become the fictional means by which Lawrence probes critically, but not unsympathetically, into the twisted values of a Christian family that rates money and respectability above warm, mutually responsive feeling. There are elements in the story that suggest the distorting effect of a didactically conceived morality play: Mary's choice of an almost parodic caricature of a middle-class, clerical husband is perhaps too blatantly contrasted with Louisa's choice of the miner, Alfred Durant; but the story's main theme is worked out through discriminations that are sensitively true to the recognizable texture of ordinary life.
What is still more distinctive, however, in Lawrence's handling of the short story is the poetic power with which he imbues it. This is apparent, for example, in "The Fox" (1918-21) when March dreams of the animal to which the title alludes: "She dreamed she heard a singing outside which she could not understand, a singing that roamed round the house, in the fields, and in the darkness … suddenly she knew it was the fox singing. He was very yellow and bright, like corn." The level of plausible surface reality is also maintained in this story, but the experience towards which it reaches is beyond and beneath that level, requiring another linguistic dimension to communicate it. In one sense such stories seem unrealistic, for their characters are jolted out of their everyday awareness of things and compelled to behave in ways that by ordinary standards are unwise and improbable. They hear a singing outside the range of normal reality, which puts a compulsion upon them; but the imaginative heightening of Lawrence's language contrives to suggest that this is an authentically vital, rather than an hallucinatory, compulsion. Nevertheless, the conflict between the two levels continues, and creates, in fact, the substance of the tales in which it is narrated—variously exemplified by the struggle for male dominance in "The Fox" and "The Captain's Doll" (1921), the sightless versus the sighted levels of reality in "The Blind Man" (1918), and the instinct to defend natural energy against the debilitating effect of modern civilization in "St. Mawr" (1924).
Often the outcome of this struggle remains tentatively open-ended. When it is not, as in "The Woman Who Rode Away" (1924), the reader senses a forcing of the issue. Here Lawrence makes his story the vehicle for a loaded myth. The protagonist, a representative of Western independent womanhood, seeks a different way of life from that which has made her own a dead-end one and hopes to find it among a remote tribe of Indians. Her readiness to give them her "heart" is interpreted as a willingness to submit to a human sacrifice that will transfer power from the white race to the Indians. The story remains poised at its end at the moment when her heart will be cut out and offered to the sun. "The Woman Who Rode Away" is an impressive stylistic accomplishment, modulating from the harsh, staccato language of its sterile opening to the sinuous, incantatory rhythms and seductive repetitions that express the visionary awareness experienced by the woman under the influence of the Indians. But this is a transition rather than a balance. The poetic dimension is no longer held in tension with the more ordinary level of reality, and consequently a sense of wholeness is lost.
In "The Woman Who Rode Away," as in other of Lawrence's Mexican works, there is a marked streak of cruelty, which is fortunately subdued, if not entirely absent, from the late novellas, "The Man Who Loved Islands" (1926), The Virgin and the Gipsy, and The Escaped Cock. "The Man Who Loved Islands" is a satirical fable of idealism undermined and corrupted by its own denial of the untamable forces of nature, told in a style that, though still capable of poetry, works mainly from a base of mockingly colloquial speech. The other two novellas are intensely poetic and again function as myths—The Virgin and the Gipsy as a latter-day version of the biblical flood and The Escaped Cock as a bold refashioning of the Christian Resurrection combined with the pagan story of Isis and Osiris. They return, however, to the central Lawrentian theme of love (virtually ignored in "The Woman Who Rode Away"), which is a phallic, as much as a spiritual, experience. The Christ figure in The Escaped Cock rises from death (the tale was published later as The Man Who Died) to a newfound delight in the body, preluded by a remarkable description of a black and orange cockerel, with a red comb, "leaping out of greenness…, his tail-feathers streaming lustrous." The brilliantly colored, surging prose is a verbal equivalent of the paintings of Van Gogh; it signifies an affirmation of the values of the phenomenal world, leading into the quieter eloquence and subdued biblical rhythms that celebrate the man's discovery of wholeness in physical communion with the priestess of Isis.
It is arguable that The Escaped Cock is the most important of Lawrence's prose works after Women in Love. If there is a decline in his career as a novelist during the 1920s, it is not due to failure of imaginative vigor. What is missing in his novels is at least compensated by what is to be found in these stories and novellas (and also in the significantly related poems of Birds, Beasts, and Flowers, and Last Poems). There his creative vitality is unabated, and what he contributes to English short fiction is unique.
—R. P. Draper
See the essays on "The Horse Dealer's Daughter," "Odour of Chrysanthemums," "The Prussian Officer," and "The Rocking-Horse Winner."