Seminar in D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
Welcome to the life
and works of a great diagnostician of the 20th century soul. WARNING : In
this site are links to works of Lawrence which contain sexually
explicit and scatological language specified as "indecent"
by current legislation governing internet communications in some
states. It may be unlawful for some to access these texts in this
way, although it would not be to obtain books containing them.
"An author should be in among the crowd,
kicking their shins or cheering them on to some mischief or merriment....
Whoever reads me will be in the thick of the scrimmage, and if
he doesn't like it--if he wants a safe seat in the audience--let
him read somebody else." --DHL to Carlo Linati, 22 Jan. 1925
INDEX OF SITE:
Works of Lawrence Accessible Online
Lawrence, Obscenity, and Censorship: A Complex
Lawrence's Review of Ben Hecht's
Essays on Lawrence and His Work
Related Sites of Interest
DHL's Friends and Lovers
Mark Gertler's "The Merry-Go-Round"
Manuscript Collection Holdings
Enthusiasts' Web Sites
Web Sites with Sound
Library Reserve List
Garry Watson and M. Elizabeth Sargent of
the Univ. of Alberta are preparing an important book: APPROACHES
TO TEACHING THE WORKS OF D. H. LAWRENCE, which should be published
in the year 2001. It will be part of the MLA series of books about
approaches to teaching important writers. Dr. Sargent and
Dr. Watson have brought together more than 30 scholar-teachers
of Lawrence to write essays on their experiences.
Any suggestions from students or teachers
regarding additions or changes to this site are very welcome.
See my address below.
Lawrence Accessible Online
Lawrence, Obscenity, and Censorship: A Complex Relationship
"What you want is pornography--looking
at yourself in mirrors, watching your naked animal actions in
mirrors, so that you can have it all in your consciousness, make
it all mental." Birkin
to Hermione in Women in Love (Ch. 3).
"Even I would censor genuine
pornography, rigorously"-"Pornography and Obscenity."
And what was that, then?
Certainly not Lady Chatterley's Lover, which he felt was
"healthy" and "necessary." French post cards,
yes, but Ulysses? Jane Eyre? Loerke's statuette
of "a naked girl, small, finely made, sitting on a great
naked horse.... as if in shame and grief, and a little abandon"?
Mark Gertler's painting "The
Merry-Go-Round," which impressed him greatly? I think his statement
about Hecht's Fantazius Mallare tells us a lot--see below.
And so does this, from a letter to Mark Gertler after the latter
had sent Lawrence a photo of his painting (for which also see
"If they tell
you it is obscene, they will say truly. I believe there
was something in Pompeian art of this terrible and soul-tearing
obscenity. But then, since obscenity is the truth of our passion
today, it is the only stuff of art .... in this combination of
blaze, and violent mechanized rotation and complete involution,
and ghastly, utterly mindless human intensity of sensational extremity,
you have made a real and ultimate revelation."
DHL's response to Judge John Ford,
who complained when his daughter brought
home a lending-library copy of Women In Love in 1922: "Let
Judge Ford confine his
judgements to court of law, and not try to perch in seats that
are too high for him.... Women in Love was not written
for the Ford family any more than apples are apples for their
sake. Father and mother and daughter should all leave the tree
of knowledge alone. The judge won't succeed in chopping it down....Many
better men have tried and failed."
DHL's fan letter to First Amendment
hero Morris Ernst, about his book (To the Pure,
1928) on the effects of censorship: "that weird and horrible
animal, Social Man,... fumbling gropingly and menacingly for something
he is afraid of .... The censor moron does not really hate anything
but the living and growing human consciousness...."
Lawrence's poem on the reaction to
Lady Chatterley's Lover:
"My Naughty Book"
I have recently published a book entitled Bookleggers
and Smuthounds: The Trade in Erotica, 1920-1940. Having studied the distribution and prosecution
of erotica (in America) during the time DHL was writing, I find
his view on obscenity and censorship to be a powerful explanation
of what was going on. Click here to find out why.
response to Ben Hecht's 1922 shocker Fantazius Mallare
vignette from the book, by Wallace Smith
(the author and publisher hoped the
book would challenge American "anti-vice" societies;
in fact police confiscated most copies), click
the DHL statue as the
U of Nottingham. What is that blue thing he's holding?
- Enyclopedia Mythica.
Useful for study of any allusive writer.
- A list of resources for the study of modern British writers.
Lawrence is included, but the value of the site is for gaining
familiarity with Lawrence's contemporaries.
Hughes. Hughes is a contemporary poet influenced by the poetry
of DHL. In both writers, one finds fascination with the non-human
world of living things, with the kind of life which pre-dated
human existence and will, and with non-Western explanations for
the life of the spirit. Click on the "selected poems"
link to view individual poems.
- Raymond Carver. "Cathedral,"
by Carver, one of the best American short story writers, has
fascinating parallels to Lawrence's "The Blind Man,"
although Carver never read DHL's story. Understanding one story,
however, helps one understand the other, and the way both writers
use the concept of blindness is part of the fascination.
- Lawrence and Deep Ecology: Lawrence's vision of the relatedness
of man and nature echoes that of deep ecologists. He idealizes
a time -- as he imagined the era of the ancient Etruscans to
have been -- when humans were at home with nature, unafraid of
participating in its ecstasy or dissolution, and participants
in a "free-breasted naturalness and spontaneity." Here
isan essay which (although not mentioning DHL) reveal the
similarities between DHL's thought and that of present-day naturalists:
Ecology and Man -- A Sacred Kinship" ("separation
of man and nature ... may have caused the downfall of past civilizations";
tribal shamans "combine the spirit of place and the regeneration
of the spirit of man."
"Books to me are incorporate
things, voices in the air, that do not disturb the haze of autumn,
and visions that don't blot out the sunflowers....The miserable
tome itself ... delivers me to the vulgar mercies of the world.
The voice inside is mine forever." "The Bad Side
of Books," 1924
DHL's Friends and Lovers
- A review of
Frieda Lawrence's book on her life with DHL. Lawrence was
totally dedicated to, and dependent on, his wife, although the
shocking violence of their spats included both verbal abuse and
"thumping." See also the summary of Brenda
Maddox's recent book on Lawrence and Frieda (The Story
of a Marriage).
Mansfield witnessed one such "thumping," and its
aftermath. Mansfield, with her husband, John Middleton Murry,
visited DHL and Frieda in Cornwall in 1915. DHL had wanted these
fellow writers to help him create a utopian literary community,
RANANIM. The visit did not end happily, and Murry, with whom
Lawrence wanted to establish a blood-brotherly relationship,
became a model for Gerald Crich in Women In Love.
- Dora Carrington was a painter with whom Lawrence was
acquainted through his connections with the Bloomsbury intellectuals
and artists. He had contempt for what he thought was their over-intellectualized
approach to life; Carrington despised him. However, she influenced
another painter, Dorothy Brett, who loved DHL and followed
him and Frieda to New Mexico, where one of her paintings features
DHL as a crucified Christ. Carrington andMark
Gertler were lovers. The latter was also a painter, and Lawrence
used his "The Merry-Go-Round" in Women In Love,
attributing it to the sinister Loerke. Gertler was one of
DHL's Jewish friends, who usually forgave him his negative portrayals
of Jews (such as Loerke). "Only a Jew could have painted
this picture," said Lawrence of "The Merry-Go-Round."
mechanized rotation and complete involution, and ghastly, utterly
mindless human intensity of sensational extremity."
for more on this painting click here
- Mabel Dodge Luhan was a wealthy intellectual who provided
a ranch for Lawrence, Frieda, and Dorothy Brett when they visited
New Mexico. She knew many of the leading artists and writers
of the era. One newspaper described her as "the most common
denominator that society, literature, art and radical revolutionaries
ever found in New York and Europe." She was also a perfect
example of the "New Women" of the post World War I
period, "self determined and in control of her destiny."
Huxley was one of Lawrence's closest friends, and was with
him when he died. Huxley's novel Point Counter Point contains
a character, Rampion, modelled on Lawrence.
These are discussion groups to which one subscribes. What people
have to say--comments and questions of any kind--are posted by
the listserv administrator. A very valuable way of studying and
appreciating the writer.
- The Rananim Society
- A D.H. Lawrence discussion group.
- DHLAWRENCE. To subscribe E-mail this message: SUBSCRIBE DHLAWRENCE
[your name] to firstname.lastname@example.org
- D.H. Lawrence Society of North America
- D.H. Lawrence
Society of Australia
MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION HOLDINGS
Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas
at Austin Holds manuscipt drafts, letters and paintings.
of Nottingham: MSS and Special Collections