English 401W-01 
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

Works of Lawrence Accessible Online
Lawrence, Obscenity, and Censorship: A Complex Relationship
Lawrence's Review of Ben Hecht's Fantazius Mallare
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
Student Papers
Course Syllabus
Library Reserve List

Please Note: 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.

 Also Please Note: Any suggestions from students or teachers regarding additions or changes to this site are very welcome. See my address below.

Works of 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 below):
    "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"

personal note: 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.

For Lawrence's 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 here

statue the DHL statue as the U of Nottingham. What is that blue thing he's holding?

for more on this painting click here