Lawrence, D. H. (Short Story Criticism)
D. H. Lawrence 1885–-1930
(Full name David Herbert Richard Lawrence; also wrote under the pseudonym Lawrence H. Davison) English novelist, novella and short-story writer, poet, essayist, critic, translator, and dramatist.
The following entry presents criticism of Lawrence's short fiction works from 1987 through 2003. See also, "The Rocking-Horse Winner" Criticism.
One of the most original English writers of the twentieth century, Lawrence has been praised for his short stories that explore human nature through frank discussions of sex, psychology, and religion. In his lifetime he was received as a controversial figure, both because of the explicit sexuality he portrayed in his fiction and his unconventional personal life. Critics note that his short fiction was often based on experiences from his working-class youth in England's industrial midlands. Several of his stories are considered masterly and innovative examples of the short fiction genre and crucial to Lawrence's development as a novelist.
Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, in the colliery town of Eastwood, Nottingham. His father was a coal miner, and Lawrence blamed the debilitating mine work for his father's debased condition. Lawrence attended local grammar and high schools and later, from 1906 to 1908, studied at Nottingham University College, where he began writing short stories. In 1908, he moved to Croyden, just south of London, to teach school. While there he encountered Ford Madox Ford's English Review, where he published some of his early poetry and—more meaningful to the evolution of his fiction—discovered what he and others termed “the exciting new school of realism” in the works of such writers as Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and Leo Tolstoy. In 1911, the onset of tuberculosis forced Lawrence to resign from teaching. That same year he published his first novel, The White Peacock, which was critically well received. When he was twenty-seven, Lawrence eloped to Germany with Frieda von Richthofen Weekly, the wife of one of his college professors, and the two were married in 1914.
In 1913, Lawrence published his first major work, the largely autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers, and also wrote “The Prussian Officer,” one of his most celebrated stories. Both works are early examples of the psychological fiction that he later developed more fully. Lawrence returned with Frieda to England just before the outbreak of World War I and remained there until the war's conclusion. During the war, Lawrence and Frieda endured harassment by the English government because of his seemingly antipatriotic views and her German ancestry. Lawrence's next novel, The Rainbow, a complex narrative focusing on relationships between men and women, appeared in 1915. The book was judged obscene for its explicit discussion of sexuality and was suppressed in England. His last major novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928), met with similar resistance and was available only in an expurgated version until 1959 in the United States and 1960 in England, when a landmark obscenity trial vindicated the book as a work of literature. After the war, the Lawrences lived briefly in Germany, Austria, Italy, Sicily, England, France, Australia, Mexico, and in the southwestern United States, where Lawrence hoped to someday establish a Utopian community. These varied locales provided settings for many of the novels and stories Lawrence wrote during the 1920s and also inspired four books of admired travel sketches. In 1930 Lawrence entered a sanatorium in Vence, France, in an attempt to cure the tuberculosis that afflicted him during the later years of his life. He died there on March 2, 1930.
Major Works of Short Fiction
Many critics consider Lawrence's short stories his most artistically accomplished writings and have attributed much of their success to the constraints of the form that forced Lawrence to deny himself the elaborations, diversions, and repetitions that characterize his longer works. In comparison with his novels, Lawrence's short fiction is economical in style and structure. His early stories are written in the manner of Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling, whose anecdotes and tales of adventure epitomized the traditional nineteenth-century English short story. Most critics concur that “Odour of Chrysanthemums” marked the emergence of a second stage in the development of Lawrence's short fiction. Composed in 1911 and published in The Prussian Officer, and Other Stories (1914), this piece incorporates the heightened realism of Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and Leo Tolstoy, and like most of Lawrence's stories from the years 1909 to 1912, focuses on the familiar events and problems of twentieth-century industrial society, while displaying concern for the lives of ordinary men and women. The title story from The Prussian Officer is regarded by many as Lawrence's first completely visionary work. This piece signaled another change in the direction of Lawrence's writing and, to some critics, in the art of short fiction at large. Written in 1913, “The Prussian Officer” combines accurate social setting with penetrating psychological analysis, exhibiting Lawrence's eagerness to explore areas beneath the surface of human behavior. Characterized by intense observation, this and other works of the period before 1925 imply the depth and complexity of ordinary experience and retain Lawrence's sharp observation of character and place.
World War I was a major event in the evolution of Lawrence's aesthetic principles. Like many artists of the time, Lawrence viewed a cycle of apocalypse and rebirth as a necessary corrective to the apparent depravity of the modern world. In his postwar stories he presents intense personal engagements as essential in giving new life to people and societies on the verge of despair. Sensual love stands as an alternative to the mechanisms of modern warfare and technology, and the closed community that Lawrence valued and portrayed in his earlier writings becomes extended and reshaped to incorporate all of Western culture. To dramatize this concern for regeneration, Lawrence often utilized elements of religious ritual and myth. Stories from this period include the title story from England, My England, and Other Stories (1922) and “The Horse-Dealer's Daughter.” In “England, My England,” Lawrence symbolizes the self-destructive yearning of the fading English gentility through the protagonist Egbert, an effete aristocrat who is killed at the front after enlisting in the army in an attempt to reassert his masculinity. “The Horse-Dealer's Daughter” personifies the redemption of society through the erotic rejuvenation of a doctor and the girl that he rescues from suicide.
Lawrence's longer short stories from this period in some ways anticipate the techniques of his later works through their use of allegory, mythological structures, and imagery. Some critics have accused Lawrence of displaying chauvinistic attitudes in several works of this period, notably “The Fox,” “You Touched Me,” and “The Border Line.” The exotic story “The Woman Who Rode Away” culminates this trend in what some critics consider a misogynistic dramatization of female submission to male mastery in which a young white woman is captured and sacrificed to ancient gods by a group of aboriginal males. While many regard this tendency in Lawrence's work as transitory—by 1924 with “St. Mawr,” he began to modify his views—throughout his career, Lawrence often demonstrated distrust and even fear of the power of women. The stories from this middle period of Lawrence's career are noted for their extensive range of themes, attitudes, settings, and characters, and critics have often commented on the steadiness and high quality of Lawrence's output during these years. Lawrence's later short stories, from 1925 to 1930, display a dominant movement toward fabulation and satire. “The Rocking-Horse Winner” is a sardonic tale employing devices of the fairy tale and a mockingly detached tone to moralize on the value of love and the dangers of money. “The Man Who Loved Islands” is a parabolic story that ridicules idealism through the experiences of a man who flees the mechanistic modern world to three self-created island utopias, each of which fails due to the intrusion of his own human imperfection. In these and other late tales, Lawrence moves beyond the strictures of realism and encompasses a broad range of subjects and styles. Confronting such issues as materialism, idealism, conformism, women's movements, and traditional Christianity, these stories in some sense return to the legends and fables of his earliest works, yet manifest what many critics regard as keener insights, sturdier craft, and vaster experience.
Lawrence is regarded as one of the twentieth century's most important short-story writers. Through his innovative use of psychological themes and his distinctive application of a heightened realism to quotidian English society, he produced some of the earliest and, some critics believe, finest, modernist prose. Lawrence demonstrated a wide imaginative range in his short fiction that was often lacking in his novels, and to many observers his fresh masterful approach extended the conventions of the short-story genre. Although some critics fault several of Lawrence's stories for exhibiting failed symbolism, fanatical didacticism, and controversial views, he is nonetheless celebrated for his trenchant insights into the deepest impulses of life, his devotion to illuminating human passion, and his original perspective on the problems posed by human relationships.
The Prussian Officer, and Other Stories 1914
England, My England, and Other Stories 1922
“The Ladybird,” “The Fox,” and “The Captain's Doll” (novellas) 1923; also published as The Captain's Doll: Three Novelettes, 1923
“St. Mawr”: Together with “The Princess” (novellas) 1925
The Woman Who Rode Away, and Other Stories 1928
The Escaped Cock (novella) 1929; also published as The Man Who Died, 1931
Love among the Haystacks, and Other Pieces 1930
The Virgin and the Gipsy (novella) 1930
The Lovely Lady, and Other Stories 1933
A Modern Lover 1934
The Tales of D. H. Lawrence 1934
The Complete Short Stories of D. H. Lawrence. 3 vols. 1955
The White Peacock (novel) 1911
The Trespasser (novel) 1912
Love Poems and Others (poetry) 1913
Sons and Lovers (novel) 1913
The Rainbow (novel) 1915
Amores (poetry) 1916
Twilight in Italy (essays) 1916
Look! We Have Come Through! (poetry) 1917
New Poems (poetry) 1918
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SOURCE: McCabe, T. H. “The Otherness of D. H. Lawrence's ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’.” The D. H. Lawrence Review 19, no. 2 (summer 1987): 149-56.
[In the following essay, McCabe traces the concept of Otherness in Lawrence's work, finding “Odour of Chrysanthemums” to be the earliest examination of the issue.]
“The central law of all organic life is that each organism is intrinsically isolate and single in itself” (Studies in Classic American Literature 66). This is a basic Lawrencean idea: all living things are essentially strangers, outsiders, other. “Otherness” for Lawrence means the self's perception of that life beyond the self and inside all other living things. We can never know the exact sensation of life in another the way we know it in ourselves. But we assume that others feel life just as we do and that our idea or image of them is actually the way they feel their own life. When we realize that that idea or image has little to do with the way the other feels life, then we begin to know his otherness.
This realization is at first chilling: we can never know another, not even a lover, at the core. But the realization is also wonderful: life is not all merely as we see it, it is uniquely itself. For example, in his poem “New Heaven and Earth,” Lawrence describes the wonder of otherness. At first, he was overcome by nausea at all things tainted with his...
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SOURCE: Kearney, Martin F. “Spirit, Place and Psyche: Integration in D. H. Lawrence's ‘The Man Who Loved Islands’.” English Studies 69, no. 2 (1988): 158-62.
[In the following essay, Kearney contends that ‘The Man Who Loved Islands’ “is a tour de force of Lawrence's ability to integrate landscape, character, and pollyanalytics into a single thematic statement.”]
D. H. Lawrence's ‘savage pilgrimage’ took him from England to Western Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and North America. Each location's spirits of place were experienced first hand, duly recorded, and appear in the author's works as real presences that greatly influence his characters. In ‘Spirit of Place’, written sometime between August 1917 and June 1918 and later revised for Studies in Classic American Literature (1923), Lawrence states that ‘every great locality has its own pure daimon’ (TSM 20). He continues, ‘There is, no doubt, some peculiar potentiality attaching to every distinct region of the earth's surface over and above the indisputable facts of climate and geological condition. There is some subtle magnetic or vital influence inherent in every specific locality’ (20). Lawrence later embellished this idea in his work on American fiction:
Every continent has its own great spirit of place … Different places on the face of the earth have...
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SOURCE: Meyers, Jeffrey. “D. H. Lawrence and Tradition: ‘The Horse Dealer's Daughter’.” Studies in Short Fiction 26, no. 3 (summer 1989): 346-51.
[In the following essay, Meyers finds allusions to mythology, literature, and Lawrence's earlier work in “The Horse Dealer's Daughter.”]
“The Horse Dealer's Daughter” (1922) has often been read as a story of resurrection,1 though this does not fully account for its extraordinary mystery and power. Previous critics have not noticed that in this tale Lawrence combines both classical and Christian resurrection myths, draws on literary allusions and transforms analogues in nineteenth-century fiction to express his characteristic themes: revelation of truth through nakedness and touch, release of primitive emotions through ritual and ceremony, self-discovery and return to life through regenerative love. These techniques and themes connect this story to the works Lawrence completed during the last five years of his life: “The Woman Who Rode Away,” St. Mawr, The Virgin and the Gipsy, “The Flying Fish” (all 1925); The Plumed Serpent and “Sun” (both 1926); Etruscan Places (written 1927); Lady Chatterley's Lover and The Man Who Died (both 1928); “The Risen Lord,” “Bavarian Gentians,” “The Ship of Death,” and Apocalypse (all 1929).2
The story opens...
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SOURCE: Stewart, Jack F. “Totem and Symbol in The Fox and St. Mawr.” Studies in the Humanities 16, no. 2 (December 1989): 84-98.
[In the following essay, Stewart discusses the fox in “The Fox” and the stallion in “St. Mawr” as totemic images.]
Reading D. H. Lawrence's “The Fox” (1923) and “St. Mawr” (1925), one is first struck by vivid animal presences and then by the paradox that these presences are mediated by language.1 As images, the fox and the stallion are overcharged with a surplus of power that seems to challenge a socially constituted consciousness. The unconditioned life-force in these male animals is transmitted to human female receivers, who are thus initiated into blood-consciousness or visions of dark gods, and whose sensitive awareness makes them transmitters, in turn, of the writer's vision to the reader.
In “The Fox,” two young women are living together and running a farm at the end of the First World War. March responds with irrational rapture to a fox that has been robbing the hen-roost, while her companion, Banford, regards it simply as a marauder to be exterminated. In “St. Mawr,” Lou Carrington, a “bright young thing” of the twenties who is dissatisfied with her life and marriage, responds with equal rapture to a stallion. Gazing into St. Mawr's “demonish” eyes, she becomes possessed with a vision of real...
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SOURCE: Scherr, Barry J. “‘The Prussian Officer’: A Lawrentian Allegory.” Recovering Literature: A Journal of Contextualist Criticism 17 (1989-1990): 33-42.
[In the following essay, Scherr reads “The Prussian Officer” as an allegory for Lawrence's metaphysical concerns-specifically, the balance between the concepts of mental consciousness and blood consciousness.]
One of Lawrence's most famous short stories, “The Prussian Officer,” has received considerable attention from numerous literary critics who have interpreted the work in various ways.1 But none of these fine Lawrence critics has dealt with what may be the most important contribution of “The Prussian Officer” to the understanding of Lawrence's greatness as artist and thinker. For, as F. R. Leavis points out, “A major creative writer knows that in composing and writing a major creative work his concern is to refine and develop his profounder thought about life,”2 and “Lawrence's genius is that of a supremely great novelist—which is to say that his art is thought and his thought art.”3 The purpose of this paper is to show how “The Prussian Officer” can be read as an extraordinary representation of the complexities of Lawrence's “profounder thought about life” in which Lawrence's “art is thought and his thought art.” Indeed, “The Prussian Officer” (written in 1913)...
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SOURCE: Schulz, Volker. “D. H. Lawrence's Early Masterpiece of Short Fiction: ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’.” Studies in Short Fiction 28, no. 3 (summer 1991): 363-69.
[In the following essay, Schulz interprets “Odour of Chrysanthemums” as a story about human isolation and life renewal.]
D. H. Lawrence is not only a major novelist (if far from a flawless one), but also one of the great masters of the modern short story. H. E. Bates was the first of several critics who have considered his short fiction superior even to his novels: “the short stories will emerge as the more durable achievement” (201).1 Nevertheless, it was not until 1984 that the first really comprehensive book-length study of Lawrence's short fiction appeared (Harris),2 and many of the sixty-odd short stories have yet to receive the detailed critical appreciation they deserve. The following interpretation of one of Lawrence's early masterpieces of short fiction, “Odour of Chrysanthemums,” is meant to help fill this gap.
The composition history of “Odour of Chrysanthemums” is fascinating, and a close study of it is bound to lead toward understanding a crucial phase of Lawrence's development;3 nevertheless, I will touch on it only briefly here, mainly because it has already been thoroughly treated by Cushman (47-71) and Harris (25-36). For this discussion, it will be...
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SOURCE: Osborn, Marijane. “Complexities of Gender and Genre in Lawrence's The Fox.” Essays in Literature 19, no. 1 (spring 1992): 84-97.
[In the following essay, Osborn offers a compositional history of “The Fox” and asserts that “as Lawrence uses an actual fable of the Aesopian kind to give form to elements borrowed from his own life, the result is a fiction rich in ambivalence about sexual roles and played out by characters luminous as mythic beings.”]
The point of recognition seems to be also a point of identification, where a hidden truth about something or somebody emerges into view.
—Northrop Frye, Fables of Identity
“There he is!” she cried involuntarily, as if terribly startled.
—D. H. Lawrence, “The Fox”
Though F. R. Leavis's evaluation of Lawrence's novella “The Fox” as “one of the supreme things among the major tales” (332) carries conviction, his identification of “youthful love” as the theme is so reductive as to mislead. Among the qualities making “The Fox” special are its oddly illuminating yet covert treatment of both gender and genre and the complex way these two elements are woven together. As Lawrence uses an actual fable of the Aesopian kind to give form to elements borrowed from...
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SOURCE: Doherty, Gerald. “The Art of Survival: Narrating the Nonnarratable in D. H. Lawrence's ‘The Man Who Loved Islands’.” The D. H. Lawrence Review 24, no. 2 (summer 1992): 117-26.
[In the following essay, Doherty elucidates Lawrence's inventive narrative strategies in “The Man Who Loved Islands.”]
What to write now? Can you still write anything? One writes with one's desire, and I am not through desiring.
(Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes.)
In Reading for the Plot, Peter Brooks has offered one of the most acute and attractive accounts of desire in narrative. For Brooks, desire is like Eros: it fuels our projects towards the world, including the project of telling stories that explain or interpret the world. As these stories unfold, they shape our desires, especially in relation to time: they impose a pattern of beginnings, middles, and ends. As embodiments of these desires, the protagonists of these stories are driven forward through complex chains of events that reveal the workings of time in the process.1
Shifting restlessly from one highly-charged scene to the next, confronting fresh bars and obstacles, the traditional protagonist engages the world of events which at once resists and fulfils his desires (typically he encounters other figures who either block or deflect his...
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SOURCE: Smith, Duane. “England, My England as Fragmentary Novel.” The D. H. Lawrence Review 24, no. 3 (fall 1992): 247-55.
[In the following essay, Smith argues that the stories comprising England, My England, and Other Stories possess a thematic unity and that the volume should be read as a fragmentary novel.]
Writing about James Joyce's Dubliners, Frank O'Connor observes that “A good book of stories like a good book of poems is a thing in itself, the summing up of a writer's experience at a given time, and it suffers from being broken up or crowded in with other books.” O'Connor argues that books such as Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, D. H. Lawrence's England, My England [England, My England, and Other Stories], and Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time “should be read by themselves, as unities, and preferably in editions that resemble the originals” (113). Generally, although individual stories from Dubliners, Winesburg, and In Our Time have been “broken up” and “crowded in,” that is, dealt with as isolated short stories or anthologized with various other examples of the genre, all three collections have received attention as unities. Not so with Lawrence's England, My England (1922); its stories have been both broken up and crowded in, and the unity of the collection obscured and ignored.1 To recognize...
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SOURCE: Contreras. Sheila. “‘These Were Just Natives to Her’: Chilchui Indians and ‘The Woman Who Rode Away’.” D. H. Lawrence Review 25, nos. 1-3 (1993-1994): 91-103.
[In the following essay, Contreras assesses the significance of indigenous culture within the broader tradition of modern primitivism in “The Woman Who Rode Away.”]
D. H. Lawrence's travels to Mexico between 1923 and 1925 occurred during a period of intense U.S. and British interest in the social and political events of that country. “The Woman Who Rode Away” is a tale that combines many of Lawrence's observations of “a frightening country, the silent, fatal-seeming mountain slopes, the occasional distant, suspicious, elusive natives among the trees …” (“TWWRA” [“The Woman Who Rode Away”] 551). Biographers1 and critics have chronicled Lawrence's Mexican journeys, noting his unabashed antagonism towards the country, its people, and its politics. With the exception of specific chapters on Lawrence in the book length studies, Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives, by Marianna Torgovnick, and Infernal Paradise: Mexico and the Modern English Novel, by Ronald Walker, however, few Lawrence scholars have acknowledged his position within the larger phenomenon of U.S. and British touring, traveling, and writing on Mexico. Lawrence's work has been interpreted primarily on the basis...
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SOURCE: Diez-Medrano, Conchita. “Narrative Voice and Point of View in D. H. Lawrence's ‘Samson and Delilah’.” Essays in Literature 22, no. 1 (spring 1995): 87-96.
[In the following essay, Diez-Medrano examines the function of the narrative voice and point of view in “Samson and Delilah,” which she perceives to be a story about male violence against women.]
Each of us has two selves. First is this body which is vulnerable and never quite within our control. The body with its irrational sympathies and desires and passions, its peculiar direct communication, defying the mind. And second is the conscious ego, the self I KNOW I am.
The self that lives in my body … has such strange attractions, and revulsions, and it lets me in for so much irrational suffering, real torment, and occasional frightening delight.
—D. H. Lawrence, “On Being a Man”
The theme of male violence against women runs through many Lawrentian fictions. Among his novels it is present in Sons and Lovers, Women in Love, The Lost Girl, and The Plumed Serpent. It also runs through some of Lawrence's shorter works: “A Sick Collier” (1913), “The White Stocking” (1913), “The Primrose Path” (1913), “The Princess” (1925), “The Blue Moccasins” (1928), “None of...
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SOURCE: Granofsky, Ronald. “Illness and Wellness in D. H. Lawrence's The Ladybird.” Orbis Litterarum 51, no. 2 (1996): 99-117.
[In the following essay, Granofsky asserts that the metaphor of illness and wellness and the focus on parent-child relationships in “The Ladybird” tend to overpower Lawrence's interest in the themes of dependency and power.]
“… a wound stimulates the recuperative powers.”
—Nietzsche, Preface to The Twilight of the Idols
D. H. Lawrence's Ladybird novellas, “The Fox,” “The Captain's Doll,” and “The Ladybird” (1923), form part of a well-documented effort by Lawrence to shift the focus of his fictional world from marriage to leadership, from love to power. In fact, one may construe a particular passage in “The Fox” as Lawrence's farewell to the world of the Brangwensaga, particularly its optimistic expression in The Rainbow. After a long meditation upon the subject of happiness from the perspective of a peculiarly Lawrentian narrative voice—in this instance part way between an omniscient narrator and the presumed thoughts of Nellie March—we are told that women's goal of happiness in life is like the elusive pot of gold at the foot of a rainbow: “But the end of the rainbow is a bottomless gulf down which you can fall forever without arriving …”...
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SOURCE: Siegel, Carol. “St. Mawr: Lawrence's Journey Toward Cultural Feminism.” D. H. Lawrence Review 26, nos. 1-3 (1997): 275-86.
[In the following essay, Siegel analyzes Lawrence's relationship to feminism and contends that “St. Mawr” reveals some commonality between Lawrence's beliefs and cultural feminism.]
Although D. H. Lawrence has always had some strong supporters among academic feminists and, in the last few years, has gained in this area, the predominant opinion among feminist literary critics is that his writing exemplifies misogynist discourse. The critics promoting this view of Lawrence often concede that some sympathy with the feminist movement of his time is apparent in his work up through The Rainbow, but after that they see what has been called a “turn against women” and, more specifically, a turn against feminism.1 That Lawrence was interested in feminism early in his career and familiar with the work of important early feminist theorists, such as Olive Schreiner, is common knowledge. It is also well known that, as Hilary Simpson has shown in considerable detail, Lawrence rejected several ideas popular with feminists of his time, notably that women should be given access to the political process. What is less evident but can be demonstrated through attention to his short novel, “St. Mawr,” is that despite his opposition to many key ideas of the...
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SOURCE: Williams, Linda Ruth. “‘We've Been Forgetting That We're Flesh and Blood, Mother’: ‘Glad Ghosts’ and Uncanny Bodies.” D. H. Lawrence Review 27, no. 2 (1998): 233-53.
[In the following essay, Williams perceives “Glad Ghosts” to be an exploration of Lawrence's psychoanalytic theories.]
For it is true, as William James and Conan Doyle and the rest allow, that a spirit can persist in the after-death. Persist by its own volition. But usually, the evil persistence of a thwarted will, returning for vengeance on life. Lemures, vampires.
Lawrence wrote this in 1918, in his essay on Edgar Allan Poe, but it is only one of his lines on the life of the dead. “There's a long way to go, after the point of intrinsic death, before we disappear” says Birkin in Women in Love. “We live on long after our death, and progressively, aeons of progressive devolution” (WL 204). Later it is the living who find solace in the still-living dead: “I feel like the Sicilians” Lawrence wrote in 1923; “They always cry for help from their dead. We shall have to cry to ours.” This comes from a letter to John Middleton Murry written after Katherine Mansfield's death, in which Lawrence also mentions that he has sent Murry a copy of Fantasia of the Unconscious, although, as he rather...
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SOURCE: Thornton, Weldon. “A Trio from Lawrence's England, My England and Other Stories: Readings of ‘Monkey Nuts,’ ‘The Primrose Path,’ and ‘Fanny and Annie’.” D. H. Lawrence Review 28, no. 3 (1999): 5-29.
[In the following essay, Thornton urges greater attention to three of Lawrence's neglected stories—“Monkey Nuts,” “The Primrose Path,” and “Fanny and Annie”—as subtle and effective character studies.]
D. H. Lawrence's England, My England, and Other Stories (1922) has been called his “most outstanding accomplishment as a writer of short stories” (Cushman 27) and has been the most discussed among his collections of short stories in terms of its integrity as a volume (see the essays by Cushman, Mackenzie, and Smith). While the volume appears to be held together mainly by the experience of World War I, several stories have nothing to do with the war, either directly or in retrospect. The less overt, more subtle thematic connection among all of the stories is suggested by a passage from “Monkey Nuts,” in which Joe's sense of relief upon evading the approaches of Miss Stokes is said to be greater than when the firing ceased and the armistice was signed. Lawrence, like Hemingway, saw that the risks involved in venturing into human relationships can be just as intimidating and potentially traumatic as those in battle.
The volume contains...
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SOURCE: Doherty, Gerald. “The Short Fiction: Metaphor and the Rituals of Courtship.” In Theorizing Lawrence: Nine Meditations on Tropological Themes, pp. 131-44. New York: Peter Lang, 1999.
[In the following essay, Doherty elucidates Lawrence's depiction of contemporary courtship rituals in his short fiction.]
Like the previous meditation, this one is also structuralist in the Lévi-Straussian sense of the word: it tracks those transformations that follow regular laws. Once again it takes courtship narratives—this time in Lawrence's short fiction—as its object of meditation. However, it both develops and complicates the rhetoric of plotting I analysed in The Rainbow. Alongside the tripartite metaphorical schema, I introduce a second schema—an apocalyptic typology, based in what Lawrence called his “polly-analytics” (his metaphysical speculations). Both schemas, I suggest, exert a determining influence of the structure of the courtship rituals, especially in the short fiction, where a strict narrative economy makes this structure particularly conspicuous. Each schema contributes an essential ingredient to the rich complications of the courtship trajectory: each sharpens the drama of the unfolding and the denouement of the erotic encounters. Unlike the impact of the metaphorical plot-schema, however, which of course was latent (Lawrence was unaware that he was obeying the laws of...
(The entire section is 6042 words.)
SOURCE: Stoltzfus, Ben. “‘The Man Who Loved Islands’: A Lacanian Reading.” D. H. Lawrence Review 29, no. 3 (2000): 27-38.
[In the following essay, Stoltzfus offers a Lacanian interpretation of “The Man Who Loved Islands.”]
“The Man Who Loved Islands” is a story that lends itself to Lacanian analysis because its theme, structure, and language replicate psychoanalytic concepts of the Other, castration, desire, language, and aphanasis or the loss of sexual desire. Aspects of Saussurian linguistics and Freudian theory (the touchstones of Lacan's thought) are embedded in the title. To love “I-lands” is to dwell within the split self, a division that mimes the splitting (Spaltung) during Lacan's so-called “mirror stage” of the infant's development (1-8). D. H. Lawrence foregrounds not only the islander's fragmented identity but also his progressive misanthropy. In due course, his arrested desire and attitude repudiate all contact with men, his wife and daughter, even life itself.1
In Ecrits, Jacques Lacan, like Freud, shows that the operations of the unconscious, encompassing the extremes of pictographic and linguistic analyses, are themselves a linguistic process. Like the iconic nature of dreams, language and narration have a manifest and a latent content. In dreams, condensation and displacement disguise the content of the unconscious in the...
(The entire section is 6104 words.)
SOURCE: Ebbatson, Roger. “‘England, My England’: Lawrence, War and Nation.” Literature & History 9, no. 1 (spring 2000): 67-82.
[In the following essay, Ebbatson asserts that “England, My England” provides insights into English cultural identities at the time of World War I and examines Lawrence's revision of the story.]
The constituent elements of D. H. Lawrence's short story “England, My England” may be related both to Edwardian preoccupations with Englishness and to the conditions of the text's production, revision and reproduction. The interpretation which follows seeks to focus upon a number of interrelated issues thrown up by a theorised reading: first, contested definitions of Englishness current at the time of the text's initial production; secondly, the specific context of the tale in the cultural situation, particularly relating to the folk music revival; thirdly, the history of textual rewriting and revision as evidence of Lawrence's predicament as a cultural producer; and finally, the insertion of this text into new European artistic projects as part of the movement away from realism. As a starting point, the two interdependent versions of the story might fruitfully be interrogated through a formulation of T. W. Adorno's:
Social forces of production and social relations of production return in the very form of the work, divested of...
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SOURCE: Ramadier, Bernard-Jean. “Dubious Progress in D. H. Lawrence's ‘Tickets, Please’.” Journal of the Short Story in English, no. 35 (autumn 2000): 43-54.
[In the following essay, Ramadier maintains that in “Tickets, Please,” the “incidental effects of progress on humanity are shown through the Lawrentian central theme of the relationship between men and women.”]
“Tickets, Please” is one of the short stories in the collection England, My England [England My England, and Other Stories], published in 1922. It is a simple anecdote told in deceptively simple language; a young inspector of the tramway system seduces all the conductresses on the Midlands line. One of them, Annie, eventually falls for him on a special occasion, but she wants more than a flirtation. As she becomes more and more possessive, the young man lets her down and picks up another girl: Annie then decides to take revenge. As all the other conductresses more or less consciously bear a grudge against the seducer, they set a trap for him; one evening they manage to attract him into their waiting-room at the depot where they molest him. The girls' pretext for harassing him is to make him choose one of them for his wife: eventually he spitefully chooses Annie who, far from being proud and contented, falls prey to conflicting feelings. Freed at last, the inspector walks away alone in the night while the...
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SOURCE: Balbert, Peter. “Pan and the Appleyness of Landscape: Dread of the Procreative Body in ‘The Princess’.” Studies in the Novel 34, no. 3 (fall 2002): 282-302.
[In the following essay, Balbert maintains that “The Princess” is an impressive achievement “for the seamless way that it connects Lawrence's developing stylistic notions on writing and painting with his doctrinal beliefs about Pan mythology during the last six years of his life.”]
“So much depends on one's attitude.”
—D. H. Lawrence, “Pan in America”
Characteristic praise for “The Princess” fails to acknowledge the integrative context of its excellence within the Lawrencian canon. This lengthy tale remains impressive for the seamless way that it connects Lawrence's developing stylistic notions on writing and painting with his doctrinal beliefs about Pan mythology during the last six years of his life. Yet for most critics, the versatile achievement of “The Princess” is related variously to the detailed evocation of the New Mexico landscape, to the fluid changes in a narrative tone that moves from satiric to lyric to somber, to the imaginative adaptation of a vignette Lawrence originally heard from Catherine Carswell, and to the violent and credible inevitability of the tale's conclusion.1 While such...
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SOURCE: Michelucci, Stefania. “The Pact with the Genius Loci: The Prussian Officer.” In Space and Place in the Works of D. H. Lawrence, translated by Jill Franks, pp. 18-23. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2002.
[In the following essay, Michelucci traces Lawrence's development as a short story writer through an analysis of the pieces in The Prussian Officer, and Other Stories and contrasts the differences between these stories and his novel The White Peacock.]
The frontiers are not east or west, north or south, but whenever a man fronts a fact. …
—Henry David Thoreau
The stories in The Prussian Officer [The Prussian Officer, and Other Stories] surround, so to speak, Lawrence's two earliest novels, being written in a wide span of time (1907-14) which begins with The White Peacock and ends after Sons and Lovers. The stories, even more than the novels, constitute valuable evidence of the artistic and ideological evolution of the writer, which they allow us to follow step by step.1
The fact that the stories belong to different creative moments is reflected in a noticeable and inevitable heterogeneity of form, style, and content, even though there are also recurrent elements, especially the strong emphasis conferred upon places, which...
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SOURCE: McCollum, Laurie. “Ritual Sacrifice in ‘The Woman Who Rode Away’: A Girardian Reading.” In D. H. Lawrence: New Worlds, edited by Keith Cushman and Earl G. Ingersoll, pp. 230-42. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003.
[In the following essay, McCollum applies René Girard's theories of cultural anthropology, particularly the practice of ritual sacrifice, to Lawrence's “The Woman Who Rode Away.”]
D. H. Lawrence's obsession with the trope of sacrifice begins in his earliest works but is enacted most directly in “The Woman Who Rode Away.” In this short story, where the crisis of sexuality doubles as the crisis of civilization, Lawrence focuses on related concerns: the figure of the modern woman that is apparent in so much of his work, and sacrifice as an integral part of cultural regeneration. These concepts are particularly important as they impinge on Lawrence's views of women. In “The Woman Who Rode Away” Lawrence envisions the end of the modern malaise as tied to the removal or regeneration of the modern woman. Here he engages in a fiction of emergent possibility based on the most ancient models of ritual sacrifice. The female enacts cultural salvation, and the sacrifice of the Woman is ultimately empowering as it places women at the nexus of culture formation.
This reading of the story emerges from an application of the theories of René...
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Becket, Fiona. The Complete Critical Guide to D. H. Lawrence, London: Routledge, 2002, 186 p.
Critical study of Lawrence's major works.
Black, Michael. “England, My England.” In Lawrence's England: The Major Fiction, 1913-20, pp. 152-83. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England: Palgrave, 2001.
Evaluates the place of England, My England within Lawrence's oeuvre.
Díez-Medrano, Conchita. “Fictions of Rape: The Teller and the Tale in D. H. Lawrence's ‘None of That’.” Forum for Modern Language Studies 32, no. 4 (October 1996): 303-13.
Examines the narrative technique of “None of That.”
Fernihough, Anne, ed. The Cambridge Companion to D. H. Lawrence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001, 292 p.
Collection of critical essays on Lawrence's work.
Granofsky, Ronald. “Survival of the Fittest in Lawrence's ‘The Captain's Doll’.” D. H. Lawrence Review 27, no. 1 (1998): 27-46.
Explores the role of Darwinian evolutionary theory in “The Captain's Doll.”
———. D. Lawrence and Survival: Darwinism in the Fiction of the Transitional Period, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003, 212 p.
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