Does anyone know anything about D.H. Lawrence's story "Vin Ordinaire?" I'm struggling to find any critical interpretations of it. Thanks.

Expert Answers
amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

D. H. Lawrence revised "Vin Ordinaire" and retitled it "The Thorn in the Flesh." Lawrence found revision and rewriting as creative as writing itself. In revising, Lawrence wanted to heighten Bachmann's anxiety to increase the tension and thereby make his resolution more dramatic. One of the ways he did this was to make Bachmann more human and more fraught with insecurity than the other soldiers. In fact, in "The Thorn in the Flesh," only Bachmann and Emilie are described with very emotional, self-aware, human qualities. All the other characters are described as mechanical, insect-like or stern and matter-of-fact. Even the change in titles is telling of the shift from a vignette to a tale about psychological highs and lows. "Vin Ordinaire" literally means "ordinary wine." This is hardly indicative of a psychological struggle.

Here's one example of how Lawrence drew out the emotional tensions in Emilie (which he also did with Bachmann throughout the text, in subtle ways). In "Vin Ordinaire," Emilie is described as "very dark, with closely-banded black hair, proud, almost cold grey eyes." In "The Thorn in the Flesh," she is described as "the proud timid eyes of some wild animal." That wildness sets her (and Bachmann) apart from the other characters.

What stands out in this story is the tension and the constrained passion and emotion in Bachmann and Emilie. Emilie and Bachmann stand out as singularly emotional, passionate characters, relative to the other soldiers and even the Baron and Baroness. It is this contrast between these two emotional characters and the other more mechanical characters that highlights Bachmann's and Emilie's humanity.