D. H. Lawrence Lawrence, D. H. (Short Story Criticism)

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Introduction

(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.

Biographical Information

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...

(The entire section is 123,154 words.)