D. H. Lawrence as an Essayist

D. H. Lawrence, novelist, short story writer, poet, critic,essayist, and travelogue writer appeared on the English literary scene during the early years of the twentieth century. He is remembered more as a novelist than an essayistis. Just as in his novels, his essays contain his philosophy, his views against industrialization, his belief in nature and his ideas on primitivism. They also reflect his thoughts and views regarding other topics in which he found interest like famous men, old tombs, faraway places and literary criticism. His essays illustrate his wide range of interest.

 Lawrence as an Essayist


When The Rainbow (1915) and Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928) were published, they were suppressed on grounds of obscenity. In both the novels, he exposed man-woman relationship in great physical detail and uninhibited language, which was considered vulgar. However, in Phoenix he states,'Obviously to read the really new novel will always hurt ... There will be resistance. The same with new pictures, new music. You may judge of their reality by the fact that they do arouse a certain resistance, and compel, at length, certain acquiescence... The great relationship for humanity will always be the relation between man and woman, parent and child will always be subsidiary.' He reiterated that no man, woman or children but it is 'the relation itself which is the quick and central clue to life."

He presented his own interpretation of life; he displayed hatred for the values effectuated by industrialization analog for the primitive and natural. He believed passionately in the development of individuality of man. He trusted his senses and experiences more than the intellect, 'All I want is to answer to my blood, direct without fribbling intervention of mind, or moral or what noaeThus, primitive instincts and urges, which impel the unconscious mind, are to him the most reliable thing in the world in this is reprieve passion and instinct is spiritual rather than animal; it is a sacred command. which is to be obeyed Emotions rather than reason are the best guide to life. In the essays "Fantasia of the Unconscious (1922 Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious (1923) and Apocalypse (1931) Lawrence wrote about his fundamental ideas which aid understanding of his philosophy. Lawrence wanted his readers to willing to believe in his views, which he believed would help renew man from the deadening effects of industrialization

 In the essay "Why the Novel Matters' (1925) Lawrence proclaimed that the novelist was superior to the poet, philosopher, scientist and the saint because they analyzed merely a part of the entire experience while the novelist was concerned with life as a whole. Sanders observes that Lawrence believed in "Life with a capital L is the only man alive." and that 'the fully vibrant human organism, formed the peak of an energetic hierarchy." Lawrence wrote, "All things that are dead are subsidiary to the living Better a live dog than a dead lion. But better a live lion than a live dog’ He exhorts, "Let us learn from the novel. In the novel, the characters can do nothing but live. If they keep on being good according to the pattern or bad, according to the pattern, or even volatile, according to a pattern, they cease to live, and the novel falls dead. A character in a novel has got to live or it is nothing.' The novel alone is capable of making us understand the concept of life. Thou Shalt Nots' cannot govern it. "To be alive, to be a man alive, to be the whole man alive: that is the point. And at its best, the novel, and the novel supremely, can help you. It can help you. It can help you not to be a dead man in life."

Lawrence rejected the forms of Christianity. He was more inclined to believe in Freud's philosophy. Sanders opines, "He secularizes both the idea of a brooding Holy Spirit and the interrelationships of life and death, death and resurrection; he secularizes the biblical language of possession and enthusiasm and he forges Christian images and metaphors into new often shocking) gaudy shapes." He wanted to form a modernist theology of " 'fulfilled and thoroughly integrated personality." His Freud inspired essays as well as 'Study of Hardy is as much about Hardy as about his own thoughts and beliefs, which form the basis of many of his novels. He believed that the future of the human race depended on the liberation of man and woman and attempted to distinguish between essential maleness and essential femaleness.

His essays are energetic, stating his original thoughts and feelings. According to Michael Squires, he becomes involved in them, his essays expose conflict and tension between 'equally strong but opposed forces-self-preservation and self-expression, stillness and activity, knowing and being, Christianity' and Judaism, male and female...' as in 'Study of Thomas Hardy. His essays on the art of the novelist are an attempt to understand his responsibility as a novelist. 'Introduction to Paintings' and "Etruscan Places' links philosophy of art with the creative sciences. In the former essay, he wrote, "Any creative act occupies the whole consciousness of man. This is true of the great discoveries of science as well as art." Lawrence believed that great discoveries of science and art are a result of the consciousness of man "Working together in unison and oneness, instinct, intuition, mind, intellect all fused into one complete consciousness."

Lawrence's essays expose his vision. He is frank, fearless and spontaneous. His appeal was one for integrity. He died as a nonentity but after his death, he has been recognized as a visionary thinker, a representative of the modern English tradition in literature.

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