I remember a wonderful week in my first year at Liverpool University when the trains were on strike and I was mean to be reading Spencer’s epic Faerie Queen. Lewis’s was a huge department store next to the station and they had a paperback section where most of DHLawrence’s stories were sold in Penguin editions. So each day I would travel into University reading Lawrence’s tales on a coach and as Kate Bush’s Cathy once sung of Heathcliff: I’ loved him and hated him too’. Returning to him again after years( with the exception of his novella The Virgin and the Gypsy) I still felt the peculiar rush of exasperation at Lawrence’s strutting arrogance as he attempts to capture the imaginative singularity of emotional conflict in relationships, particularly within heterosexual marriage. And I do qualify this so ponderoulsy as I am never quite sure if Lawrence is not secretly trying out his own desire for another type of marriage whilst chastising the shortcomings of over zealous, dominant women!
Angel Carter once wrote a stunning essay entitled: ‘Lorenzo the closet Queen’ as he seemed to her very interested in rooting through Gudrun’s stockings in Women in Love. This aside, I just wanted to make a note today of his simultaneous brilliance and oddity…the latter being a polite term for his arrogant assumption that his reading of relationships transcends any other pyschological reality. He is a seer, a shaman, a savage pilgrim!
But then no one does hatred and repulsion as well as Lawrence. And that is one reason I admire him despite my anger too. In ‘Sun’ the wife is ‘healed’ from the sickness of corrupt modernity through her erotic connection to the purity of the sun and reflects that the ‘unsunned’ were ‘So un-elemental…so like graveyard worms. ‘ The souls of such human beings are therefore ‘cowed’ and the wife’s new naked, sunned natural life with her family in some Grecian garden makes her view her ‘grey’ visiting tourist of a husband as furtive,( DHL’s favourite put down?) This distaste then fuels her silent attraction to DHL’s favourite fantasy figure, the unspeaking working man whose beckoning sexual ‘flame’ makes the wife and he ‘intimate’ – at a distance! The desperate ‘mongrel cowering ‘of the American husband is opposed to the ‘hot shy peasant’ who would have provided her with ‘a procreative sunbath’!
Is it any wonder indeed that people go on holiday!
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