Netsearch: D.H. Lawrence (20 minutes)
Students use search engines to find information about their topic. They collect
interesting text fragments (select/copy/paste) and illustrations (click with right mouse
button/copy/paste), which are saved in a temporary file.
Students will especially try to select information which may link D.H. Lawrence with
the subjects of previous lesson: double morality in the Victorian Era and
industrialization, which he opposed so much.
|The numbers 1 and 2 concentrate on "D.H. Lawrence: biographical facts"|
|The numbers 3 concentrate on "D.H. Lawrence: literary production and themes"|
Group assembly and exchange of information (15 minutes)
Completion group document (10 minutes)
Lawrence, who came from a working-class family in the industrial Midlands, was an outsider
in the literary world of his time. Not that he was not well educated, as has sometimes
been suggested. Besides a deep knowledge of the Bible which was read daily in his parents'
Congregational household, and an acquaintance with the great French and English realists
of the 19th century, he had also acquired an excellent formal schooling at a Training
College in Nottingham; his first novel, The White Peacock (1911), indeed bristles
with quotations from and allusions to other works of art. But he had, for better of for
worse, never known the carefree sheltered youth which most of his middle-class or
upper-class fellow writers had enjoyed.
As a child he had been shocked by the physical
and moral ugliness which an industrial civilization had inflicted upon men's lives. All
his life he was to attack industrialism and the cult of the mind which he believed was
responsible for all the evils and shortcomings of our civilization. His marriage with the
German-born divorcee Frieda von Richthofen seems to have strengthened his almost German
belief in the blood and the flesh. "We can go wrong in our minds, he wrote,
but what the blood feels, and believes, and says, is always true". He travelled
all his life hoping to find a healthier way of life, a civilization which would be less
intellectualistic and more organically linked with the deep forces of life. Like so many
other Englishmen (ex. E.M.Forster), he looked for it in Italy and Sicily, but failed to
find it there. His travels brought him to Australia and later to New M.exico, which
provided him with new materials for his novels Kangaroo, (l923) and The Plumed
Serpent (1926), but which never enabled him to realize his dreams. He remained
perpetually on the move until he died of tuberculosis.
Aldous Huxley, who knew him well, writes about
him in what I believe to be one of the best essays on D.H. Lawrence : "To be with
Lawrence was a kind of adventure, a voyage of discovery into newness and otherness.(...)
He looked at things with the eyes, so it seemed, of a man who had been on the brink of
death and to whom, as he emerges from the darkness, the world reveals itself as
unfathomably beautiful and mysterious.. (...) A walk with him in the country was a walk
through that marvellously rich and significant landscape which is at once the background
and the principal personage of all his novels. He seemed to know, by personal experience,
what it was like to be a tree or a daisy or a breaking wave or even the mysterious moon
itself. He could get inside the skin of an animal and tell you in the most convincing
detail how it felt and how, dimly, inhumanly, it thought". (Introduction to The
Letters of D.H. Lawrence, 1932 and reprinted in The Olive Tree (1936)..
His belief in Nature also expressed itself in a
strong interest in sex. Here again early influences seem to have deeply affected him. On
the one hand his parents were never really happy together; life at home seems to have
suggested to D.H. Lawrence that the relation between the sexes was a continuous battle for
supremacy and one can understand why all his life he strove after a perfect relationship.
On the other hand, he seems to have been strongly attached to his mother; the difficulty
he had to sever the bond with her can be guessed from the mainly autobiographical Sons
and Lovers (1913) where the conflict between the son and the lover in him is
portrayed. His concern with valid sexual relations made him write novels which were for a
long time considered obscene; whatever one may think of the actual descriptions, in them
it is certain that he was a profoundly serious man.
(Prof. H. Servotte, English Literature in the Twentieth Century,
Survey and Anthology, 1969, I. pp. 24-30)