1. Victorian Age 2.D.H.Lawrence 3.Chrysanthemums 4.Analysis 5.Optical illusions

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Lesson plan

  1. 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.

bulletThe numbers 1 and 2 concentrate on "D.H. Lawrence: biographical facts"
bulletThe numbers 3 concentrate on "D.H. Lawrence: literary production and themes"
  1. Group assembly and exchange of information (15 minutes)

  2. Completion group document (10 minutes)

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D.H. LAWRENCE (1885-1930)

D.H. 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)

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Useful links

bulletBiography of D.H. Lawrence
bulletD.H. Lawrence
bulletA view on D.H. Lawrence
bulletThe D.H. Lawrence Review
bulletD.H. Lawrence: literary works and criticism

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