D.H. Lawrence and Survival

D.H. Lawrence and Survival: Darwinism in the Fiction of the Transitional Period

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    D.H. Lawrence and Survival
    Book Description:

    Granofsky shows that Lawrence's deliberate use of Darwinian elements in his narrative strategy occurred at a time when he was increasingly concerned about survival, both personally, due to illness, and as an artist. The result in his fiction is a subtext in which his anxieties are projected onto female characters and the evolution of his writing is frustrated by unresolved emotional conflicts. Through new readings of the major fiction of Lawrence's transitional period, Granofsky demonstrates that Lawrence's deterioration as a writer and the misogyny of his later work was primarily the result of a deliberate effort on his part to move the ideological yardsticks of his fiction.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7107-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    The fiction of D.H. Lawrence, particularly the novels, brings to my mind an old English nursery rhyme about a “pretty little girl with the pretty little curl, right in the middle of her forr’id”: when Lawrence is good, he is very, very good, but when he is bad, he is horrid. My initial reading of Lawrence’s fiction occurred in a telescoped way: all of the novels and most of the other fiction in the space of about two years. What puzzled me most was how a novelist who could at times write so well was also capable of penning such...

  6. 1 Lawrence and Darwin
    (pp. 12-42)

    InDarwin’s Plots(1983), Gillian Beer examines Darwin’s rhetoric and how his mode of expressing his discoveries had inevitable consequences for the fiction that followed the publication of his major findings. Because of its preoccupation with time, as Beer points out, evolutionary theory has “inherent affinities with the problems and processes of narrative” (7). It affected the novel of the nineteenth century “not only at the level of theme but at the level of organisation” (8). In particular, “[t]hemethodsof scientists become the methods of emplotment, and scientific theories suggest new organisations for fiction” (161). George Levine, also focusing...

  7. 2 Food and Illness: Survival in the Ladybird Novellas
    (pp. 43-84)

    The Ladybird, The Fox, and The Captain’s Dollwere three companion novellas that Lawrence wrote late in 1921 and that he wished to keep together in one volume.¹ Precisely because each one is short enough for Lawrence to manipulate and yet long enough to be exploratory, they represent, more than any other fiction of the 1919–22 period, the transition Lawrence was trying to effect between his concern for marriage (and all it connotes in Lawrence) and for leadership (with all its attendant baggage).²

    In many ways, the three novellas are typically Lawrentian. There is in each the “archetypal” male...

  8. 3 Confinement and Survival in The Lost Girl and Aaron’s Rod
    (pp. 85-123)

    In the transitional fiction we are concerned with, there is generally a bi-level narrative structure. On the “upper” level, Lawrence’s intentions are worked out consciously through some variant of his own version of the Sleeping Beauty tale in conjunction with a number of evolutionary concepts. On a “lower” level, like a hidden current flowing against the waves, the author’s intentions are subtly subverted by survival anxiety that is largely unconscious and that we are able to perceive only by cracking the code signalled by inappropriate imagery or plot turn. L.D. Clark argues that the novels betweenWomen in Loveand...

  9. 4 Death and Survival in the Stories of England, My England
    (pp. 124-166)

    Like the threeLadybirdnovellas, many of the stories in the volumeEngland, My Englandwere written and even published earlier than their collective publication by Thomas Seltzer in 1922 would indicate. The title story of the volume, “England, My England,” for instance, was first published in theEnglish Reviewof October 1915, a few months after its composition. As was the caseThe Captain’s Doll,The Fox, andThe Ladybird, Lawrence refashioned many of these stories a few years after the end of the war – in the case of “England, My England,” the revisions were complete by December 1921...

  10. Conclusion The Writer as Gamekeeper
    (pp. 167-170)

    In the end, of course, Lawrence did not survive beyond middle age; he was not terribly fit in the Darwinian sense. At his death, however, he faced his failure to survive bravely, “dying game” in the words of David Ellis’s biographical title (taken from a Lawrence letter). He lost out in terms of sexual selection as well in the sense that, although he mated, he did not pass on his genetic material to the next generation, almost certainly because of illness-induced sterility. Lawrence knew that he was not to be lucky in the lottery of natural and sexual selection, and...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 171-198)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 199-208)
  13. Index
    (pp. 209-212)