D. H. Lawrence: Language and Being by Michael Bell

By Michael Bell

D. H. Lawrence as soon as wrote that 'we haven't any language for the feelings'. The comment testifies to the fight in his novels to precise his subtle figuring out of the character of being in the course of the intransigent medium of language. Michael Bell argues that Lawrence's retro prestige stems from a failure to understand inside of his casual expression the character and complexity of his ontological imaginative and prescient. He lines the evolution of the fight for its articulation in the course of the novels, and appears on the means within which Lawrence himself made it a unsleeping subject matter in his writing. Embracing during this argument Lawrence's mess ups as a author, his rhetorical stridency and in addition his primitivist extremism, Michael Bell creates a strong and clean experience of his real value as a novelist.

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Yet here again, as with the Annable/Lady Crystabel story, we feel only a compensatory recognition occurring in significant isolation from the topic on which it ought to bear. There is an important knot of feeling embedded in the slightly sentimental know­ ingness of the Cyril/Lawrence voice here, but its aphoristic separateness is a formal correlative of its relation to the narrative as a whole. It is an equivalent in the analytic sphere for personification in the sphere of emo­ tional responsiveness.

Yet it may be significant that Paul's remarks here relate to the spatial medium of painting rather than to the temporal medium of narrative. For the critical argument over Sons and Lovers concerns not the existence of this ability but the larger use to which it is put. If there is some tendentiousness about the work as a whole this is manifest at the level of strategic narrative control rather than of moment by moment description. This is not a novel in which we hear two voices; but that, many have alleged, is precisely its problem.

Hence the tendency, in some versions of this tradition, to spiritualise passion so as to play down the separateness of physical bodies . One form of this is the Shelleyan 'sister soul' ideal of loving identity. Wagner's Siegmund, of course, fell in love with his sister, Sieglinde. For Helena, a kiss is the supreme experience, which Lawrence describes with a revealing recourse, once again, to psychological generalisation: Suddenly she strained madly to him, and, drawing back her head, placed her lips on his, close, till at the mouth they seemed to melt and fuse together.

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