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Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 5, Number 1 (January 2007) : 1--15
On the Road with D. H. Lawrence – or, Lawrence as Thought-Adventurer

Sandra M. Gilbert
Rubric A: History of Humanities

Abstract

 

Defining Lawrence’s “expository writings not as laboratory reports on experiments successfully concluded but as signposts to a road” traveled in his art, H. M. Daleski notes that these “theories were consistently modified by the artistic experience, which in turn led to further formulations.” Indeed, these continually revised and modified formulations of theories about almost everything constituted what Lawrence called “thought adventures”; in themselves they were signs of a yearning toward wholeness-in-duality that that can account for this writer’s special charisma. For Lawrence was not just a novelist, a poet, and a critic; he was also, in our current rather inadequate terminology, a public intellectual.

            To be “on the road” with D. H. Lawrence is to be engaged in an extraordinary thought adventure, accompanied by an unfailingly engaged and engaging commentator whose intellectual wholeness-in-duality was of a sort we rarely encounter on the contemporary literary scene. In developing this point, the article also argues that Lawrence’s great intellectual and creative adventure, though acutely modern, was also astutely anti-modernist. Although his early work was championed by such modernist luminaries as Ezra Pound and Ford Maddox Ford, by the end of his career he had become virtually the polar opposite of the quintessential modernist T. S. Eliot. Not coincidentally, perhaps, by the end of his career this thought adventurer addressed his ideas not just to an exclusively high cultural audience of the “fit though few” but to the masses among whom he could be, as he put it, “in the thick of the scrimmage.”

 


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