Wednesday, 30 July 2014

On D. H. Lawrence

Nobody here asked, but here I am, back from Paris and Barcelona! (Photos later)


Having tried several times to write about Lady Chatterley's Lover, and failed, I'm going to write about D. H. Lawrence.
[Limited, biased view, based on 1 single book Lady Chatterley's Lover plus the author's "Apropos..."] 

This author's irritating. His syntax. His excessive exclamation marks. His dashes. His repetitiousness. All these things seem like nothing but get on one's nerves like nails scratching continually at the door. Above all, his tone and personality, as felt in the narrator. 
Not that he's a bad writer. No. Many passages in the book are brilliant, some even ecstatic; Lady Chatterley's Lover also offers a new take on adultery, love and sex, and the relationship between the mind and the body (it can be said to be a response to Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, in some ways). But alas, all those talks about humanity and universe and class and social conflicts and life and nature and machines and industrialisation and civilisation and the leisure classes and the lower classes and the individual and the mass and mass products and bolshevism and England and illusion and hypocrisy and universal questions and beauty and mystery and men and women and the body and love and physical intimacy and orgasm and blah blah blah, they drive me crazy. Like Tolstoy, D. H. Lawrence wants to tackle big themes, to say lots of things, and to compress everything into his book, yet unlike Tolstoy, he lacks some kind of rhythm, some kind of flow, or simply some sensitivity, to weave them naturally into the narrative; moreover, he takes everything too seriously- all conversations are discussions, everything can be turned into a discussion, even sex and pleasure. In this book, everything is treated with seriousness and solemnity, as though the smallest, apparently most trivial bits have a much deeper meaning and significance. Talk talk talk, talk talk talk. D. H. Lawrence borrows Connie's voice to say that Marcel Proust "doesn't have feelings, he only has streams of words about feelings" (which, as written in the notes, is his true opinion)- I can say nothing about Proust, whose works I have not read, but in my humble opinion this line seems to apply well for D. H. Lawrence. 
It's, very often, horrible, even unbearable, in the 300 pages of the book. It's even worse in the 30 pages in which he discusses the book and some matters related to it. I wouldn't have invited him to dinner. Lots of times, in my reading, I only wanted to yell "Why so serious-sss?" (in the Joker's voice), or "Chill, man. Just chill." He takes everything so seriously that I feel as though he's incapable of pleasure and enjoyment. He probably can't have small talk either. 
In short, he's nuts. 
At the same time, I also feel that he doesn't see individuals, only humanity as a whole, or people before vs people "today" (he repeatedly says "today" and "nowadays" and "modern people"), or people as divided into his various categories. I like novels both to deal with individuals and to say something about humanity- this book doesn't really fit the 1st, and I'm afraid, nor the 2nd.
Then I feel that, perhaps he's on a different wavelength. I do like Lady Chatterley's Lover in some parts, and this book has quite an inexplicable power- even while feeling irritated, I didn't feel like I was forcing myself to continue, I just kept reading it. His other works may be different, or I may need a different mindset. 

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