Lawrence in 1912 prophetically wrote:
“I think the new generation is rather different from the old. I think they will read me more gratefully.
“Very few books of DHL’s are fully comprehensible unless one knows the personal circumstances; for, like Goethe’s, nearly all DHL’s “creative” writing is a projection of his own life. His opera omnia are huge autobiography embroidered.”—RICHARD ALDINGTON
Before his death, Lawrence was a pariah, living outside the herd and throwing bombs into it. Lawrence’s life and works have been subject to intensive scrutiny when he was alive comes as no surprise.
The English obituaries of Lawrence were generally hostile. They emphasised his perversity and the scandal attached to his works, and portrayed him, as Catherine Carswell complained, as a “morose, frustrated, tortured, even sinister failure.”
Lawrence died just as his books were beginning to earn money. His works continued to appear after his death and to increase the value of his literary estate.So popular, that the mania peaked in 1960, when Lawrence’s 1928 novel, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” became the subject of a historic obscenity trial, turning him into a mascot of the sexual revolution.
The first unexpurgated English edition of the novel (1960), which sold 3,225,000 copies in the first eight months—influenced the abolition of state censorship, freedom of language and sexual permissiveness as well as the acceptance of homosexuality and the salvation of touch.
If Lawrence had recovered from his illness, lived for another thirty years and completed a normal term of life~ fulfilling his dream of charting a boat and sailing around the Mediterranean to places he always wanted to visit: southern Spain, Yugoslavia, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and North Africa, and would have enjoyed the relative wealth he could have made from Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
Lawrence’s belief that “the greatest virtue in life is real courage, that knows how to face facts and live beyond them,” enabled him to defy social, political and literary conventions by eloping with Frieda, opposing the war and publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and to overcome, for five years and with consummate bravery, his agonising illness.
A novelist, a poet and a painter
Lawrence’s way of writing—relying on impulse rather than on logic—was quite unusual for a novelist.
He was a spontaneous, rapid writer as well as a critical reshaper of his works, and wrote The Trespasser twice, The White Peacock and Sons and Lovers three times. Lawrence had grown up with a large family in a small house, and so had developed great powers of concentration and the ability to write even when surrounded by noise and people.
But he was inspired by close contact with the natural surroundings.
In the mild Mediterranean climate, he preferred to go into the woods by himself and write with a pad on his knee and his back against the tree.
While living in the Villa Mirenda in October 1926, a single imaginative impulse inspired Lawrence to begin Lady Chatterley’s Lover and to start painting.
In “Making Pictures” (1929) he recalled:
“If Maria Huxley hadn’t come rolling up to our house near Florence with four rather large canvases, one of which she had busted, and presented them to me because they had been abandoned in her house, I might never have started on a real picture in my life.”
Lawrence’s paintings were a visual representation of the themes he simultaneously expressed in his writing: the resurrection of the flesh and triumph of pagan over Christian values.
Lawrence responded immediately to the empty canvases and found:
“It’s rather fun, discovering one can paint one’s own ideas and one’s own feelings—and a change from writing. . . . I like to paint rather wet, with oil, so the colour slips about and doesn’t look like dried bone.”
The most direct and powerful influences on Lawrence’s paintings are not Cézanne and the Post-Impressionists, but the tomb paintings of the ancient Etruscans.
Birds, Beasts and Flowers, taken from beginning to end, covers the years of Lawrence’s so-called ‘savage pilgrimage’: his travels around the globe after leaving England, as soon as peace had been declared, up to the start of his residence in America.
‘The poems of Birds, Beasts and Flowers were begun in Tuscany, in the autumn of 1920, and finished in New Mexico in 1923, in my thirty-eighth year‘, Lawrence wrote in the Preface to Collected Poems.
The poem which has always touched my heart is his ” Snake “, which I read as an adolescent .
There is a great lesson to be learned from his life, as aptly put by one of his oldest friends and staunchest defenders.
Catherine Carswell, has attested to his freedom, taste, imaginative power, truthfulness and fidelity:
He did nothing that he did not really want to do, and all that he most wanted to do he did. He went all over the world, he owned a ranch, he lived in the most beautiful corners of Europe. . . . He painted and made things, and sang and rode. He wrote something like three dozen books, of which even the worst page dances with life that could be mistaken for no other man’s, while the best are admitted, even by those who hate him, to be unsurpassed. [He was] without vices, with most human virtues, the husband of one wife, scrupulously honest.
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