"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Literature in the News: D. H. Lawrence Statue in Nottinghamshire

This is exciting news for me.  I love D. H.Lawrence’s writing.  I did my Master’s Thesis on his late fiction.  I haven’t read and written much on Lawrence on my blog, mainly because when one does a large post graduate thesis on an author, one has to read his works and read about him so extensively that one is so saturated that when it’s all over one needs to have distance.  It’s a like a friend that has over stayed his visit, and so one doesn’t want to see or hear from him for a while.  I think I spent nearly two entire years saturated with Lawrence.  I do plan to read his novella, The Virgin and the Gypsy, as I stated in my plans for 2015, and I’ll probably start it next month.

There is just so much of Lawrence.  He died at forty-four years old, which is so young.  But he wrote eleven novels, and some of them have more than one version.  He wrote three volumes of short stories, a collection of poetry that amounts to a thousand pages, a couple of volumes of essays, a few travel books, a history, several novellas, and some books on psychology.  It’s incredible to think how much he was able to write in so little time. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly endorse all his ideas or even think some of it is profound.  His ideas on human psychology can be rather silly, and his antagonism toward feminism (he blamed feminists for World War 1) is excessive beyond reason.  But some of it is profound, especially the male-female relationship in their religious context.  When Lawrence is profound he captures sexuality as a divine endeavor, a meeting with the transcendent.  His religion is certainly not your traditional Christianity, and later in his career was not Christianity at all.  Still his great works are well worth reading.  The best of his poetry is among the best in the 20th century, and I can’t think of a better British short story writer.  His great novels are Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.  If you’re starting out with Lawrence, take either the first of the four or the last.  The two middle works are difficult.  What really enthralls me about Lawrence is not his ideas, but the beautiful prose writing.  I consider him among the best prose writers of the English language.

The BBC has just put out a version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and here is the trailer.  It’s only out in Britain at the moment, but hopefully coming to the States shortly. 

From the discussions on the D. H. Lawrence forum I am a member, the consensus of those who have seen the series is that it doesn’t do the novel justice.  Judging from the trailer it seems that they over did the sexuality.  There is more to Lawrence than just the sex.

What really inspired this post was that Nottinghamshire, the county of Lawrence’s native city of Eastwood, is planning to put up a statue to the writer.  From the Nottingham Post:  

Plans are underway to build a statue for Nottinghamshire son and acclaimed writer DH Lawrence in his hometown of Eastwood.

Members of the author's appreciation society, staff at the Lawrence Heritage Centre, University of Nottingham staff and Eastwood MP Gloria De Piero came together to flesh out early plans on Thursday afternoon.

Lawrence sought considerable inspiration from Eastwood and the surrounding countryside which is echoed in his work including his semi-autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers.

It is hoped a permanent statue will cement the town's relationship with the author as it continues to capitalise on his reputation and popularity.

I’m wondering what this statue will look like.  Will it reflect the clean shaven Lawrence of his youth and his time in Nottinghamshire or the elder Lawrence with his iconic beard, as in this photo?

I just hope it’s a good likeness and not some contrived modernist statue.  Lawrence would have hated that.  The sculptor will need to somehow capture a Lawrentian naturalism.  

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