Defiant Desire: Some Dialectical Legacies of D.H. Lawrence

Synopsis

Kingsley Widmer, one of the most insightful and provocative learned critics, has long had a considerable influence on D. H. Lawrence studies. Here he elaborates the crucial argument that the erotic conversion experience and its dialectic of social negation centrally define Lawrence, thus creating his major legacies.

In dialectically considering all of Lawrence's novels and many of his essays and stories, Widmer carries the issues beyond the texts to Lawrence's literary and ideological inheritors, including Henry Miller and Norman Mailer. In addition, he imbeds Lawrence's fictions and roles in the "dark prophecy" of affirmatively countering the Nietzschean tradition and, in a striking chapter on Lady Chatterley's Lover explores the use of obscenity, sexual ideology, and anticlass utopianism. This is Lawrence as a major dissident culture hero with a still pertinent, drastic revisionism of human responses in a nihilistic world. It is a large and controversial critical view.