D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love

D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love

D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love

D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love

Synopsis

Selections of literary criticism on Lawrence's novel "Women in Love."

With Women in Love (1916, published 1920), D. H. Lawrence presents his aesthetic, social, and sexual manifesto, a novel that raises disturbing questions about the possibilities, limitations, and dangers of human bonds. In industrialized Edwardian England, Lawrence presents two men and two women struggling to define their relationships within societal confines. Ursula Brangwen and Rupert Birkin, Lawrence's fictionalized portraits of himself and his wife Frieda, seek an escape from the death-in-life of conventional marriage through their sexual and emotional union. Ursula's sister Gudrun and Gerald Crich, however, are a study in mutual destruction: their union is explosive and deathly, while Gerald and Rupert cannot find an appropriate medium for union. Criticized during Lawrence's lifetime for its erotic explicitness, Women in Love has come to be recognized as a powerful plea for the need of a new sexual and human morality.

D. H. Lawrence's Women in Love is one of over 100 volumes in the "Modern Critical Interpretations" series, edited and introduced by Harold Bloom and published by Chelsea House. Taken together, these volumes represent a comprehensive collection of the best current criticism of the most widely read poems, novels, stories, and dramas of the Western World.

Excerpt

Lawrence, hardly a libertine, had the radically Protestant sensibility of Milton, Shelley, Browning, Hardy—none of them Eliotic favorites. To say that Lawrence was more a Puritan than Milton is only to state what is now finely obvious. What Lawrence shares with Milton is an intense exaltation of unfallen human sexuality. With Blake, Lawrence shares the conviction that touch, the sexual sense proper, is the least fallen of the senses, which implies that redemption is most readily a sexual process. Freud and Lawrence, according to Lawrence, share little or nothing, which accounts for Lawrence’s ill-informed but wonderfully vigorous polemic against Freud:

This is the moral dilemma of psychoanalysis. The analyst set
out to cure neurotic humanity by removing the cause of the
neurosis. He finds that the cause of neurosis lies in some
unadmitted sex desire. After all he has said about inhibition
of normal sex, he is brought at last to realize that at the root
of almost every neurosis lies some incest-craving, and that
this incest-craving is not the result of inhibition and normal
sex-craving
. Now see the dilemma—it is a fearful one. If the
incest-craving is not the outcome of any inhibition of nor
mal desire, if it actually exists and refuses to give way before
any criticism, what then? What remains but to accept it as
part of the normal sex-manifestation?

Here is an issue which analysis is perfectly willing to face.
Among themselves the analysts are bound to accept the
incest-craving as part of the normal sexuality of man, nor
mal, but suppressed, because of moral and perhaps biologi
cal fear. Once, however, you accept the incest-craving as

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