A "Strange Sapience": The Creative Imagination of D.H. Lawrence

A "Strange Sapience": The Creative Imagination of D.H. Lawrence

A "Strange Sapience": The Creative Imagination of D.H. Lawrence

A "Strange Sapience": The Creative Imagination of D.H. Lawrence

Excerpt

. . . to make a permanent core . . . a holy centre: whole, heal, hale. -- D. H. Lawrence, CL, 1031

I'll do my life work, sticking up for the love between man and woman. -- D. H. Lawrence, CL, 172

A psychoanalytic study of the creative process in D. H. Lawrence can offer a distinctive contribution to his development into an artist. Owing to two recent trends within psychoanalysis -- investigations into the earliest periods of an individual's life, and a subsequent emphasis on normal development -- it is now possible to examine more closely the formation and evolution of the human self. Out of primal fantasies and primal scenes, out of instinctual drives, their repressions and displaced representations, out of projection and reintrojection, out of primary harmony and primary chaos, a cohesive self emerges and begins to take shape in a world of other selves. It is in this still-perplexing world of early development that the formation of the artist also begins. Out of what Lawrence calls "fierce incongruities" issues in a broad sense the "strange sapience" of his art. To trace this unfolding is our present purpose.

But to reach a more precise and profound awareness of this writer's creative origins we must accommodate the interplay of diverse tongues. In its own right, the still-evolving language of psychoanalysis is often more richly evocative than scientifically decisive; while the variety of tongues and tones through which Lawrence spoke -- visionary, polemicist, critic, intimate, yet always intensely imaginative -- poses its own set of problems. Hence a unified mode of discourse drawing on these distinct linguistic worlds -- a mode that sacrifices as little as possible to the prerogatives of either -- is a goal that can only be approximated.

For example, when Lawrence in our epigraph contrasts the in-

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