The Vital Art of D.H. Lawrence: Vision and Expression


D.H. Lawrence, asserts Jack Stewart, expresses a painter's vision in words, supplementing visual images with verbal rhythms. With the help of twenty-three illustrations, Stewart shows how Lawrence's style relates to impressionism, expressionism, primitivism, and futurism.

Stewart examines Lawrence's painterly vision in The White Peacock, Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love, Kangaroo, and The Plumed Serpent. While many critics find Georgian pastoralism in The White Peacock, Stewart finds the influence of modernist aesthetics, from Beardsley's erotic drawings to the case of urban impressionism Lawrence draws upon in the London scenes. Critics stress Lawrence's master realism in Sons and Lovers, but as Stewart demonstrates, that realism is increasingly supplemented by impressionism, symbolism, and even expressionism. In that novel, Lawrence presents reality through an objective style that interacts with subjective modes to sustain an expressive image of life. In The Rainbow, Lawrence advances beyond realism to a new style that, with violent projections of "soul-states" and distortions of natural imagery, parallels expressionism in the visual arts. Stewart also explores three art movements in Women in Love: expressionism, primitivism, and futurism.

The final three chapters deal with the influence exerted on Lawrence's fiction by the work of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin, and the Japanese artists Hokusai and Hiroshige. Stewart concludes by synthesizing the themes that pervade this interarts study: vision and expression, art and ontology.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Carbondale, IL
Publication year:
  • 1999


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