The exacting brilliance of D.H. Lawrence

April 1, 2015 Updated: April 23, 2016

Words are troublesome, they inflict on us the burden of comprehension, with which too many of us already have no understanding of. Yet, despite this worrisome axiom of writing, there are instances, rather individuals, whose definite talent in literature is so exacting that it forces us to come to terms with their genius, their brilliance, and even their predicaments. This is the case with D.H. Lawrence whose works are so overbearing, that they become insidiously too enjoyable, making it hard to put down anything that he has ever written-at times even demanding more than one read.

The solipsism of the philistines who proclaim D.H. Lawrence to be overrated are sometimes unscrupulously similarly overbearing-  the ones whose intellectual faculties are innately backward enough to enjoy the popular literature of our day, the one I dare say, that almost makes me wish I was illiterate so as to prevent me from reading such asininity. Even if one cannot come to terms with the content matter of Lawrence’s novels, it is not hard to see that this man’s grasp of the English language was nearly god-like.

And it truly is just that, narratives and the way they are produced, word by word, sentence by sentence in a linear, yet complex flow of associations, disassociation, relationships, characters, feelings, and gaudy descriptions. In every one of D.H Lawrence’s novels the language intercedes beautifully, to give remark to the tales of ordinary people in very much ordinary lives, surprisingly. Numerous novels, non-fiction books, collected works of letters, poems, and essays, all point to the literary mind of a genius, who also have played a substantial role in the dissolution of the greatest modern literary ideals of the 20th century.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Women in Love, Sons an Lovers. All masterpieces in the realization of human feelings and emotions that sometimes force us to question our own feelings of love, with the delusions associated with them. It is not solely about dissociation that plagues our petty human minds, rather the imperceptible notion of weakness that fills all of our lives, and all of our souls with something as simple yet as complex as words. There is no way to understand Lawrence’s novels without having experienced some of the things that Lawrence portrays. 

Lawrence himself had a compelling romantic life. He fell in love with a married woman that happened to have three children, and also happened to be the wife of his modern languages professor in Nottingham. He managed to persuade this woman who was most likely in a very much loveless marriage to run off with him, and divorce her old husband.

This woman was Frieda, a German-born lady, who married Lawrence in 1914, and after the First World War they traveled around the world, due to their general dislike of England, but also due to the general controversy that surrounded the censorship of his work. The amount of criticisms that he received due to his literary output was perhaps the most important factor in his own self-imposed exile from England, which is why he spent a great deal of his later career simply travelling the world as much as he could. 

He broke through the modern literary gates in 1913 with his autobiographical work Sons And Lovers known to me, and many more, as the best of his writing, which portrays the obvious close nature of his relationship with his mother. To read Lawrence is to dwell into what 100 years ago would be considered audacious profanity, and even raises brows today to the level of decency, especially in regards to Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Yet he portrays a stark reality of human nature, namely “the three letter word” known as sex, and the far more expressive word that usually means the same thing. 

Yet, Lawrence was also a deeply unsettling individual, in terms of his unstable political and philosophical notions that were expressed in most of his letters across his career. It is obvious that he did not care much for the democratic process, and although came from a working class background very much despised the promises of egalitarianism in their infancy. In a few instances throughout his novels he always presents the collective working classes as brutes, and machines. 

The legacy that D.H. Lawrence left behind however, is that of the strength of a writer to write what he/she pleases without fearing the public and their criticism. All of his work was exceptionally daring in the early 20th century, and although he escaped the attacks by leaving the country, he was always decried publicly by all critics, yet interestingly it is his name that lives on in the annals of literary history, not theirs.