• F. B. Pinion
Part of the Literary Companions book series (LICOM)


The weakness in form which is apparent in most of Lawrence’s major works reflects his individuality. Anything contrary to his spontaneous self was inimical to life. Form was mechanical; he saw its deadening effect in Flaubert and Thomas Mann. In response to his passional creative self, he preferred to rewrite rather than plan fastidiously or subject his work to intensive critical revision. The cult of spontaneity has obvious dangers; it can create illusions of grandeur and liveliness even in lapses and longueurs, and the self-congratulation engendered in Lawrence by his latest writing is amply testified in his letters. Disproportion, turgidity, repetitiousness, and lack of precision at critical points will be found in his greatest novels, The Rainbow and Women in Love. When imaginative inspiration dies, impatience leads to the didactic authorial self-expression of Aaron’s Rod and Kangaroo. Lawrence’s problem was to subordinate his metaphysic to art rather than the reverse. He did not care for ‘neat works of art’, believing that an author should present the ‘scrimmage’ of life rather than an isolated stage-spectacle (22.i.25). ‘Art for my sake’ meant writing when he wanted to write, a readiness to re-create rather than ‘trim and garnish’, and to write what he enjoyed irrespective of the reader (24.xii.12, 12 and 17.i.13). Auden concluded that ‘the spirit has failed to make itself a body fit to live in’ in many of Lawrence’s poems. Immediacy of experience is often weakened by diffuseness, and they rarely approach perfection of form.


Deadening Effect Creative Pressure Holy Ghost Spontaneous Living Late Writing 
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© F. B. Pinion 1978

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