Science, Ideology and the ‘New’

  • Jeff Wallace


In Lawrence’s novel The Rainbow (1915), the Brangwens of the mid-nineteenth century experience industrial technology in the body: the winding engines of the pit become ‘a narcotic to the brain’, the whistle of the trains re-echoes ‘through the heart’. The variations in Lawrence’s fictional treatment of the relationship between humans, technology and the natural world suggest a constant process of reappraisal. At the beginning of the story ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’ (1911), for example, a nameless woman stands ‘insignificantly trapped between the jolting black waggons and the hedge’ as a locomotive thumps past on its way to Brinsley Colliery. Despite the engine’s ‘loud threats of speed’, however, it is ‘outdistanced at a canter’ by the colt which is startled from the ‘flickering’ gorse.1 Revisiting this scenario in Women in Love (1920), Gerald Crich holds his terrified Arab mare to the level-crossing gate while the train goes past, in a display of power which horrifies the watching Brangwen sisters. A one-legged signalman observes the scene from the safety of his ‘little signal-hut’, ‘like a crab from a snail-shell’ (WL 93), while further on, near a second level crossing, a disused and rusting industrial boiler has been reclaimed by hens and wagtails.


Labour Movement Living Thing Christian Theology School Inspector Beautiful Thing 
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© Jeff Wallace 2005

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  • Jeff Wallace

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