White peacock, fox, ladybird, kangaroo, flying fish, plumed serpent, escaped cock. Looking afresh at the titles of some of Lawrence’s fictions reminds us of a certain preoccupation with the creaturely; as it stands the list excludes St. Mawr, the novella whose title names a horse, and Women in Love, which constitutes perhaps Lawrence’s most sustained fictional treatment of animals. To draw attention thus to the fiction is to divert it from the poetry as the most obvious locus of Lawrence’s fascination with creatures: tortoises, elephants, dogs, bats, fish, goats, mosquitos, snakes, lions and wolves. In a very recent study, Amit Chaudhuri offers a challenging reassessment of this poetry of the creaturely. Dissenting from the established view of the success of these poems in evoking the peculiar integrity and difference of the non-human, Chaudhuri’s Lawrence embodies an ‘alternative aesthetic’. According to this, the artifice of the poems lies in a condition of intertextuality which requires a collective and participatory approach to the construction of the meaning of animals. Creatures emerge, not in the integrity of their otherness, but as unfinished and provisional elements in a process of bricolage; Lawrence’s necessary recourse to a pre-existent symbolic system produces an ‘exhibition of stuffed beasts and birds, his collection of textual mannequins, his pantomime of nature’.1


Clay Corn Radium Hunt Bark 


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  1. 3.
    Page references here are to J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals, ed. Amy Gutmann (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    D.H. Lawrence, ‘The Flying Fish’, in The Princess and Other Stories (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1980), p. 110.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Raymond Williams, Problems of Materialism and Culture (London: Verso, 1997), p. 96.Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    John Berger, About Looking (New York: Pantheon, 1980), p. 26Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    David Ellis, D.H. Lawrence: Dying Game 1922–1930 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 253.Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    James Wood, ‘A Frog’s Life’ (review of Elizabeth Costello), London Review of Books 25:20 (23 October 2003), p. 16.Google Scholar

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© Jeff Wallace 2005

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