The Destruction Phase of Lady Chatterley’s Lover

  • Charles Michael Burack


In late October 1926, two weeks after telling Frieda he would “never write another novel,” Lawrence began writing Lady Chatterley’s Lover.1 He finished the third and final version in January 1928. His letters from that period indicate he powerfully identified with the novel and considered it as precious and frail as his self. Fearing public outcry and government censorship, he initially had no desire to publish the manuscript. Only after considering private publication did he resolve to rewrite and publish the work. While some critics have considered the novel one of the worst of his major fictions, he thought it a consummation of his creative efforts:

It’s what the world would call very improper. But you know it’s not really improper—I always labour at the same thing, to make the sex relation valid and precious, instead of shameful. And this novel is the furthest I’ve gone. To me it is beautiful and tender and frail as the naked self is, and I shrink very much even from having it typed. Probably the typist would interfere.2

In contrast to this positive self-assessment, even so extreme an advocate as E R. Leavis considers the novel overly “deliberate” and “calculated.”3 And Michael Squires, who has studied the novel’s composition, deems it “schematic” (168).


Mental Life Destruction Phase Destructive Phase Dualistic Thinking Castration Anxiety 
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Chapter One The Destruction Phase of Lady Chatterley’s Lover

  1. 3.
    E R. Leavis, D. H. Lawrence: Novelist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955) 74.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    See Joan D. Peters, “The Living and the Dead: Lawrence’s Theory of the Novel and the Structure of Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” D. H. Lawrence Review 20.1 (Spring 1988) 5–20. Her analysis mostly underscores differences in concreteness in the metaphors in the two halves.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    See Richard Ellmann, The Identity of Yeats (NewYork: Oxford University Press, 1964) 151–64.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    See Kate Millett, Sexual Politics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1969) 237–45.Google Scholar
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  6. 13.
    See Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father:Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation (Boston: Beacon, 1973)Google Scholar
  7. Rosemary R. Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology (Boston: Beacon, 1983).Google Scholar
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    See Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975), Visual and Other Pleasures (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989) 14–26.Google Scholar
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    See Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction (New York: Random House, 1978).Google Scholar
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    See Philip Rieff, Freud: The Mind of the Moralist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959) 5–6.Google Scholar
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  15. 27.
    P. D. Ouspensky, Tertium Organum: A Key to the Enigmas of the World, trans. E. Kadloubovsky and P. D. Ouspensky (New York: Knopf, 1981 [1920]) 197.Google Scholar
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    Dorrit Cohn, Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978) 26–33.Google Scholar
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    William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (New York: New American Library, 1958 [1902]) 123–4.Google Scholar

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© Charles Michael Burack 2005

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  • Charles Michael Burack

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