Transformative Uses of Kabbalistic Concepts and Terms in The Rainbow

  • Charles Michael Burack


A version of the initiatory pattern that we detected in Lady Chatterley’s Lover first appears in The Rainbow, which Lawrence began writing in 1913 and completed in 1915.1 This should not be surprising because Lawrence was reading anthropological and Theosophical writings about initiation rites as early as 1908.2 But the initiatory pattern in The Rainbow is different from that found in subsequent novels in at least two important ways. First, the sacralization-destruction pattern is repeated four times: once in the portrayal of the anonymous premodern Brangwen generations, and again in the depictions of each of the three named, and progressively more modern, generations: those of Tom and Lydia, Anna and Will, and Ursula and Anton. Second and more importantly, the pattern is reversed, with the vitalization phase appearing first and gradually giving way to a disintegrative phase.Thus, as readers proceed through the novel, they experience a fourfold rhythm of rising and falling energy and of integrated and splintered forms of awareness. Moreover, in the representations of the early generations, the vitalization stages are longer and stronger than the destruction phases, whereas in the depictions of the later generations, the reverse is true.


Sexual Encounter Vitalization Phase Initiation Rite Initiatory Pattern Black Magic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Chapter Three Transformative Uses of Kabbalistic Concepts and Terms in The Rainbow

  1. 1.
    For a history of the novel’s composition, see Charles L. Ross, The Composition of “The Rainbow” and “Women in Love”:A History (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1979).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    See Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism (New York: Image Books, 1990 [19101) 176–97.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    For an account of Lawrence’s traumatic experience of World War I, see Paul Delany, D. H. Lawrence’s Nightmare:The Writer and His Circle in theYears of the Great War (NewYork: Basic Books, 1978).Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    For an influential study of the impact of Lawrence’s family experience on the gendering of his symbols, see H. M. Daleski, The Forked Flame: A Study of D. H. Lawrence (London: Faber and Faber, 1965).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Charles Michael Burack 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Michael Burack

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations