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literature

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Lawrence, D. H. (1885-1930)  
 
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Excised from the final text by Lawrence himself, the Prologue reveals in great detail Rupert Birkin's struggle against overwhelming homosexual longings. It was not published until 1965 and was not included in an edition of Women in Love until 1987.

Hocking himself is probably twice alluded to in the Prologue in the description of the "strange Cornish type of man, with dark eyes likes holes in his head" who powerfully attracts Birkin as well as in the minor character of William Hosken.

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The Rupert of the Prologue is torn not only between females and males, but between "two classes of men," the "white-skinned, keen limbed men with eyes like blue-flashing ice and hair like crystals of winter sunshine" and "men with dark eyes that one can enter and plunge into, bathe in as in liquid darkness." Although Rupert wants to "cast out these desires," he senses that a "man can no more slay a living desire in him" than "he can prevent his body from feeling heat and cold."

Despite the potential for true passion and tenderness between men--glimpsed in the famous wrestling sequence in the novel's "Gladiatorial" chapter and in Gerald's nursing of Rupert in the chapter "Man to Man"--real devotion between men is stymied by a failure of nerve.

Nonetheless, the tragedy of Gerald's death is undercut by Women in Love's extraordinary concluding endorsement of bisexuality. "You can't have two kinds of love," Ursula insists to Birkin after Gerald's body has been buried, as she dismisses Birkin's ideas as "an obstinacy, a theory, a perversity." Rupert's response and Women in Love's final sentence is a refusal to accept a delimited heterosexual arrangement: "I don't believe that."

Aaron's Rod

In affirming same-sex friendship, Lawrence typically contrasted his all-male idylls with effete homosexual men, while portraying women as upholders of suffocating marital convention. In Aaron's Rod, a coal miner leaves his fatuous wife, takes up the flute, and travels to Italy to join the free-spirited Rawdon Lily.

There he encounters a group of vacationing English exiles, whose homosexuality is implied in their doting interest in the working-class Aaron as well as in their social cattiness. (Wilde's friend Reggie Turner appears in the biting portrait of Algy Constable, "flapping his eyelids like some crazy owl.") The novel concludes with Rawdon beseeching Aaron to submit to the demands of his own soul.

Homosexual Themes in Later Works

Lawrence returned to homosexual themes in episodes in later works, among them the "Nightmare" chapter of Kangaroo (1923), as well in several short stories. His tales "The Blind Man" (1924) and "Jimmy and the Desperate Woman" (1928) both powerfully recast the familiar Lawrentian scenario in which homoerotic affection threatens--yet also complements--an unsatisfying marital relationship.

Conclusion

Lawrence's genius consists in his emphasis on the barely articulated, unconscious dynamics of homoerotic relations as they move in a state of crisis, flux, and cathartic confrontation. His willingness to transcend the conventions of the nineteenth-century novel, subverting what he once characterized as the "old, stable ego," and, in turn, the stable sexual self, enabled him at his best to depict the experimental excitement of same-sex relations.

Alone among writers of the period, he brought to the theme of homosexuality a genuine working-class perspective. A self-proclaimed enemy of the hyperarticulated sexuality of forward-thinking individuals, he was, paradoxically, himself the great novelist of the painfully unsayable. It was a gift that rendered Lawrence exceptionally adept at apprehending the "unspeakable" promptings of same-sex desire.

A ferociously brilliant artist, he remains one of the most forcefully imaginative, complicated, and least understood navigators of homosexual consciousness in the twentieth century.

Richard Kaye

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    Bibliography
   

Aldington, Richard. D.H. Lawrence: Portrait of a Genius, But... New York: Collier Books, 1950.

Delaney, Paul. D.H. Lawrence's Nightmare: The Writer and His Circle in the Year of the Great War. New York, The Free Press, 1978.

Delavenay, Emile. D.H. Lawrence and Edward Carpenter: A Study in Edwardian Transition. London: Heinmann, 1971.

Kermode, Frank. D.H. Lawrence. New York: Viking Press, 1973.

Lawrence, Frieda. Not I, But the Wind.... London: Heinmann, 1935.

Meyers, Jeffrey. D.H. Lawrence. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1960.

Moore, Harry T. The Priest of Love. New York: Penguin, 1976.

Sagar, Keith. D.H. Lawrence: Life Into Art. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985.

Stevens, C. J. Lawrence at Tregerthen (D.H. Lawrence in Cornwall). Troy, New York: Whitson Publishing Co., 1988.

Worthen, John. D.H. Lawrence: The Early Years, 1885-1912. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Kaye, Richard  
    Entry Title: Lawrence, D. H.  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated March 2, 2004  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/lawrence_dh.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  
 

 

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