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Amber Paulen

À Propos of Lady Chatterley's Lover and other essays

DH Lawrence

A Propos of 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'

22 September 2010


Since I finished Lady Chatterley’s Lover last week, I have continued to think about it. This condition has most likely been exacerbated by reading The First Lady Chatterley, or DH Lawrence’s first draft. It is rare to have the opportunity to read a first draft, so I took it. But I began after reading the A Propos.

DH Lawrence wrote Lady Chatterley’s Lover on the threshold of death; he wrote it in a forest of umbrella pines at the Villa Mirenda, in Florence. His frailty and sickness is evident in those feverish pages, as if Lawrence knew it was the last novel he would ever write. The novel had to sum up, and in a way eclipse, his whole philosophy he had developed over the whole of his life; that the book was banned is proof of the extent of which DH Lawrence succeeded. The A Propos was written as a defense to the backlash of criticism. In it, Lawrence defines his position, clearly and partially and not as elegantly as Lady Chatterley and Mellors do. Lawrence was one of those rare men whose life and deeds, deeds and thoughts, could not be separated.

But I stick to my book and my position: Life is only bearable when the mind and the body are in harmony, and there is a natural balance between the two, and each has a natural respect for the other. And it is obvious, there is no balance and no harmony now. The body is at best the tool of the mind, at the worst, the toy.

Sex, then, is a natural state of the body and thinking truthfully and openly about sex is a state of harmony between body and mind. When I read this essay years ago, my favorite quote was this:

Sex lashes out against false emotion, and is ruthless, devastating against false love.

So sex is also proof of mind-body harmony. Sex does not allow for the false constructions we adorn ourselves with day to day, the false faces and the false emotions; for false sex is bad sex and as good as no sex at all. DH Lawrence believed that to regain a sense of harmony and connection between the body and mind, it was necessary to free up the mind in sex matters. For in England and the USA at that time there were strict conventions towards what could be mentioned. Obviously these conventions have little place in our Western world today. What we have instead are sexual mimics and caricatures on TV, in advertising, and on the street. These bodies are what Lawrence calls the secondary life of the circus dog, acting up and showing off: and then collapsing.

If someone has real sex stirring away at the gut, there’s no way this someone is going to have to go looking for it. Sex will come to them. What we have today, according to DH Lawrence, is an inveterate sexlessness. Sexless has become sexy. Somehow the counterfeit emotion has won.

Perhaps this is because we continue to refuse to treat our bodies with respect, we refuse to awe sex and pay it its reverence. The natural state of humans is one of increasing disconnection; nature is being decimated to make more space for over-population, and with it goes our natural and vital relationship to the earth and the universe, sex included.

Vitally, the human race is dying. It is like a great uprooted tree, with its roots in the air. We must plant ourselves again in the universe.

I have started to read Beyond the Blue Horizon by E.C. Krupp. The book is a large collection of legends and myths once told about the sun, moon, planets and stars. When humans had questions about our existence, we looked up; in the sky and its predictable rhythms we saw our reflection. Just because we are cut off from the cycles of our planet doesn’t mean we have stopped needing them. I feel autumn approaching and begin to bunker down for hibernation; winter is time for quiescence and introspection, summer for action.

Our bodies are a part of nature and it is natural they should follow similar rhythms. What DH Lawrence calls the blood-marriage in the A Propos and tenderhearted fucking in Lady Chatterley’s Lover is sex in tune with the seasons, in tune with the mind, in tune with our true selves. Sex is a way of regaining our connections and natural balance.

Of course, there are some ideas in A Propos I don’t agree with. Lawrence was all for traditional marriage, which is odd really, for he knew a strong sex-bond was fidelity, so one hardly needs the church or government to prove it. He also agreed with the Catholic Church that women should cover their arms. But this was written eighty years ago and I shake off these beliefs as out-dated.

Yet the strength of Lady Chatterley’s Lover remains. Sex will always be a major and irrevocable part of our lives, whether it is used as power, or as revelation. As long as there is a barren dessert instead of a fecund natural awe and reverence for sex, Lady Chatterley’s Lover will always be a passionate counter.



Commentary for A Propos of 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'


1 On Saturday 15 January 2011 masonfreeparty wrote:

sex and the sixth F word are related to the saturn mindset so dont believe all the bullshit about Lawrence…he was a saturnist like his mate crowley…both evil fuckers!

2 On Saturday 15 January 2011 Amber wrote:

Well, I’m little inclined to believe in astrology. Anyway, belief in Lawrence seems besides the point, the books he wrote move me for whatever reason. Aleister Crowley never met Lawrence, according to this account, were hardly friends.

3 On Sunday 23 January 2011 Awatef wrote:

Lady Chatterly’s Lover is a ballon in which sex is the air for many characters. We can say that sex appeal or sexuality is typically related to the heritage. Connie s father has extreme sex desire and his daughter, Connie, too.
Sexscape may be the only refuge for somme characters that share the same sufferings and the same psychological problems.
Sex, which was a taboo for many centuries in Europe, becomes a true theme in many romans especially after the war.
D.H. Lawrence skillfully attacked this theme due to his use of the puppets and his settings which shape freedom of sex. Connie makes love in the forest floor, in nature: despite all things, she has orgasm and she fully enjoy her love-making discourse.


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