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D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) was an English writer, perhaps best known for his novel Lady Chatterley's Lover, which was considered to be highly obscene at its publication in 1928. Lawrence also wrote numerous short stories and poems, plays and essays. D.H. Lawrence's writing was often a reflection of the dehumanization of the modern world, but his many critics charged that he was wasting his talents writing pornography. However, Lawrence's historical reputation has been resurrected, and he now seen as one of the leading literary voices from the first decades of the 20th century.
The following are a few of D. H. Lawrence's more infamous works:
- Lady Chatterley's Lover
- The Lost Girl
- Women in Love
- Sea and Sardinia
- Touch and Go
David Herbert Richards Lawrence was born to a working-class family in England's Nottinghamshire. Eventually, he received a teaching certificate from University College, Nottingham, and began his writing career tentatively, working on poems and short stories before writing his first novel The White Peacock, which appeared in 1911. After moving to London in 1908, D.H. Lawrence began selling his short stories, and produced the novels Sons and Lovers and The Trespassers. In March 1912, he met Frieda Weekley, an older married woman, and the two began an affair which lasted the rest of Lawrence's life.
After World War I, Lawrence spent the rest of his life away from England, a period he referred to as a "savage pilgrimage." Eventually, he wound up in America, where he wrote Lady Chatterley's Lover. The full, uncensored version did not appear in print until 1960.
D. H. Lawrence was a product of the changing times that men and women experienced in Post World War I in their relationships. Economics forced women into the work force, as men were busy in battle. When men returned from the war, a new dynamic was apparent in the structure of relationships as independent females startled the traditional roles men had previously expected. Lawrence was, at times, party to the knee-jerk reaction of chauvinism against these roles and a new found cynicism towards love. However, for the most part, D. H. Lawrence served as a careful observer of a social revolution and recorded the trysts between the sexes as they occurred in society and in him.
Lawrence does not see love as a grand spectacle of power and might, but rather as a quiet reality that can destroy even the most passionate emotions and render both parties to lives of what Emerson would call "quiet desperation". The spoils of love are found in the subtleties of life, such as starring at a dead husband and realizing that you never really knew who he was. The slow draining of life from a couple who has lost love destroys life more than a turbulent romance of pain and emotion. The spoils of love are found in reality, knowing the lover and seeing the true nature of a man or a woman.
D. H. Lawrence was one of the most influential writers of his time as he was one of the first authors to speak frankly in the post-romanticism of the early to mid 20th Century. Feminists have taken up against Lawrence for his portrayals of women. However, Brenda Maddox admits, "When Lawrence got going, he almost always went too far, but hitting a nerve of truth on the way" (215).