The Plumed Serpent is a novel written by D.H. Lawrence, and first published in 1926. D.H. Lawrence is best remembered for Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a novel that was considered to be extremely obscene for its time. The Plumed Serpent was written when Lawrence was living in Taos, New Mexico, and originally wanted to call the book “Quetzalcoatl” after the Aztec god. His publisher, however, changed the title to something he thought more acceptable, although Lawrence apparently hated the it.
The Plumed Serpent is set in Mexico during the Revolution. A group of tourists is visiting Mexico City, attending a bullfight. One of the group, Kate Leslie, leaves in disgust and runs into Don Cipriano, a general in the Mexican Army. Don Cipriano introduces her to Don Ramon, and the three travel to the town of Sayula, where the two men are attempting to revive the ancient Aztec religion. Kate is eventually seduced into joining their cult.
Many critics have charged that The Plumed Serpent is reflective of Lawrence’s proto-fascist political leanings, and reveals the author’s belief that women should be submissive to men. Lawrence conceived the novel during a trip to Mexico, where he visited the ruins of Mexico’s pre-Columbian Aztec civilization, Teotihuacan. Lawrence does not seem to have come away from his travels with a positive outlook on the Mexican people, declaring that they needed a new religion. From this, the seeds of The Plumed Serpent were born.