Thursday, December 15, 2016



D. H. Lawrence, 1929

D.H. Lawrence introduces his views of the novel to the readers by referring to the common thinking among people that they are a body with a spirit or a soul or a mind in it. A proverb to this effect, namely, “A sound body in a sound mind” has been framed. According to D.H. Lawrence, this idea of ourselves as a body with a spirit or a soul or a mind in it is a funny superstition.
D.H. Lawrence asks why we should make a difference between the hand that writes and the mind that directs the hand to write. He feels that the hand is as full of life, and that it learns and knows as many things as the mind is and does. Our hand is alive upto the finger tips but the pen with which we write is not alive.

D.H. Lawrence argues that every bit of our body, like the hand or the hair, or the skin is alive. As he says, ‘whatever is me alive is me’. We are completely wrong in comparing any part of our body with a bottle or a jug or a tin can, or a vessel of clay because while each tiny part of our body is full of life as the whole body, a bottle or a jug is inanimate.
That every bit of our body is alive is what we know when one is a novelist. This idea is liable to become unknown, to us if we are a philosopher, or a scientist, or a stupid person.
A person speaks about souls in heaven. But a novelist talks about paradise in the palm of our hand, or at the end of our nose because he feels the existence of life during his life time undisturbed by what happens to him after life.

According to Lawrence, life is the most important aspect of life. Anything that is living is certainly more amazing than a dead thing. A living dog is better than a dead lion though a living lion is better than a living dog.
D.H. Lawrence says that he is not simply a soul or a body or mind, or intelligence, or glands. He is the sum total of all these and greater than all these. Since, possesses them within himself. He as a man alive, is a novelist. So as a novelist he is greater than and superior to the scientist, the philosopher and the poet, since they deal with only a part of man’s body, whereas the novelist deals with the whole body.
Even the Bible is a great confused novel. It is not about one man alive but a long list of men alive. Even God is another man alive. Since, he throws the tablets of stone at Mose’s head.
D.H. Lawrence desires to stimulate people in all possible directions. All things change but even change is not absolute the whole or complete nature is a ‘strong assembly of apparently incongruous parts, slipping part one another.
Man constantly undergoes changes and a man today is not exactly what he was yesterday and he will also be entirely different tomorrow. Even the woman loved by a man constantly undergoes changes and he continues to love her because of the change.
In this novel, the characters do nothing but live. They have to live but not according to any pattern, good or bad or volatile, because once they shape themselves into a pattern, they cease to live and novel falls dead. Similarly, in life we have got to live or we are nothing.
The exact meaning of living is like the meaning of being. People go into the desert to seek God, or money, or wine, or woman, or song, or water or political reform or votes. One can never predict one’s choices in life. It is as sudden as rain in summer and none can say when it will come. In this great confusion, disorder and unpredictability we need a guide.
The novel tells us what a man alive does and when a man becomes a dead man in life. It tells us, for instance, how a man alive loves a woman, and how a dead man in life courts her; how a man alive eats his dinner and how a dead man in life munches it. It tells us how a man alive shoots his enemy and how dead man in life throws bombs mercilessly at men, who are neither his enemies nor friends, and therefore becomes a criminal.
The novel is the best guide which helps us to live, without getting ourselves unnecessarily disturbed by the theory of right and wrong, good or bad, which are always there. Right and wrong are not constant but relative. Since what is right in one case becomes wrong in another. In the novel, we see a man dying because of his goodness and another person dying because of his wickedness. The idea of right and wrong is an instinct generating from the consciousness of man affecting his body, mind and spirit.
The existence of anything, namely, body or mind, or spirit separately does not make life, but the wholeness of man alive and a woman alive constitutes life. Only the novel explains the dead man and dead woman in life, the novel is the one bright book of life and surpasses all other books, such as philosophy, science and poetry.


In the essay "Why the Novel Matters , Lawrence explores in his own way the Romantic concept of the relativity of parts and wholes to construct a doctrinal statement celebrating the novel over other fields of thought. Unlike philosophy, science, and religion, which only address "part  of us, he says, the novel reaches us "whole hog . Incorporated into this argument is a diatribe against moral "absolutes . " Once and for all and for ever, let us have done with the ugly imperialism of any absolute. There is no absolute good, there is nothing absolutely right,  the writer asserts. Here Lawrence's hatred of absolutes is made supplemental to a larger theory on the relativity of parts and wholes. In the essay, he contends that "man alive  is as much or more the physical body than it is the mind or spirit, and he supports his thesis by disassembling the old cliche that the body is merely a vessel for the soul.
             Then he goes on saying that like "a bottle or a jug, or a tin can, or a vessel of clay  our body bleeds when it is cut. But the difference that sets it apart is the life in the skin, vein, bone or blood this is inside. But in case of other inanimate objects the entities inside are as dead as the outer. "And that's what you learn, when you're a novelist  quips Lawrence to define the people in this field. So the superficial "logic" of this passage is conspicuously off: to refute the notion that the body is merely a vessel for the soul, he "proves" that skin and bone are as important as anything else.