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D.H. Lawrence's Psychoanalytic Ideas

In the Foreword to his Fantasia of the Unconscious D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) asserted that his theorizing about the nature of the unconscious derived from the experience of literary creation. His novels and poems, he claimed, were "purely passionate experience" and came "unwatched out of one's pen" (Fantasia 15). Like so many of Lawrence's statements about his own efforts, however, these remarks reveal a thicket of complications rather than throwing greater light on the work at hand. The two books on psychoanalysis, Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious (1921) and the Fantasia (1922), were published in the two years following Lawrence's success in finally securing the publication of Women in Love (1920). They are, in part, explanations--perhaps even justifications--of that shocking book and of other facets of his literary production up to that point. The two books lay out the views on human psychology and the promptings of the unconscious that had contributed so much to the underlying scheme of Women in Love or, as he would have it, emerged during its composition. But the psychoanalytic writings hardly form a key to the novel and whatever explanatory power they possess in purely literary terms is only one of their minor functions. What they explain, instead, is the ideas, or the knowledge, that Lawrence got in touch with during the writing of the novel and its predecessor The Rainbow (1915).

These books also situated Lawrence's thought in relation to the prevailing notions of psychoanalysis, especially in relation to Freud's ongoing project. But, while Lawrence acknowledged Freud as a source, he felt that his own creative experience had generated an even deeper perception, perhaps even understanding, of the human unconscious than scientists had reached. As an artist Lawrence was a deep believer in the instinctual and most of his fiction and his theoretical writings dealt with the deep despair that contemporary, industrializ...

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D.H. Lawrence's Psychoanalytic Ideas. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 06:07, July 04, 2022, from