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Male relationships in the work of D.H. Lawrence.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 08:59 authored by Robert C. Brandeis
D.H. Lawrence's interest in male relationships, and its manifestation throughout his work in the theme of male friendships, suggests an approach to his achievement as novelist and thinker which previously has not been adequately explored. Lawrence's attempt to understand and eventually to provide a rationale for his psychosexual feelings and impulses towards homoerotic comradeship began to assume thematic and aesthetic importance in The White Peacock and continued for the duration of his career. An illuminating starting point for the discussion of male relationships is the story "The Prussian Officer," in which Lawrence establishes the techniques of imagistic and thematic expression which frequently recur in his subsequent treatment of male homoerotic relationships. The recognition that erotic tenderness can exist between men results in Women in Love in the advocacy of a male complement to conventional heterosexual relationships, although this awareness is complicated by Birkin's explicit homosexual responses in the unpublished "Prologue" to the novel. After his initial adumbration of the theme in Women in Love, Lawrence's discovery of the potentiality inherent in male relations is explored in the "power" novels which follow---Aaron's Rod, Kangaroo, and The Plumed Serpent. Utilizing his own theories stated in such discursive writings as Fantasia of the Unconscious, Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious, "Democracy," "Education of the People," and his understanding of Whitman, Edward Carpenter, and esoteric tradition, Lawrence consolidated the various ways in which relationships between men could create a new and positive social experience---what he called a "new adjustment." The communion between men, which is expressed through a homoerotic embrace, is transformed into a "communion in power"; in the later novels Lawrence attempted to posit a masculine power ethic which would facilitate the establishment of a positive and valuable place for male relationships in all human endeavour. However, Lawrence's later response to the ideas of Dr. Trigant Burrow, Rolf Gardiner, and John Hargrave in his Confession of the Kibbo Kift, as well as his own experience of the realities of political power, led to a revaluation of the communion in power, and the notion of its dependence upon homoerotic relations.


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University of Leicester

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  • Doctoral

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  • PhD



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