D.H. Lawrence and the European avant-garde : the significance of Dionysian art
Lawrence's modern novels are related not so much to the native English tradition as to the wider context of avant-garde movements like Futurism, Expressionism and Surrealism. This thesis investigates the 'unusual' creativity of Lawrence's novels by measuring them against central ideas of avant-garde artists, in particular, Wassily Kandinsky and Antonin Artaud. Lawrence, Kandinsky and Artaud shared a considerable amount of common ground; they all were influenced by Nietzschean ideas. Their innovative arts set out to look for ways of releasing the unconscious, instinctual, 'transrational' or 'libidinal' energies of the psyche. Despite notable differences, the three artists felt that the contemporary situation demanded the development of radically new means of artistic expression; non-verbal, non-discursive, physical, sensual and plastic expression are central to their experiment. Sharing a conviction that the ultimate reality is 'Dionysian', they seek to reveal a Dionysian reality by means of a kind of visionary art which is more inclusive, dynamic and powerful than the traditional forms of art. Artaud and Lawrence especially devote themselves to developing ways in which all natural forces of incomprehensible 'cosmic cruelty'---the uncanny vision of the Dionysian real---can be artistically conveyed. They are Dionysian artists. They explore what they see as the fundamental reality of life: the 'dark' domain of unconscious forces and desires; impulses and instincts; body and blood. Their arts are 'transrational' ones. Kandinsky's 'monumental art', Artaud's 'theatre of cruelty' and Lawrence's post-war novels are each a kind of modern 'total work of art', relying on various non-verbal means of expression; the object is to recreate the festive spectacles of ancient religious rites and rituals.