The philosophy of D.H. Lawrence : from prophecy to pragmatism
Taking a more philosophical than literary view of Lawrence, this thesis interprets Lawrence's life and work in terms of its philosophical import and suggests that Lawrence's mature thinking can be seen as exemplifying the spirit of pragmatist philosophy. To that end, the ideas of pragmatist philosopher Richard Rorty are drawn upon in order to shed light on the course and outcomes of Lawrence's philosophical development. Daniel Dervin and Terry Eagleton are also prominent among other critics to whom I refer. Drawing on texts from several of the genres in which Lawrence wrote, the case is made that the particular circumstances of Lawrence's early life and emotional development first drew him towards an essentialist philosophical position which in tum led him into an ill-conceived 'messianic' phase. Among the texts considered here are Lawrence's short story' A Modem Lover' and essays including 'The Crown' and 'The Reality of Peace'. These texts span the period 1910 to 1917. Lawrence's association with the philosopher Bertrand Russell is also discussed. Lawrence's eventual abandonment of philosophical idealism is discussed in relation to his 'Democracy' essay of 1919 and the 1921 novella The Ladybird. Following a period of acute personal crisis in the aftermath of his failed messiahship, Lawrence's thinking is shown to have developed along lines which closely parallel Rorty's idea of' contingency'. The main text discussed here is Lawrence's Sketches of Etruscan Places, a piece of travel writing dating from 1927. A further stage sees Lawrence moving to a position analogous to Rorty's idea of 'irony'. The key text here is Lawrence's novella The Escaped Cock (written in two stages spanning 1927-8). The thesis culminates in an extended discussion of the three versions of Lady Chatterley's Lover (written during the period 1926-8) viewed in the light of Rorty's notion of 'solidarity'.