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Title: Evolution and the novels of D.H. Lawrence : a Bergsonian interpretation
Author: Taylor, Mark R.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the degree and nature of D.H. Lawrence’s interaction with the concept of evolution, as manifest in his novels and the longer of his short stories. It addresses both Lawrence’s engagement with evolutionism directly informed by biology and his relationship with extrapolations of evolutionary ideas from outside the scientific sphere. In particular it considers the theories of Henri Bergson, and theosophical and occultist appropriations of evolutionary concepts. Instead of approaching Bergson as a philosopher of time, as has much previous research into Bergson’s impact upon modernist literature, the thesis considers how the Bergsonian notion that a ‘need of creation’ drives evolutionary development is reflected in Lawrence’s fiction. Chapter One investigates the role of the imagination in interaction with nature in Lawrence’s earliest novels, in particular The White Peacock (1911). It suggests that while creative imagination may appear to give a distorted impression of wider nature, it is nonetheless seen to be necessary for contact with the world to be enriching. Chapter Two considers the relationship between creativity and development in The Rainbow (1915) and Women in Love (1920), suggesting that creative force is seen to provide a means to resist the effects of wider cycles in nature between evolution and dissolution. In Chapter Three, Lawrence’s novels of migration and self-discovery, The Lost Girl (1920) and Aaron’s Rod (1922), are suggested to employ intricate Bergsonian structures, whereby the respective protagonists simultaneously explore multiple paths of evolutionary development, despite the ostensible paradoxes which result from this. Chapter Four, focusing upon Lawrence’s Australian fiction, considers the relationship between the hostile environment of Australia and the evolutionary development of its inhabitants. Chapter Five considers the importance of occultist evolutionism to Lawrence, using his annotations to P.D. Ouspensky’s Tertium Organum as a means to better understand the mystical aspects of the fiction he wrote while in North America. Finally, Chapter Six addresses the presentation of illness and injury in Lawrence’s work, particularly in Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), examining the relationship between the composition of an individual and his or her ability to fit into the structures of wider nature.
Supervisor: Whitworth, Michael H. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; English and Old English literature ; D.H. Lawrence ; Henri Bergson ; Evolution ; Modernist Literature ; Literature and Science