Is Bertrand Russell overrated

David Herbert Lawrence - The Man Who Loved Instincts


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Christine Hoffer on David Herbert Lawrence

In a letter from 1913 he formulated his blood theory for the first time, according to which man can only find fulfillment in the satisfaction of his vital instincts. He opposed the overestimation of the intellect and postulated the power of feeling. "My deep religion is the belief that the blood, the flesh are smarter than the mind," he wrote. “We can be wrong in our minds. But what our blood feels and believes and says is always true. ”The pictures he painted during this period also reflect this vitalistic attitude to life, they take up elements of naive painting and symbolism: clear contours, simplified depiction of the human Shape, strong colors for the representation of the landscape, whereby the hectic brushstroke reflects the spontaneity of the movement and does not want to tell a story because it only suggests a state of mind.
The English poet D.H. attempted this peculiar, but in this case completely unique philosophy, which could be confused with those vitalistic ideas that were also cherished in fascist ideologies. Lawrence's entire life to specify in his works and to present them in different literary forms.
Born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire in 1885, he was the son of a miner and former teacher who came from a middle-class family and who had a decisive influence on the upbringing of their children (Lawrence had two brothers and two sisters). The relationship of his very different parents to one another was not a harmonious one, but rather a conflict.
The Nottinghamshire area is said to have been "a strange mixture of industry and old agricultural England" at the end of the 19th century, as Lawrence later put it. Growing up in poor conditions in this mining area, he fell ill with tuberculosis at an early age and his whole life was marked by illness. This is how he will die young at the age of 44.
He was raised in the spirit of Presbyterianism and, as a teenager, showed a keen interest in modern languages ​​(French, German, Italian, Spanish). In the years 1906 to 1908 he studied, among other things, education at Nottingham University College. During this time he wrote in a letter to Blanche Jennings that if it were up to him, a "death chamber as big as the crystal palace" should be built in which all the sick, lame and crippled could be painlessly relieved from their suffering. After completing his studies, he got a job in Croydon near London in 1908 as a teacher, where he attracted attention with his extremely anti-authoritarian teaching style. Because of the illness, he had to give up the teaching profession, which he had practiced for a short time. After the first poems were published in the "English Review", he decided to live as a freelance writer.
He began a relationship with the wife of his former French teacher, Frieda Weekley. He first met Frieda, née von Richthofen, then 32 and mother of three children on April 6, 1912. After immediately initiating a correspondence, he followed her to Metz at the beginning of May 1912, where she was born and where her father served as an officer in the Imperial Army. There, Lawrence gathered his impressions of the German military, which were then reflected in his short story "The Prussian Officer". He was finally accepted by Frieda's mother.
In Metz he worked on his first novel "Sons and Lovers", which was published in 1913 and caused a scandal. Because already in this first novel, “Sons and Lovers”, Lawrence dealt with the conflict between intellect and instinct, which from then on characterized his entire work.
The psychological masterpiece of the bold English narrator takes place in the milieu of the miners and is dedicated to a primordial theme of humanity: the love between mother and son. Gertrude Coppard, who comes from better circles, marries the miner Walter Morel, with whom she fell in love at a Christmas party. A first son, William, is born, then a daughter, Annie, finally, when love has cooled down and the couple feel only contempt for one another, Paul. Gertrude now turns completely to her sons. William, who started a promising career in London, dies early. The relationship with the artistically gifted Paul becomes all the more intense. Oscillating between an almost erotic attachment to his mother and a hating desire to evade her strong influence, he finally tries in vain to find happiness in other women.
Lawrence processes the motif of Oedipus here: a family love takes on excessive traits, the son unwittingly kills the father and commits incest with the biological mother. The complicated psychology of excessive maternal love is described with impressive clarity without voyeurism. The inner turmoil of the characters with their constantly changing emotions and longings is processed in this family drama in a very haunting and touching way.
The writer, badly affected by literary criticism, wanted to get out of the limited circumstances of his homeland, the gloomy coalfield of Central England, and Frieda moved back to the bohemian world of Munich. The two later called this time their honeymoon. Lawrence, the prospective schoolmaster, and Frieda, the frustrated professor's wife - in 1912, both lives were at a tipping point. The ever more monomaniacal sexual mystic Lawrence (who was basically a staunch Puritan) and the self-confident and fun-loving Prussian baroness fell in love. They got together and fled headlong from Nottingham to Munich. The scene there, however, had long since been dispersed. So the couple set out in May 1912 to cross the Alps on foot and reach Italy, the land of longing for all romantics. In the novel “Mr. Noon ”, Lawrence sarcastically but aptly described this multi-month hike through mountain valleys and snow deserts and their adventures among Tyrolean mountain farmers.
Completely deranged, they finally ended up as tramps in Trento. Already at the train station, the k.u.k. In spite of his demolished exterior, the station board courteously gave the poet information - a little encouraging experience that increased the anticipation of the Lago di Garda: "What an escape from hell into a kind of lovely, sunny, wandering sky!" which was always a particular source of displeasure because of its modest means, worked straight away. They stayed on Lake Garda from September 1912 to April 1913 and then in Lerici in Liguria until June 1914.
In July 1914, D.H. Lawrence finally the now divorced Frieda in London. They lived in Zennor for a short time, but soon had to leave Cornwall - the First World War had broken out - on suspicion of espionage. Lawrence had experienced German militarism in Metz, where Frieda's father was the fortress commander and where he was promptly suspected of being an English spy. But even in England he physically disgusts the columns of advancing soldiers: “They remind me of lice or bedbugs… I see how fresh and nimble the sky is. But hell creeps up sluggishly as a slimy swarm of insects: like here and now in Europe, in England. ”No wonder that with this deficit of patriotism he is considered a German spy and then the novels of the outmoded moralist are also considered immoral.
Declared unfit for war for health reasons, Lawrence was spared the experience of war that shaped many of his generation of writers. Lawrence then stayed for a long time in London, where he made the acquaintance of the Imagists, especially Richard Aldington, in whose magazine "The Egoist" he was able to publish a lot. When he was finally allowed to leave England after the end of the war, he moved south with Frieda: to Sicily and Malta, then to Sardinia, and returned several times to Tuscany.
Again and again his novels violated the puritanical (double) morality and brought him not only success and reputation, but also legal prosecution. So "The Rainbow" ("The Rainbow"), which appeared in September 1915, was banned in November because of profanity. This novel, almost entirely in the style of the inner monologue, placed the pursuit of a harmonious relationship through sexual fulfillment at the center of the plot. It was perceived as obscene that an incestuous relationship was indicated several times and the characters' self-realization was described as an ever-new erotic experience. With the banning of this novel, Lawrence began to dispute with the English authorities and with public opinion - a dispute that was to accompany his artistic career.
The novel "Women in Love", published in 1920, is considered to be his most complex work. It also has a reputation for being a disreputable scandal. The author's highly topical life theme: the search for a new existence freed from conventions, the search for contemporary morality. D.H. Lawrence creates “Loving Women” a passionate, poetic and at the same time skeptical vision of a modern society and its values. Rupert Birkin is a classic Lawrence hero: disillusioned with the traditional moral concepts and their hostile tendencies, he decides to base his own life on principles that are more humane and pleasurable.
Behind every everyday scene lurks a demonic abyss, at any rate all reality simply seems to exist simply for the sake of the inner excitement that it releases in the characters. Two women, two men, always on the go, constantly in crisis: Surrounded by a small group of striking marginal figures, they search, hunt, find, love and war with each other in a grandiose arena of passions, the stormy development of which one is partly breathless, partly strange follows. The sparse plot takes place in the mining landscape of the Midlands as well as in the artist clubs of Bloomsbury and is riddled with conversations and considerations to get to the essence of a new life beyond civil morality and belief in machines. With his own narrative intensity and symbolic density, Lawrence draws a fascinating portrait of English society around 1914. Nowhere has he succeeded in exploring complex psychological motivations more emphatically and convincingly than in this visionary social novel.
Incidentally, in the literary circles of London in 1013 he met the New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield. Until Mansfield's untimely death in 1923, the two maintained a friendly relationship that was not always undisturbed. The ambivalent feelings that Mansfield aroused with her unconventional life and work in Lawrence found their literary expression in his portrait of Gudrun Brangwen in "Loving Women".
And looking for Bertrand Russell, whom he met in Cambridge in 1915 through Lady Ottoline Morrell, appears in "Loving Women". The initial friendship developed within months into an intimate, lifelong aversion, which was also reflected in the works of the two men. So caricatured D.H. Lawrence here Bertrand Russell with a pointed pen.
The royalties from the USA in particular contributed to his financial stabilization during this time, and perhaps not least for material reasons, he also began to write travelogues in which he looked for (and sometimes found) a new style between description and ethnology (he undertook long-distance trips to Ceylon and Australia), criticism of civilization, empirical literature and narration. The aesthetic impressions of his travels also left traces in his paintings: the colors became stronger and their combination more daring, while the contours became blurred. In keeping with the themes of his novels - love, power, religion - he repeatedly depicted lovers in his paintings and resorted to motifs from the symbolic fund of religious traditions.
Frieda sold her husband's manuscripts. So they got a ranch in the US state of New Mexico for the manuscript of “Sons and Lovers” from the salon lioness and art patron Mabel Dodge, who frequented the circles of American expatriates in London and Paris as well as the circles of artists in New York that Lawrence decorated with murals. "The Mabel Dodge House", which Frieda donated to the University of New Mexico as an artist house after Lawrence's death, stands for the double talent of the D.H. Lawrence: In recognition of his narrative art, he received the ranch and immediately turned it into a work of visual art. Lawrence never gave up painting, even if it was temporarily, but it was in literature in which he invested his creative energy.
After American doctors diagnosed tuberculosis, D.H. Lawrence returned to England from the USA in September 1925, from where, after a short stay with Frieda, he traveled on to Italy. In a condition both physically and mentally unstable, he decided to stop writing novels. But hardly that he was feeling better, he wrote another novel, "The Feathered Snake", which appeared in 1926 and which he himself considered to be his most important.
It deals with the contrast between the European society guided by reason and spirit and an exotic (Mexican) society determined by instinct and feeling, the symbol of which is the feathered serpent. “The feathered serpent” has a special place in his work, insofar as Lawrence strives in this book to depict the regeneration of an entire society on the basis of mythical-religious forces.
The novel is set in Mexico. Lawrence surprises with an anti-Americanism. His heroine Kate is fed up with pragmatism, technocratic reason, imperial demeanor and dollar ideology. He has damned few illusions about the condition of the Mexican “indigenous people” and about the chances of a Westerner getting close to the Mexicans. Rejecting artificial Christianity, Lawrence searches for Quetzalcoatl, America's ancient god, the flying serpent.
“She no longer wanted love, pleasure, everything that had filled her life so far. She was forty. She wanted the flower of her soul to open. ”Kate Leslie, Irish, widow, leaves European civilization and flees to Mexico. She wants to exchange her meaningless life of civilization for the old pagan cult religion of Mexican gods, consciously resurrected by two intelligent Mexican “leaders”, as whose incarnation the leaders see themselves. Kate submits to the cult and its initiators, revived with human sacrifice, cruelty and orgiastic sexuality. “The novel has two faces,” wrote the critic of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, “they are presented to the reader like a Janus head: One is the face of the prophet, the vision of an original state, an original religion that must be restored by gifted people. This reformation, to be carried out against priests and politicians, is what matters most to Lawrence. But the other face is that of the travel writer Lawrence, the restless explorer of foreign countries and people who wants to experience the different environment in his senses and his blood. ”The book works like a drug. A dream. A hallucination. D.H. By the way, Lawrence is buried where he was once happy and found America wonderful: in Taos, New Mexico.
In addition to all the autobiographical impulses or references to experience, Lawrence is able to establish himself as a significant novelist and culture-critical narrator, as he succeeds in transforming the individual topics in the foreground into his own artistic language sustainably and constructively into a comprehensive ideological system in the sense of an alternative, philosophically founded anthropology with the endeavor to find answers to a disastrous and decadent fate of modern civilization and to make it literarily impressive.
The in-depth interpretations of the intercultural encounters with foreign peoples or cultures and religions presented by him and processed in literary form, with their diverse symbolizations of foreign alterity as "natural cultures" and the experiences of the foreign as one's own, also substantiate the literary historical significance of his international fictions and travel reports . They open up an extremely fruitful examination of self and external images, which at the same time creates a critical distance from the values ​​of the English and Western cultural systems.
The ancient Etruscans and the Indians of the New World are invoked by him as key witnesses against the rational-rational shrinking of life: "The white man has stolen the sun."
From the beginning, Lawrence also wrote short stories and some short novels, which are now considered by many critics to be his most important works. More closed in form than his novels, trained on the great narrators of the 19th century, but modern in the choice of topics, the openness of the presentation and psychology, in the style clear and yet poetic, Lawrence portrays the fates that every reader still has today pack.
His stories live from the biography of their author, without being strictly autobiographical. Again and again, friends and acquaintances believed they recognized themselves in his portraits with mixed feelings. The stories offer, as it were, a concentrate of his art in various phases of development, from the realism of the early stories from the mining environment to the visionary symbolism of the middle phase, which reveals the mysterious amorality of life in the middle of routine everyday life, to the grandiose fables at the end. The loving view of nature is common to all. Even where they approach social comedy, these stories are anything but harmless. The greatest fascinate and shock to this day with their linguistically compelling mixture of eros and death. For example, the study of homoeroticism and military sadism “The Prussian Officer” or the blasphemous resurrection story “The man who died”.
The early stories take place in the miners' and military milieu, such as the famous story "Chrysanthemum fragrance". She is the sensitive portrait of a woman who, when her husband dies, sees her own life and her marriage in ruins. In the story “Sun”, infamous for its freedom of movement, a young New Yorker in Italy finds her way back to originality and physicality in symbiosis with nature and yet she cannot get away from her husband. In “The Fox”, for many critics a high point in Lawrence's narrative work, the lesbian relationship between two women is mixed up by a fox and a young man.
In addition to many stories that revolve around Lawrence's main theme, love and relationships between men and women, there is also, for example, the great story "The Man Who Loved Islands" - an anti-robinsonad about a man who got up retreats ever smaller islands and yet cannot escape from itself.
In D. H. Lawrence's grandiose tale about the abysses of human existence, a man seeks his fortune on a storm-tossed island. Here he creates his own world, arranges everything according to his ideas. But soon his happiness is threatened, not by wind and waves, but by other people. So the man fled to a smaller island and finally to an even smaller island until he was finally all alone, alone with the sea. He loses himself more and more deeply in himself, in his desires and longings. It is a story about a person who dares to withdraw from the world in order to feel the tides, the vibrations of the soul in order to create his own paradise: "His only satisfaction he drew from being alone, completely alone, and that the eternally wide space penetrated him ”. One of his most beautiful stories.
The great story "The Escaped Cock" ("The escaped cock")
"The Man Who Died" ("The man who had died", which appeared in the Suhrkamp library as a "resurrection story" great translation) has D.H. Lawrence written shortly before his death. It is an amazing variation of the resurrection story, in which Jesus distances himself from his Messiah role and lives a different kind of resurrection.
It shows the true humanity, which was initially missed by the experience of death, but then won. For this purpose, Lawrence has idiosyncratically straightened and joined two sacred legends, the Christian message of salvation of the resurrection of Jesus and the pagan-Egyptian myth of the rediscovered Osiris. In his story, the de-divine hero crosses the line of death back into life as a new person in order to pass on his life, instead of sacrificing it for humanity, in accordance with his human-masculine destiny. Lawrence had to abuse the sacred, deeply annoying Christian tradition and transfer it to the ancient Egyptian tradition, which he found deeply gratifying, in order to find his vision of the "new man" that was entirely in keeping with him.
The Diogenes Verlag has all the short stories and novels by D.H. Lawrence in a beautiful two-volume edition.
After a long stay in New Mexico, he stayed briefly in the area of ​​his childhood and then drove back to Italy, where he painted large-format oil paintings and, despite repeated relapses, wrote three versions of the novel that would become his last and most famous.
“Lady Chatterley” was created between 1926 and 1927 in the Villa Mirenda near Florence. The autobiographical background to this peculiar, long controversial romance novel, which is only available in a modified version, is the coexistence of the extravagant couple, as it began in 1912 on Lake Garda. His wife Frieda is naturally the literary role model of "Lady Chatterley".
In this, his last novel, Lawrence ‘Philosophy of Life came to its most mature presentation. The young, beautiful Lady Chatterley flees the gloomy, sterile landlord world of her husband Clifford, whom the war has crippled, and falls in love with the ten-year-old gamekeeper Mellor. Both experience sexual union as an act of "true love" and find fulfillment in it. Class boundaries, however, prevent the final liberation from the fetters of their past. The book is essentially the emancipation story of the fictional character Constance Chatterley, who violated the morals and social norms of her time. She and her lover defy social norms because they obey standards that they consider morally higher, namely their own instincts. It is the contrast between "mind consciousness" and "blood consciousness," that is, between spirit and blood, understanding and feeling, that defines Lawrence's philosophy of life. The novel was originally supposed to be called "Tenderness" (tenderness).
The very precisely formulated representation of sexual love, in connection with a plea for nature - as a metaphor for human meaning and naturalness used in the book - aroused just as much offense as the sexual liberation and sharp criticism of British society. The scandalous love story, first published in 1928, was banned for a long time because of its revealing scenes and was only released for publication in 1960 after a trial after the paperback publisher Penguin provocatively defied newer laws against “obscene publications without literary quality”. The process led to the lifting of censorship and became part of the history of the "sexual revolution" that swept Great Britain and eventually all of Europe in the 1960s.
Originally, Lawrence could not find a publisher for the work and a thousand copies of it appeared as a private print in Florence; in England it could only be subscribed to. The English press viewed this novel as obscene, but it sold out there as quickly as it was in Paris. In the wake of the dispute over “Lady Chatterley”, an exhibition of Lawrence ‘paintings in London's Warren Gallery also became a scandal in the summer of 1929. The police confiscated several pictures. While the novels shocked in terms of content by emphasizing sensual fulfillment as a life goal and formally through the use of the inner monologue and suggestive imagery, the paintings shocked formally through the pulsating application of paint and content through the staging of esoteric motifs as a worldly experience.
Although his health deteriorated rapidly, Lawrence wrote several essays in a short space of time, including "Pornography and Obscenity", in which he defended "Lady Chatterley" and opposed the ban on sexuality as a "dirty little secret". He was outraged that the novel was frowned upon as obscene and immoral, as it by no means propagated sexual permissiveness, on the contrary, made love a condition of sexual fulfillment: In the relationship between Lady Chatterley and her lover there is a harmonious balance of mind and body staged as the realization of “true love”. But a form of expression tabooed by Victorian morality and detailed erotic descriptions shocked the public and made the romance a scandal. By giving the novel an aura of wickedness, the scandal ensured lasting success: “Lady Chatterley” is Lawrence's most famous work today and, as early as 1932, was translated into French in the foreword by André Malraux in the tradition of classic French novels such as Laclos '' Dangerous Liaisons "and Stendhal's" Red and Black "are ranked. If used correctly, Lawrence himself wrote shortly before his death, the novel can "reveal the most hidden aspects of life: for in the passionately hidden aspects of life the perception of feelings must experience ebb and flow, purification and renewal". And: "The novel is the shining book of life."
He died of tuberculosis on March 2, 1930 in Vence, France, at the age of 44, in the presence of his wife Frieda and his long-time friend Aldous Huxley. Frieda later had his ashes brought to the farm in Taos, New Mexico.


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