From panophilia to phallophobia: sublimation and projection in D. H. Lawrence's St. Mawr.
--D. H. Lawrence, "Pan in America"
"Here we have one of the origins of artistic activity."
--Sigmund Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality
"Who does not know Turner's Picture of the Golden Bough?"
--James Frazer, The Golden Bough
On August 18, 1923, an angry D. H. Lawrence accompanies Frieda to the pier for her departure from New York to England. The married couple had just endured one of their bitterest and most representative quarrels according to their bystander friend, Catherine Carswell; the subject of their argument is not simply Lawrence's adamant refusal to accompany his wife back to Europe. (1) The livid issue between them--as it has persisted for more than a decade--remains Lawrence's resentment over a divided loyalty in her that he insensitively can no longer tolerate: the understandable need in Frieda to see her children stands as the primary reason for her decision to abandon for an undetermined period an emotionally volatile husband as he completes his travel in America and Mexico without her. Lawrence's superb biographer for this period in his life, David Ellis, quotes an unequivocal letter that he writes on August 7, 1923, to Middleton Murry: "F. wants to see her children. And you know, wrong or not, I can't stomach the chasing of these Weekley children" (Letters IV 480, Ellis 124). Frieda is just as adamant and scathing. On board the transatlantic liner, she writes to Adele Seltzer of her complete disgust with her husband's mood and vows not to return to him.
While not justifying Lawrence's lack of empathy, Ellis maintains persuasively that Frieda's persistent guilt feelings, maternal anxieties, and distracted preoccupations over her children were "often to be interpreted by Lawrence as a betrayal" of him (126). After she departs, Lawrence initially embraced the belief that "his mission would have to be sustained alone"; perhaps too optimistically at first, he accepts his new status of independence as an "implicit denial of his relationship with Frieda as the center of his life" (132). As he travels alone in the weeks ahead, he rewrites parts of The Boy in the Bush to include an intrusive vindictiveness about the entire institution of marriage by making Jack suddenly consider the virtues of bigamy; it is an odd and unpersuasive revision of the novel that seems to suggest an attempt by a resentful Lawrence "to contemplate a way of life without Frieda" (136). A typically gracious letter by his loyal companion Gotzsche in late October describes how intensely Lawrence pines for Frieda and how clearly the rationalized confidence in the husband about the value of the separation has dissipated. Lawrence sails back to England in November 1923 in a depressed and anxious state. It is difficult not to connect his condition to Lawrence's view of the return as a major defeat for his bedrock notions of manly authority and self-reliance, involving an inevitable awareness in him of "that overly dependent temperament" (140) he would trace after 1919 to the contorted relationship with his strong-willed and often smothering mother.
Much has been chronicled and analyzed about the months of emotional pain experienced by Lawrence after his return to England--with special emphasis within such commentary on his suspicions about the conspicuous closeness between Frieda and Murry when they meet him on his arrival, and on his distinct feelings of betrayal by his wife and close friend at the Cafe Royal dinner several weeks later. (2) His developing perception of Murry as a sexual rival and narcissistic manipulator, and of Frieda as a potential or actual adulterer, is sublimated effectively in the three "Murry Stories"--"The Last Laugh," "The Borderline," and "Jimmy and the Desperate Woman"--that Lawrence composed during this uncomfortable interlude in Europe before his return to New Mexico with Frieda. The stories remain notable as a collective unit because of their various episodes of magical realism, disturbing violence, ghostly ambiance, and unorthodox sex and passion; whatever erotic consummation does exist appears ambiguous in its unconventional body-positioning and in its compulsive psychological motivation. Indeed, the apparent lack of phallic penetration depicted in the hazy drama of "The Borderline" is presented as an unembroidered and unclarified given--that is, without any sense in the narrative of regretful compromise or imposed adjustment by the frenetic participants. The strangely sexual but phallophobic atmosphere is also complemented in this tale by the transparent projection of Lawrence's accelerating lung disease onto the Murry character of Philip. Deftly working with a range of psychobiographical clues in all three stories, Ellis provocatively surmises that at least by the start of 1924, as Lawrence's health deteriorates and his emotional connection to Frieda becomes more fraught with his own anger and suspicion, there "may not be sex in the usual sense" between them any more (164). (3)
There is, of course, a wealth of possibility suggested in Ellis's necessarily imprecise and diplomatic phrase "that usual sense"; whether in Lawrence's case the impinging issue is total impotence, lesser incapacity, or emotional indisposition, he may well have initiated the Murry tales to make an ideological virtue out of a psychosexual necessity by creating a compensatory doctrinal infatuation that now would last for many months: he begins to develop, through those three stories and through several essays written in the winter and early spring of 1923-1924, an idealization and explanation of Pan-energy and its associated mythologies. (4) The thematic nexus is first embodied in "The Last Laugh," in which "Lawrence's return to Europe is conflated with a new liberating atmosphere associated with Pan" (Ellis 157). This atmosphere for Lawrence is intense, transformative, and distinctly unsexual. The center of Pan-life for him becomes the espousal of practices, rituals, traditions, and--this above all--landscapes that animistically unite man and nature, and such bonding is dramatically integrated with the texture of the changing seasons. No sentimental pantheism here, but a deep admiration in him for the challenging and energizing engagement between the human and the numinous residue of Pan primarily embedded in the topography of the southwest United States and Mexico. Lawrence clarifies important aspects of this panophilia in "Pan in America" in the spring of 1924, an essay that has distinct relation to the structure and substance of St. Mawr written June to September 1924.
Any sense of masculine force or phallic presence is undercut by Lawrence at the very start of St. Mawr--and this pattern of diminishment is reiterated throughout the work. The narrative tone on this issue often sounds too intrusive and archly self-satisfied not to be a part of a doctrinal framework that is central to the novella. Not only does Lawrence insist that Rico is easily "mastered" (21) by Lou in their adamantly dispassionate marriage, but the repeated and doggerel phrasing of their premarital "love affair in Capri" (21, 22) reflects Lawrence's mischievous glee in his portrait of devastated manhood and fractured marriage in postwar Europe. (5) Lou suffers a fashionable breakdown after a separation during their neurotic courtship that confines her to a "convent nursing-home in Umbria" (22); her return to stability is evident throughout St. Mawr, and it is only compromised by her unwise choice of a pompous and effete husband. When she announces to her cynical and spicy mother that she and Rico are engaged, we get the first glimpse of Mrs. Witt's characteristically withering and defensive attitude toward all men, for she "was at the age when the malevolent male in man, the old Adam, begins to loom above all the social tailoring" (23).
As man and wife, Lou and Rico discover that their initial erotic attraction has mutated to become "a nervous attachment rather than a sexual love" (24); without the energy or motivation to reject their compromised condition, they conveniently become "like brother and sister" (24). While they contentedly adjust to the material comforts of leisurely travel and titled nobility, Mrs. Witt stays nearby in England to enjoy the privileges of the social elitism she pretends to deplore. Her fear of the "malevolent male" ultimately reflects the paradox of her expressed need to find "real men" (24) only to fuel her irrepressible penchant to dominate and diminish them. Smart and experienced enough to bemoan the adulteration of traditional gender definition in the traumatized landscape after the war ("your virility or your life!--Your femininity or your life!" [26, emphasis original]), and defiantly depicted as dowager who "loved men--real men" (24), it is also evident that at age 54 she lacks any significant desire for honest passion from the opposite sex. The lady doth protest too much: "It was difficult to define what she meant by 'real' men. She never met any" (24). Critics tend to overrate the instinctual insight and social acumen of the redoubtable Mrs. Witt, generally failing to note that although she is often smugly correct about people and their respective affectations, she remains brutally class-conscious and makes errant judgments about the eligibility of men as marital partners--as in her absurd considerations of Dean Vyner and Lewis as suitable mates. (6) Beyond her jaunty wit and comic timing, she remains at bottom unimaginative and snobbish, and she will never comprehend the profound change in spirit and ambition that slowly develops in her daughter.
This pervasive atmosphere in St. Mawr of emasculated libido and contorted gender-definition is intensified as the narrative moves closer to the horse's stable by way of introducing the epicene Mr. Saintsbury, the owner of the mews, who "flashed his old-maid's smile" (27). But there is nothing androgynous or even phallic about this imposing stallion. (7) Our view of him is always defined by Lou's remarkably attentive and intimate perspective. Her first perception of him resonates throughout the work with the depth of Lou's intimate awareness and the heightened sensitivity of this animal. Here the focused incisiveness of Lou's eyes provides details that are as acute and fetishistic as those emanating from an infatuated soul-mate, as the horse responds to Saintsbury's touch with a minute body signal that only Lou Carrington could possibly notice: "Loquacious even with the animals, he went softly forward and laid his hand on the horse's shoulder, soft and quiet as a fly settling. Lou saw the brilliant skin of the horse crinkle a little in apprehensive anticipation" (28). Already described as "half in love" (28) with St. Mawr, it is for Lou his inscrutability, the unfathomability of his profound otherness that entrances her. He stands before her as an elusive compound of embodied strength and anxious sensitivity that seems to emanate from some older and long-displaced world: "He was of such a lovely red-gold colour, and a dark, invisible fire seemed to come out of him [...] somewhere deep in his animal consciousness lived a dangerous, half-revealed resentment" (28). (8) It is interesting to note that when Lou, buried in a marriage that exudes the tepid sexuality of siblings, is informed shortly that St. Mawr is a stallion, "she became more afraid of him," and she also quickly learns with apparent relief that, although raised for stud purposes, he doesn't "seem to fancy the mares" (29). No carnality or even the hint of erotic passion in this novella of any kind--by human or animal--and oddly enough, no regrets by Lawrence. He has a different direction in mind.
Whether inferred from Lou's reactions or from the bearing of this massive horse, such are the early signals in this work of its phallophobic texture, representing an important realignment in this turbulent period of Lawrence's life of the usual doctrinal priorities of his fiction. When Lou "laid her hand on his side, and gently stroked him," she is "startled to feel the vivid heat of his life come through to her," and in her "weary young woman's soul, an ancient understanding seemed to flood in" (30). This looming sense of otherness perceived by Lou is not the usual typology of male-female polarity often depicted in Lawrence's fiction. It is rather an intuitive sense in her--intensified by that resonant phrase of "ancient understanding"--that the horse's inner heat ("as if that mysterious fire of the horse's body had split some rock in her" (30)) suggests the remnant of an understanding between human and animal that exists no more. In this formative context, Lawrence initiates further reading in Frazer's The Golden Bough just before he begins writing St. Mawr, and the essential influence of that monumental study is evident throughout the novella. (9) Frazer emphasizes that in primitive cultures it was believed that animals possess defined and accessible souls; that Lou consistently can sense so much emotional architecture in the horse merely by observing surface details ("great, glowing, fearsome eyes, arched with a question and containing a white blade of light like a threat" (31)) directly illustrates Frazer's research into the old totemic belief that human and animal "are united by a bond of human sympathy" (792). This ideal unity from the past provides an instance of the Pan-energy Lawrence extols in "Pan in America," for it exemplifies that essay's focus on the "vivid relatedness between the man and the living universe" (160)--a connection at the heart of Lawrence's panophilic preoccupations in 1923-24. Significantly, when Lou presents the horse as a gift to her unmanly husband--with the implied offering of this animal's considerable strength and authority--he typically quips that he would "prefer a car" (32), recalling Lawrence's scathing criticism in the essay of the modern reliance on the increasing "mechanism of the human world" and its accompanying indolence "for the sake of a motor-car" (164).
What remains so intriguing in Lawrence's portrait of St. Mawr himself--as it will be for the celebrated pine tree at the Kiowa ranch--is that both images initially appear to reflect Lawrence's standard form of phallicism; but in each case the potential of this symbolic association is unfulfilled because of the distinct phallophobia that informs each description. Here Lou tries to rouse the horse from its unreceptive drowse, and note the provocative terms of her failure: "And she spoke softly, dreamily stroked the animal's neck. She could feel a response gradually coming from him. But he would not lift up his head" (35). That pivotal qualifier "but" carries the real meaning of the moment. Even the most gentle rousing will not work, for the recipient of the caress is not embodied (or erect) malehood, but the karmic reappearance of the vestigial remnants of Pan. (10) St. Mawr elects not to stand tall in the scene, as Lawrence projects both the reality of his own wounded phallic self onto the horse's petulant disinclination and the compensatory doctrine within the keen awareness of Lady Carrington. Lawrence further describes the "older, heavily potent world" that St. Mawr recalls, a "prehistoric twilight" inhabited by Pan that he evokes in his repeated image clusters of "the old Greek horses" and "the old Greek horses, even Hippolytus" (35). As the narrative begins to portray the horse as an uncomfortable creature out of his comfort zone in the modern world, he increasingly is depicted as an avatar of fertile energy rather than sexual prowess. Frazer writes that the spirits of germination "are not infrequently represented in the form of horses" and that such an animal "was sometimes originally the god himself," that is, "a deity of vegetation" (552). (11)
There is one character in St. Mawr who articulates seminal aspects of the mythologies and superstitions described in The Golden Bough and then appropriated by Lawrence within the scope of Pan ideology. The groom Lewis radiates a special sensitivity to the mysterious energy emanating from this horse. When Phoenix asks him why St. Mawr never gets any foals, his answer establishes a kinship with the animal that is directly related to the doctrinal texture permeating the novella: "Doesn't want to, I should think. Same as me" (46). The unintimidating and diminutive Lewis is far from an embodiment of Pan, but his presence as an acolyte becomes crucial when he later outlines in the trip with Mrs. Witt some unusual notions and visionary metaphors that are crucial to the panophilic context of the work. While Lou and Phoenix manifest some flirtatious interest in each other early in St. Mawr, such conventional sexual attraction will dissipate for her during their drive to the Kiowa ranch when she contemplates the manipulative chauvinism and inherent laziness in his character. Long before Lou's climactic recognition of the essential significance for her of the ranch, Lawrence provides a glimpse of her ability to "connect" to the landscape even while she remains in England. This apprentice appreciation of the animistic energy in her surroundings is an intimation of her epiphany in New Mexico. It is the first step in her education: "She had learned the new joy: to do absolutely nothing, but to lie and let the sunshine filter through the leaves, to see the bunch of red-hot-poker flowers pierce scarlet in the afternoon" (55). Buoyed by the feeling of independence suggested by her awareness of a "new joy," she begins to formulate--for the first time in her life--a growing aversion to the complexities and compromises required by sexual intimacy and by the institution of marriage: "I'm the harem type, mother: only I never want the men inside the lattice" (55).
Lou's developing vision of life is constantly contrasted with her mother's values and desires. Mrs. Witt remains quite willing--as she will demonstrate in her marriage proposal to Lewis--to let the men enter the lattice, but only if they follow her inflexible directions and precisely fill her sexual needs. She willfully cuts Lewis's hair not for any cosmetic imperative but only to enjoy his discomfort over the subjugation of his male sense of self. Indeed, Lewis later will reject her proposal and the monetary security she offers because the groom understands the contempt that underlies her interest in him. Frazer spends several pages in The Golden Bough on illustrating how the old myths stress the intrinsic relation between a man's effectiveness and his hair. In one section he describes how in a Greek folk-tale, "a man's strength lies in three golden hairs on his head" (777). Mrs. Witt enacts the rituals embedded in some of the most prominent classical themes, as Lawrence integrates the diverse symbologies of the Morai and the Harpy in the predatory approach of Mrs. Witt to the helpless head of Lewis: "She poised a pair of long scissors like one of the fates [...] holding those terrifying shears with their beak erect" (57-58). While Mrs. Witt, no doubt, has not read the work of James Frazer, she gleefully senses in the proud and isolate Lewis how much his sense of manhood is threatened by her emasculating shears. She complements her approach to him with her unLawrencean pontification about the defining qualities of goodness in a man. When she gratuitously expresses admiration for "the animal in man," she makes it plain that her real goal is to relentlessly domesticate that very quality, for "one likes stroking a cat's fur" (59). (12) But as always in St. Mawr, the sound and substance of Lawrence's emotions and vision are filtered through the daughter. Lou responds to her mother's attitudinizing with a statement of her own fatigue over the endless conflict inherent in love relationships: "I don't want intimacy mother--I'm too tired of it all" (60). Recall Lawrence's uncharacteristically exhausted and capitulative response to Mabel Luhan's provocations in the days just preceding his completion of the novella and after weeks of living amid the emotional and sexual tensions that accompany the uncomfortably close presence in his life at Kiowa of the unmanageable triangle of Frieda, Mabel, and Brett: "'Nay, nay, lass'; he said in a voice ever so gentle and low. 'I am never really mad any more'" (Ellis 177). It is a denial steeped in the fatigue of a man without the energy or interest in resolving the commotions and competitions that swirl about him.
It is at this point in the novella, with the assertion by Lou of a lack of direction and transcendent meaning in her life--"I want the wonder back again, or I shall die" (62)--that Lawrence introduces an eccentric but crucial character who appears in only one scene in the novella. As a wizened and wise man who looks goatish and emanates the regretful tone of a fallen Pan, Cartwright speaks with experienced insight and admiration for the ancient mythologies that form the doctrinal center of this work. (13) He exists to provide a short but illuminating explanation about the origin and history of the Pan figure, and much in his commentary corresponds to the didactic content of Lawrence's essay, "Pan in America." He confidently describes the authentic Pan not as an embodiment of Wordsworthian sensibility or as an anthropomorphic God. Cartwright insists that Pan is properly seen as a palpable yet inscrutable force--"the hidden mystery--the hidden cause," and he suggests that the human perception of such energy requires, in an eminently Lawrencean metaphor, "your third eye, which is darkness" (65). Lou pertinently asks if such Pan-power might be embodied in St. Mawr, an understandable query because of the unusual experience she has just undergone while observing the horse:
Lou escaped to look at St. Mawr. He was still moist where the saddle had been. And he seemed a little bit extinguished, as if virtue had gone out of him.
But when he lifted his lovely naked head, like a bunch of flames, to see who it was had entered, she saw he was still himself. Forever sensitive and alert, his head lifted like the summit of a fountain. And within him the clean bones striking to the earth, his hoofs intervening between him and the ground like lesser jewels.
He knew her and did not resent her. But he took no notice of her. He would never "respond." At first she resented it. Now she was glad. He would never be intimate, thank heaven. (64)
This powerful vignette--like a slow-motion unfolding of a layered symbol--forces Lou to contemplate briefly the phallic force of the huge stallion reflected in the wet emissions on the saddle. Yet Lou also notes that he ultimately lacks sexual interest in anything, and she is revealingly pleased by a disinclination in him that mirrors her own preference for singlehood. The passage remains impressive as it poetically moves between her awareness of the animal's valuable energy to her contentment about their shared aversion to intimacy. Now erect for the first time in the novella, as Lawrence twice asserts that his head is lifted, his numen is committed to the earth rather than to people.
When St. Mawr finally explodes with anger in his understandably antagonistic response to Rico's willful and incompetent handling, Lou achieves a sudden understanding of the dangerous aspect of Pan that Lawrence carefully outlines in "Pan in America"; it is the destructive component that she will comprehend more fully when she undertakes the challenge of confronting the vagaries of landscape and season at the Kiowa ranch. Lawrence insists in the essay on the inherently unpredictable force that is Pan, for "this is Pan, the Pan-mystery, the Pan-power," and "among the creatures of Pan there is an eternal struggle for life" (162). Lawrence, in effect, provides a gloss on St. Mawr as he further comments that "Pan keeps on being re-born in all kinds of strange shapes" (156), and Lou's sudden insight about the horse also represents a larger awareness of (quite literally!) the underbelly of Pan:
It was something horrifying, something you could not escape from. It had come to her as in a vision, when she saw the pale gold belly of the stallion upturned, the hoofs working wildly, the wicked curved hams of the horse, and then the evil straining of that arched, fish-like neck, with the dilated eyes of the head. (78)
This virtual philogenetic word-painting, describing a serpent-fish-goat-horse creature, presents a composite-image of Pan common in Greek mythology. The Hellenic versions of satyrs frequently combine qualities of man, snake, and hoofed-animals such as horses and goats, and in terms of basic morphology, they all resemble the prevailing perception of Pan as a form of centaur. (14) Lou's brief glimpse of evil extends to her realization about the essential cowardice of humanity and the related inclination--so evident in the Manby girls and their many suitors--to "undermine" (79). It is appropriate to read the following passage and its angry irony as an implicit recollection by Lawrence of his recent experience at the Cafe Royal dinner and as a restatement of its dominant theme of betrayal. The fury here projected through Lou's refracted perspective may strike the one false note in the novella, for the precise wording of her judgment is too intrusively Lawrence's:
Let us undermine one another. There is nothing to believe in, so let us undermine everything [...]. Never, by any chance, injure your fellow man openly. But always injure him secretly [...] inward treachery, in a game of betrayal, betrayal, betrayal. The last of the gods of our era, Judas supreme! (79, emphasis original) (15)
Lawrence is more effective when he uses Lewis's discussion with Mrs. Witt during their trip together to suggest the ancient taboos and totemic customs embedded in his version of panophilia. The entire episode with these unlikely fellow travelers constitutes one of the most memorable and unorthodox doctrinal interludes in all of Lawrence's fiction; it conveys the magical aura of mythic beliefs through the cathartic and metaphoric language of an uneducated but sensitive Welshman who remains proud and undefensive about the rituals and stories that conditioned his approach to life as a young boy. In his unintrusive and detached narrative framework for the scene, Lawrence does not endorse the extra-terrestrial dimensions of Lewis's cosmology, but he wisely permits this impeccably honest groom to articulate the transcendent ideas virtually without interruption. In effect, his gentle language of fantasy carries with it an appealing momentum and legitimacy, and his words finally function as an unlikely and radical antidote to the uber-rationalist and cynical world that Lawrence openly deplores in St. Mawr and "Pan in America." What Lewis so earnestly portrays to a bemused Mrs. Witt bends the limits of realistic discourse; Lawrence enhances the power of Lewis's visionary dialogue by backgrounding the scene with a bewitching landscape that remains suitable for the improbable content of Lewis's descriptions.
The episode develops like an inset stage-scene or a flash transition in a film--with no preparation for its dramatic appearance within the developing narrative of the cross-country journey to Merriton. It abruptly begins with an invocation that itself is integrated by a haunting iteration of a full name, a legendary place, and an astral superstition, as the tone of the novella suddenly changes. We are thrust into the world of a child's picture-book by the fabulous tone and metaphors that invite us. Even Mrs. Witt must be impressed:
So, in a while she came to the edge of the wood's darkness, and saw the open pale concave of the world beyond. [...] Yet, as Rachel Witt drew rein at the gate emerging from the wood, a very big, soft star fell in heaven, cleaving the hubbub of this human night with a gleam from the greater world. (107)
It is Lawrence functioning as the off-stage narrator or cinematic voice-over who introduces the dialogue that meshes with the fairy-tale ambiance created by the above lines. The sudden statement of Mr. Witt's married name suggests the imposition of a pleasing fluidity of time and space just before Lewis begins his talk--a bending of the stabilities of sequence and place that function conventionally in the rest of the novella. This chrono-kinetic effect is complemented by the presence of the shooting star, creating an atmosphere of magical-realism that is perfect for two characters who stand exactly on the demarcation line where all the haunting tales of our childhood begin: on "the edge of the wood's darkness," where once existed, at "the woods-edge, the darkness of the old Pan" (107).
Lewis quickly connects his observation of the star to a talismanic belief in the transcendent "long-distance places in the sky," an area for him not amenable to rational confirmation or empirical analysis: "I think I hear something, though I wouldn't call it God" (107). He elaborates with relevant detail on the contrasting qualities of various trees, concentrating on their animistic properties and elaborating on the significance of each type of tree for the life rhythms of human beings. One of the distinctive aspects of Lewis's benedictive descriptions is its reverse anthropomorphism--what I regard as a profound and committed arbomorphism: the honor he bestows on the Pan-livingness of trees is conveyed by a metaphoric taxonomy in which people are privileged to take on the qualities of trees, as the human being becomes reduced to an organic essence:
They see people live and they see people perish, and they say, people are only like twigs on a tree, you break them off the tree, and kindle fire with them. You make a fire of them, and they are gone, the fire is gone, everything is gone [...] people all appearing and disappearing like twigs that come in spring and you cut them in autumn and make a fire of them and they are gone. (108)
Lewis also elaborates on the dangerous ramifications for human life when trees are cut down, an issue that Frazer connects to the primitive belief that when there is illness, "the life of the patient depends on the life of the tree" (791). (16)
In this spectral world recalled by Lewis, he conveys a quaint authority by referring to himself in the third person and with his full name, as he continues to dramatize the luminous messages from the trees: "Is that you passing there, Morgan Lewis?" (107, emphasis original). St. Mawr, in effect, has given fictional expression to Frazer's several chapters defining the ancient theories of "sympathetic magic" (19), as Lawrence relates the Pan-like force to Lewis's discussion of bushes, trees, and the magical properties of certain foods and plants. (17) Many of the richly detailed harvest myths outlined by Frazer involve a range of rites enacted in North Pembrokeshire in Wales, including what he calls the "quaint old customs" (468) involving rituals with blades of corn; these totemic celebrations have lingered into the early twentieth century period encompassed by Lewis's childhood. Despite the groom's intense narrative and its striking imagery, he cannot budge the abiding skepticism felt by Mrs. Witt about the fantastic beliefs of his childhood. It is also fair to assume that a similarly "modern" superiority informs the perspective of the eminent scholar James Frazer on the customs and beliefs he meticulously describes in The Golden Bough. As I noted, Lawrence remains sufficiently impressed by the depth and breadth of Frazer's monumental scholarship that he returns for a more thorough reading in the spring of 1924. But in the seminal essay, "Pan in America," that he writes during this same period, he cannot resist leveling a broadside at this impeccably sober and talented researcher. Frazer's investigations clearly are valuable to Lawrence, but Frazer also embodies for him the contemporary Western world's lack of faith in the transcendent vibrations of Pan: "What can men who sit at home in their studies and drink hot milk and have lambs-wool slippers on their feet, and write anthropology, what can they possibly know about men, the men of Pan?" (162).
In the series of letters Lou writes to her mother, Lawrence's ear for light social satire and perfectly-pitched mimicry is on full display. He also uses Lou's account of the events to develop amusingly the novella's phallophobia, as Lou describes Rico in those absurd pajamas that extravagantly display a priapus logo. The terrain of masculinity and amorous engagement is meant to be out of joint in this work and in the world, and Lawrence enjoys sending out the signals of such denuded sexuality. There is a husband who is content with a platonic relationship with his wife and adolescent flirtations with shallow lady-friends, a groom who shuns intimacy with any woman, and another groom who fancies a manipulative erotic connection to Lou. On the drive to Kiowa that Lou ill-advisedly takes with the predatory Phoenix, she begins to comprehend his profound limitations as a potential lover. Initially attracted to Phoenix's isolate, confident, and mysterious sense of self, Lou is mature enough to realize that his chauvinistic and uncommitted sense of sexual passion is too confining and unimaginative to sustain her interest: "How could there be any answer in her to the phallic male in him? [...] Only, the aboriginal phallic male in him simply couldn't recognize her as a woman at all" (135). With such depressing recognition that she cannot risk intimacy with Phoenix, we sense again the exhaustion and despair in a D. H. Lawrence who felt he had been betrayed by Frieda and Murry at the Cafe Royal earlier that year and is now caught at Kiowa within the competing tensions and rivalries of his wife and two other women. Lou wants what Lawrence desperately wants: "She knew what she wanted. She wanted relief from the nervous tension and irritation of her life, she wanted to escape from the friction which is the whole stimulus in modern social life. She wanted to be still: only that, to be very, very still, and recover her own soul" (137).
Part of this recovery for Lou will entail what amounts to the calibrated imposition by her of a new chastity--a modern equivalent of "the meaning of the Vestal Virgins," who "were symbolic of herself, a woman, weary of the embrace of incompetent men" (138). (18) The keen awareness in Lou of the inadequacies of the opposite sex merges into the larger framework of discontent that has relevance for the emotional and physical disposition of Lawrence from late 1923 through the summer of 1924. The essential balancing of male and female polarities--a "singling-out" that during the preceding decade often was a shorthand for that "baptism of fire" in passion that leads to the Lawrencean "unknown"--such a syndrome no longer works for him in his life or fiction. The phallophobia so intrinsic to this novella is a reflection of postwar malaise and of the wounded state of Lawrence's body and soul. In a crucial passage, as she recalls the inanity of her marriage and the immaturity of former lovers, Lou understands the existential mandate to get beyond the self but does not know how to do it: "I want my temple and my loneliness and my Apollo mystery of the inner fire" (139). She quickly realizes--with the authority and poetry of a Joycean epiphany--that where she now stands, above Taos, New Mexico, offers itself as a living remnant of Pan-fire, and the flames are etched in the surrounding landscape: "She felt a great peace inside herself as she made this realization. And a thankfulness. Because, after all, it seemed to her that the hidden fire was alive and burning in this sky, over the desert, in the mountains" (139). As Frazer explains, the image of Apollo "was thought to impart superhuman strength," and the fire here associated with Apollo suggests the fertility-worship rites in Scotland and France to honor "the ancient Celtic god Grannus, whom the Romans identified with Apollo" (110, 708). Lou's search for the fertile grounds of a new existence will not end with a man but with a ceremony of recognition, quite simply, of where she wants to live.
Lawrence is acutely aware of the danger, as he archly describes it in "Pan in America," of letting Pan-power reduce itself to an easy and often sentimental pantheism akin to the ideology of the British Romantic poets. Lou's commitment to her "spirit of the place" (143) in New Mexico--for Lawrence a term that always amounts to the spirit of Pan--focuses on an isolated and decrepit ranch on the exposed side of a mountain; in reality, the ranch is recognizably Kiowa, the mountain Lobo, and it provides a vantage point overlooking an impressive desert vista and a distant range of towering mountains. The ranch carries a history of energetic but ultimately failed management through the several generations of ownership that vainly sought to manage the savage vicissitudes of the seasons and the encroaching animals and plant-life that gradually undermined its productivity. A key phrase is introduced when Lawrence makes more precise the implications of Apollo fire by referring to Lou's signal contemplation of "the latent fire of the vast landscape" (140). Its most prominent expression resides in "the great pine-tree" (144) that Lawrence celebrates a few months earlier in "Pan in America"--the same tree that his friend, Georgia O'Keeffe, memorialized in her painting, D.H. Lawrence Pine Tree, 1929.
This huge tree stands as a graphic microcosm of Lawrence's emphasis in St. Mawr on the interplay between panophilia and phallophobia. What Lawrence describes, with the unsubtle phrasing of sublimated erotic energy, as "the stimulus" of the ranch "seemed to enter like a sort of sex passion, intensifying her ego" (144). Is this pattern not a transparent version of the primal ego-support Lawrence once enjoyed with Frieda that was annealed in their sexual appetite for each other? Note the important contrast in emphasis between the description of this same tree in "Pan in America" and St. Mawr. In the earlier description from the essay, there is a focus on aspects of panophilia evident in Lawrence's perception of the tree, variously describing it as a "guardian spirit," with a "powerful will of its own"; similar to the eternal vestiges of Pan that have survived into the modern era, it "is always there, alive and changeless, alive and changing," with an "aura of life," and "still within the allness of Pan [...] [it] is a tree, which is still Pan" (157, 158). As Lou will discover when she bravely takes ownership of the ranch, her life will be intimately connected to (and ultimately dependent upon) the shifting parameters and intensities of Pan-energy, symbolized for Lawrence by this powerful tree. Lawrence sounds unequivocal and Biblical in tone in "Pan in America" about these permeable and transformative effects:
And we live beneath it, without noticing. Yet sometimes, when one suddenly looks far up and sees those wild doves there, or when one glances quickly at the inhuman-human hammering of a woodpecker, one realizes that the tree is asserting itself as much as I am. It gives out life, as I give out life. Our two lives meet and cross one another, unknowingly: the tree's life penetrates my life, and my life the tree's. We cannot live near one another, as we do, without affecting one another. [...] It vibrates its presence into my soul, and I am one with Pan. (158)
Just a couple of months later, as Lawrence describes the same tree in St. Mawr, there are two significant adjustments in his perspective. First is the recognition of the more aggressive and intimidating elements within Pan-energy not evident in the rhapsodic words from "Pan in America" about the tree's "assertive" and "vibrating" qualities absorbed by Lawrence. The novella highlights the tree's "callous indifference," its "grim permanence," and the alarming sound of "the wind hissing in the needles, like a vast nest of serpents" (144). This dualistic panophilia anticipates the range of challenges Lou must encounter with the Kiowa ranch as an integral part of her inheritance of Pan-power. But secondly, the energy embodied in this tree is accompanied with a phallophobia that Lawrence announces in explicit terms. If Lou does feel the stimulus of New Mexico "like a sort of sex passion" that serves to intensify her ego, Lawrence adds a reiterated caveat in relation to the tree's atavistic qualities: "A passionless, non-phallic column, rising in the shadows of the pre-sexual world, before the hot-blooded ithyphallic column ever erected itself" (144, emphases mine). In case there is any doubt concerning Lawrence's revised attitude about the tree, he repeats again his pointed caution in the description of its pine cones, "lying all over the yard, open in the sun like wooden roses, but hard, sexless, rigid with a blind will" (144).
Lou Witt will now direct her energy and ego into the constant struggle of leading a productive and vitalized life at the Kiowa ranch. Such a strenuous commitment to both engage and absorb Pan-power offers no guarantee of success--only the excitement and profound meaning in undertaking the challenge. Thus she will encounter Lawrencean otherness as her portal to the transcendent, not from a man but from the powerful and distinctly unphallic "spirit of place" that is situated in the enveloping landscape of New Mexico. And what a landscape of inspiring otherness it is, as Lawrence now provides one of the longest and most poetic sentences in all his work; his prose sweeps across the livid tiers of the topography with a wide-angle lens that captures the coloration and--in the evocative French phrase--the differance that constitutes the source of Lou's renewal: (20)
The desert swept its great fawn-coloured circle around, away beyond and below like a breach, with a long mountain-side of pure blue shadow closing in the near corner, and strange bluish hummocks of mountains rising like wet rock from a vast strand, away in the middle distance, and beyond, in the farthest distance, pale blue crests of mountains looking over the horizon, from the west, as if peering in from another world altogether. (145)
What Lawrence describes in "Pan in America" as the essential energy that emanates from the "vivid relatedness between the man and the living universe that surrounds him" (160) has become more threateningly in St. Mawr a dangerous panoply where "the great circling landscape lived its own life, sumptuous and uncaring. Man did not exist for it" (146). Frazer speculates about the "original character of Attis as a tree spirit," about the central role the pine tree plays in his legend, and about how and why "the Phrygians should have worshipped the pine above other trees" (409). His conclusions define what amounts to a precise integration of the tree's central function for Lawrence as an eternal, unphallic, yet fertile symbol of endurance that conveniently recalls the sweep of Frazer's precise wording on the source and embodiment of the very Pan-power Lawrence describes in the novella. It is fair to wonder if Lawrence has absorbed not only the substance of Frazer's superb scholarship, but also the exact metaphors and perspectives of his prose. The similarities are intriguing:
Perhaps the sight of its changeless, though somber, green cresting the ridges of the high hills above the fading splendour of the autumn woods in the valleys may have seemed to their eyes to mark it out as the seat of diviner life, of something exempt from the sad vicissitudes of the seasons, constant and eternal as the sky which stooped to meet it. (409)
For more than a century, highlighted both by Freud's important and informal essay on civilized sexual morality followed in 1909 by his controversial study on Leonardo da Vinci's aesthetics and psychology, it has been understood that the process of sublimation can contribute effectively to the creation of great art. (21) Anna Freud will develop her father's pioneering theories into the more liberalized construct that regards sublimation as an integral part of a person's defense system and asserts that it contributes to normative ego development. Given Lawrence's intense feelings of sexual betrayal, his scarcely repressed anger toward Frieda and Murry, and his volatile emotions and increasing sexual incapacity, his artistic achievement must stand as a graphic example of the basic notion, summarized by the scholar Lore Schacht, that "the pleasure the person gets from sublimation is something more stable, without the ups and downs, with more continuity in it than the pleasure from instinctual satisfaction" (qtd. in Sandler 184) In this context, Anna Freud virtually stipulates the dynamics of Lawrence's conception of the three Murry stories when she describes, in The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence, how "the readiness with which such instinctual processes can be displaced assists the mechanism of sublimation" (192). Yet an inevitable question must arise in any psychobiographical speculation about D. H. Lawrence from the winter of 1923-24 through the late summer of 1924. Can the defense mechanisms anatomized by Freud and his daughter really provide Lawrence with the sufficient confidence and clarity to formulate an integrated set of beliefs such as panophilia, and can such doctrine give him the sense of completion, release, and satisfaction that is so intrinsic to the physiology and psychosomatics of consummated sex? Can an uncharacteristic interval for Lawrence of reiterated phallophobia serve to keep him reasonably effective and fulfilled as man, husband, and artist? Here is Freud's applicable affirmative response in some of his most quoted and influential remarks:
If this displaceable energy is desexualized libido, it may also be described as sublimated energy; for it would still retain the main purpose of Eros--that of uniting and binding--in so far as it helps toward establishing the unity or tendency to unity, which is particularly characteristic of the ego. If thought-processes in the wider sense are to be included in these displacements, then the activity of thinking is also supplied from the sublimation of erotic motive forces. (35)
Freud's comments above conveniently encompass both the motivation and implementation of Lawrence's ability to establish "the unity" that is "characteristic of the ego" of this artistic "processer" of thought and doctrine. Something more dramatic, however, occurs in St. Mawr than the common mechanism of sublimation-through-displacement. Lou Witt's fragmentary yet ultimately unified articulation of panophilia mirrors the tone and substance of Lawrence's own emotions and "thought-processes" at the time of the novella's composition. In St. Mawr Lawrence successfully demonstrates the uncommon instance in fictional art of a cross-gendered authorial projection--the process by which one's own traits and emotions are attributed to someone else. He recreates himself in drag-disguise as Lady Carrington to carry forth his visionary message, and the reason for undertaking such a daring and clever literary camouflage across the formal categories of sex and class is not difficult to decipher. Would not a male voice of phallophobia sound too plaintive, too close to the anguish of Lawrence's own problematic libido and marital pain for him to tolerate its public utterance--or even, perhaps, for him to consciously confront for himself the meaning of such projection? He famously told us to trust the tale and not the artist, and I suspect much of the psychological generativity of St. Mawr properly resides beyond his awareness.
Aside from the doctrinal and emotional correspondencies between Lawrence and Lou, how precisely synchronous is his own sensibility to her projected perspective in the novella? Here is Lou in the latter pages of the work, as the narrative resonates with the remarkable anachronism of a pre-channelled D. H. Lawrence summoning the future voice and rhythm of the man from The Escaped Cock: "You know, dear, I ache in every fibre to be left alone, from all that sort of thing. I feel like all bruises, like one who has been assassinated. I do so understand why Jesus said: Noli me tangere. Touch me not, I am not yet ascended unto the father. Everything had hurt him so much" (120). As an even more eerie example of anticipatory narrative that spans the boundaries of gender and chronology, Lou now formulates the tone and outlook of Oliver Mellors, as Lawrence in a few years will return to the phallic centrality absent in St. Mawr. Lou's voice here remains so intimately cathartic for Lawrence himself that she becomes--unbeknownst to the artist who created her--the harbinger and herald for a future step in his career development. All she needs is Mellors's dialect. Lou's rumination even employs, in the last word of the passage, the exact term that Lawrence soon will consider as the first title for Lady Chatterley's Lover:
It seems to me men and women have really hurt one another so much, nowadays, that they had better stay apart till they have learned to be gentle with one another again. Not all this forced passion and destructive philandering. Men and women should stay apart, till their hearts grow gentle towards one another again. Now, it's only each one fighting for his own--or her own--underneath the cover of tenderness. (122)
An additional question remains, involving the issue of Lawrence's stylistic presentation of his doctrine in St. Mawr. Why is he so insistent, so dogmatic, so reiterative about the essential elements of panophilia and phallophobia that inform the work? On one level, of course, the foreword to Women in Love addresses the issue of repetition and its relation to "the struggle for verbal consciousness" (486) in his art. But something more fundamental is at work in this intimately revealing novella, as the work must recall Lawrence's seminal letter to McCloud more than a decade earlier: "But one sheds one's sickness in books--repeats and presents again one's emotions, to be master of them" (Letters II 90). Lawrence writes St. Mawr as explicit confirmation of the viability of that central metaphor in the letter to his friend after the publication of Sons and Lov-ers: he uses this novella to "shed" his emotional tension and weakening libido through an integrated process of sublimation and projection. Then an alarming circumstance intervenes during his composition of this work. About five weeks before Lawrence completes St. Mawr, he ominously spits "bright red blood" for the first time, and although Lawrence and Frieda might pretend "nothing wrong, the lungs are strong," I suspect David Ellis is correct in his speculation that from August 1924, "it is legitimate to regard him as tubercular" (195).
On September 13, 1924, Lawrence completes St. Mawr. Events occur that day that may have coincidental--or even karmic--relevance as he composes the concluding lines of the work. He first writes a letter to Professor Edward McDonald in which he explains that on the previous day he posted to this devoted and scrupulous compiler of Lawrence's publications "the little preface" that he titles "The Bad Side of Books" (Letters V 119). This lyrical and endearing essay has much in it about Lawrence's family life and formative beliefs that is memorable, but perhaps its most moving lines involve the reactions of his father as he holds in his hands Lawrence's first book, The White Peacock, and responds to his son's proud admission that he received fifty pounds for the work: "'Fifty pounds.' He was dumbfounded, and looked at me with shrewd eyes, as if I were a swindler. 'Fifty pounds! An' tha's niver done a hard day's work in thy life'" (Introductions and Reviews 75). Clearly, to this unimaginative miner and hard-working yet undisciplined man, such payment for the achievement of the mind seems beyond his reductive understanding of the legitimate province of masculine exertion and reward. Arthur Lawrence's comment reflects his inability to understand his talented son as well as the sad fact of the gradual deterioration of the father's aura of respect in a home ruled by the indomitable Lydia Lawrence. A decade later the wound to his married son's pride occasioned by betrayal and illness could be camouflaged and sublimated by the artifice of narrative projection in St. Mawr. But the encroachment on his father's sense of male authority primarily through the dominant will and fierce resentment of the mother was beyond the ability of Arthur to repress or to counter with effective strategy.
Later on the same day of the novella's completion, Lawrence is informed by a cablegram from his sister Emily that their father has died, and the next day he writes a short but revealing note to her acknowledging his pain: "It was the last thing I expected. Ada had just written he was as well as ever--it is better to be gone than lingering on half helpless and half alive. But it upset one, nevertheless, makes a strange break" (Letters V 124). Yes, Lawrence will increasingly revise the negative opinion of his father in the six years remaining in his own life; he comes to realize more fully his unfortunate lack of empathy for Arthur's besieged plight, as well as his overestimate of the salutary role of Lydia in the intensely matriarchal household. There may be even more encoded within Lawrence's mournful and measured response to his father's death, and perhaps it involves the tone imposed on the conclusion of St. Mawr, as Lawrence completes, edits, or revises those final lines on September 13th with the haunting echo of the incident with his father--recorded for posterity just days earlier in "The Bad Side of Books"--no doubt lingering in his understandably recollective mind. The clipped and ironic ending of the novella has never felt right to me, with a sense of abruptness and interruption created by the gratuitous and meek concession in Mrs. Witt's concluding comment, "Then I call it cheap, considering all there is to it: even the name" (155)! Given her abiding skepticism about buying the long-embattled Kiowa ranch, it is a witty and unconvincing response to Lou's sincere enthusiasm for what the ranch means to her. It serves also as the for-record statement of the $1200 purchase price--exactly the amount that Mabel reportedly paid for it. In "The Bad Side of Books," Arthur's amazement at the fifty pounds received by his son is followed by Lawrence's unforgiving and hurt response: "I think to this day, he looks upon me as a sort of cleverish swindler, who gets money for nothing" (76). The phrase "to this day" must give Lawrence pause, for now Arthur has no days remaining. Lawrence completes this confessional essay less than two weeks before he mails it the evening before he finishes St. Mawr on September 13th, a date on which the phrase must have echoed for the son with a poignant guilt. Thus both "The Bad Side of Books" and St. Mawr, in the scene with his father and in the conclusion to the novella, respectively, sound a note of victorious achievement against the similar allegations of the naive father and the cynical Mrs. Witt that Lawrence and Lou are getting something for nothing. So the ending of St. Mawr may be right after all--with Lawrence claiming a victory against unbelievers as he appropriates a ranch and landscape for his own. The Lawrence of September 1924 needs victories wherever he can get them. On that same and by now ultra-meaningful September 13th, Lawrence writes to his publisher, Martin Secker, about the completion of St. Mawr and implicitly about the energy required of him to sustain the magic of literary projection in the work: "But thank God I don't have to write it again. It took a lot out of me" (Letters V 122).
Norman Mailer's summary comment on Lawrence's fundamental desires and embattled marriage suggests the core of Lawrence's frustrations as artist and lover in 1924. It can also serve as a relevant gloss on the impinging circumstances in Lawrence's life that lead to the compensatory creation of doctrine and disguise in St. Mawr:
And sexual transcendence, some ecstasy where he could lose his ego for a moment, and his sense of self, and his will was life to him--he could not live without sexual transcendence. [...] His lungs were poor, and he lived with the knowledge that he would likely have an early death. Each time he failed to reach a woman, each time he failed particularly to reach his own woman, he was dying a little. [...] He was ill, and his wife was literally killing him each time she failed to worship his most proud and delicate cock. (155-156) (22)
(1.) I remain indebted to the comprehensive work of David Ellis in the third volume of the Cambridge biography for his precise sequencing of dates and events discussed in this essay and for his incisive speculations on Lawrence's emotions and preoccupations during the 1923-24 period. Much of my own analysis clearly starts with several conclusions in Ellis's probing work, and his judicious methodology must stand as a model of objectivity and insight concerning Lawrence's life and artistic achievement.
(2.) For some of the most provocative considerations of these controversial incidents, I recommend the revealing accounts in Ellis 143-153; John Worthen's D. H. Lawrence: The Life of an Outsider (New York: Counterpoint, 2005) 290-302; Michael Squiers and Lynne K. Talbot's Living at the Edge: A Biography of D. H. Lawrence and Frieda von Richthofen (Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 2002) 276-285; Jeffrey Meyers's D. H. Lawrence: A Biography (New York: Cooper Square P, 1990) 305-308; and Elaine Feinstein's Lawrence and the Women: The Intimate Life of D. H. Lawrence (New York: Harper Collins, 1993) 196-203.
(3.) For further discussion of the artistic and psychological consequences of Lawrence's sexual health and libido, see Mark Spilka's Renewing the Normative D. H. Lawrence: A Personal Progress (Columbia: U of Missouri Press, 1992) 70-95, and my essays: "Scorched Ego, the Novel, and the Beast: Patterns of Fourth Dimensionality in The Virgin and the Gipsy" (Papers on Language and Literature 29 : 395-416); "Freud, Frazer, and Lawrence's Palimpsestic Novella: Dreams and the Heaviness of Male Destiny in The Fox" (Studies in the Novel 38 : 211-233); and "Thirteen Ways of Looking at The Ladybird: D. H. Lawrence, Lady Cynthia Asquith, and the Incremental Structure of Seduction" (Studies in the Humanities 36 : 13-50).
(4.) See several relevant essays in Mornings in Mexico and Other Essays (Ed. Virginia Cross-white Hyde. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009): "Indians and Entertainment" (59-68), "The Dance of the Sprouting Corn" (71-76), "Pan in America" (155-164), and "The Hopi Snake Dance" (79-94).
(5.) F. R. Leavis writes eloquently of "the economy of these opening pages" (226), and his pioneering essay more than fifty years ago helped to establish the reputation of this novella. On that same issue of the tone and effectiveness of the first few pages of St. Mawr, Fleishman seems less sensitive to the intricacies and economies of Lawrence's perspective, believing that they "can be faulted for their tinsel and casualness" (171-172).
(6.) Even several of our finest critics on Lawrence tend to be excessively impressed by the remarks of Mrs. Witt. While Cowan does comprehend her destructive side, he puts too much stock in the value to Lou of her mother's caustic barbs and satirical portraits; Ellis does not sufficiently develop the acknowledged element of Lawrence's "authorial satire" (191) of Mrs. Witt herself--a puncturing of her own set of pretenses that tends to diminish the power of her societal critiques. I do like the resonant phrase used by Hough in his description of her essential demeanor--a "hideous virility" (182). Simpson totally misses the edge of Lawrence's disapproval of Mrs. Witt, claiming that Lawrence is correct because "no criticism is offered of the strong-willed sardonic American"; Simpson further oddly asserts that "Lawrence allows her natural superiority to the other characters to shine through unimpeded" (117).
(7.) Cowan mistakenly sees the horse as "the incarnation of prelapsarian phallic mystery" (91). Wilde considers the function of the ranch as an "anticipation of the reborn society, the phallic millennium" (167-168). Vivas criticizes Lawrence severely for abruptly dropping the horse from virtually all consideration after the novella moves to America (150-164). That decision by Lawrence remains disconcerting but wise, as the powerful landscape of New Mexico relentlessly must replace the panophilic aspects of St. Mawr; the animal now--in a country free from the provincial restrictions of England--not coincidentally develops a fondness for the mares in his new and unfettered environment that Lawrence acknowledges in a mere aside. Indeed, even the meekest "phallic" success in St. Mawr reflects Lawrence's profound aversion to such hint of eros. For another and related perceptive response to Vivas's objection, see John B. Humma's Metaphor and Meaning in D. H. Lawrence's Later Novels (Columbia: U of Missouri P, 1990) 45-61.
(8.) Cowan is excellent in showing how "Lawrence's expanding conception of the horse, the centaur, and Pan coalesce in the dynamic symbol of St. Mawr" (90). Similarly, Sagar supplies an intelligent summary of "how the horse came to focus and embody so many of Lawrence's deepest and most lasting preoccupations" (252).
(9.) See Ellis's persuasive speculations (187, 649) on the strong likelihood of Mabel Luhan offering Lawrence The Golden Bough to reread in April 1924. Vickery's valuable study of Frazer's influence on a wide range of artists and works remains the standard volume on this issue, and she is especially provocative on Lawrence. Although Vickery has little to say about St. Mawr, her summary insight about Lawrence's art works perfectly for the novella: "Lawrence's acquaintance with Frazer sharpened his sense of man's participation in the divine" (294). For more on the important influence of Frazer on Lawrence and the ways he precisely appropriates material from The Golden Bough into the thematic structure of other stories and novellas, see my "Pan and the Appleyness of Landscape: Dread of the Procreative Body in The Princess" (Studies in the Novel 34 : 282-301); "Courage at the Border-Line: Balder, Hemingway, and Lawrence's The Captain's Doll" (Papers on Language and Literature 42 : 227-263); "Freud, Frazer, and Lawrence's Palimpsestic Novella: Dreams and the Heaviness of Male Destiny in The Fox" (note 3 above), and "Thirteen Ways of Looking at The Ladybird: D. H. Lawrence, Lady Cynthia Asquith, and the Incremental Structure of Seduction" (note 3 above).
(10.) Merivale's meticulous study of the literary, artistic, and historic inheritance of the Pan figure is helpful in describing Lawrence's unusual and varied embodiment of the image in several of his works. Although she offers no in-depth treatment of St. Mawr, her framing insight about Pan's importance to Lawrence is reflected in the patterned thematics and psychobiography that I attempt to outline in this essay: "The Pan figure can be internalized, and became part of the character himself, in the fashion of D. H. Lawrence" (147).
(11.) See Merivale's relevant discussion of how the "rites of Attis and Osiris appear as mythpoeic vegetative form in St. Mawr" (319), as she anticipates my treatment of pine trees in the novella.
(12.) Frazer notes that the Celts of Gaul indulged in sacrificial rituals in which "the victims most commonly burned in modern bonfires have been cats" (761); as Mrs. Witt progressively emasculates Lewis in this scene, the line between his enforced domestication and his ritual sacrifice becomes very narrow. That unusual phrase, "stroking a cat's fur," sounds more eerie in the light of Frazer's insistence that the sacrifice-festivals were "celebrated by the primitive Aryans in Europe" (761), and it is intriguing to speculate about Lawrence's view of how much in Lewis's abundant childhood mythologies recalled the long-established sacrifice of cats.
(13.) See Cowan's incisive comments on the fascinating connections between Cartwright and the image of a fallen Pan. In the brevity and centrality of Cartwright's appearance in the novella, along with his aura of lapsarian imagery and trenchant insight, he has always reminded me of Conrad's use of the French lieutenant in Lord Jim. Cartwright articulates important issues of doctrinal substance and symbolic relevance in St. Mawr, just as Conrad's "fallen" character outlines the themes of courage and cowardice that are crucial to that novel. The literary life of each character spans about four pages; they never reappear, but their words linger fatefully in the respective works.
(14.) Merivale is comprehensive on this Hellenic inheritance, and note especially her opening chapter and the relevant illustrations provided between 144-145.
(15.) Although Hough is less positive than I about the achievement of this novella, he reflects an awareness in one of his observations many decades ago that is crucial to my understanding of the generative process at work in St. Mawr. He maintains that Lawrence wrote it "out of a need and a mood that are too partial and too close" (181). As I attempt to demonstrate, the "closeness" is not "partial," and the "need" and "mood" become the springboard for great art.
(16.) See Vickery's discussion of pine trees and their relation to ancient vegetative rites outlined by Frazer and appropriated by Lawrence (294-325). I analyze more thoroughly Lawrence's treatment of the totemic aspects of trees and his relevant indebtedness to Frazer in my article on The Fox (note 3 above).
(17.) This Frazerian issue of "sympathetic magic" is developed more fully in my essay on The Ladybird (note 3 above)--a novella in which the properties of magic play a special role.
(18.) See the related discussion of virginity and the use by Lawrence of the image of the Sacred Prostitute in my essay on The Lost Girl, a work in which the heroine must avoid the advances of several "incompetent men" ("Ten Men and a Sacred Prostitute: The Psychology of Sex in the Cambridge Edition of The Lost Girl." Twentieth Century Literature 36 : 381-402).
(20.) Vickery is incisive in noting "how extensively Lawrence saw his landscape and natural settings with the eyes of the ancient people who appear in The Golden Bough" (319); perhaps also, as I have noted, he saw with the eyes of the celebrated anthropologist who describes the perspective of these ancient peoples. See my essay on "The Princess" for further discussion of Pan imagery and its relation to Lawrence's doctrines about landscape description and the province of painting (note 9 above).
(21.) See the Alan Tyson translation of Freud's Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood (New York: Norton, 1964) and note his relevant consideration of Freud's mistake concerning his infamous misinterpretation of a key word in his study. See also Peter Gay's biography of Freud for consideration of sublimation as well as the issue of Freud's translation error (Freud: A Life for Our Time. New York: Norton, 1988) 164, 272-73, 292.
(22.) For more on Mailer's insights into Lawrence's life and art, and on Lawrence's influence on Mailer, see my full-length study, D. H. Lawrence and the Phallic Imagination (New York: St. Martin's, 1989), my "From Hemingway to Lawrence to Mailer: Survival and Sexual Identity in A Farewell to Arms" (The Hemingway Review 3 : 30-43), and my "From Lady Chatterley's Lover to The Deer Park: Lawrence, Mailer, and the Dialectic of Erotic Risk" (Norman Mailer. Ed. Harold Bloom. Broomall: Chelsea House, 2003. 109-126). The latter essay quotes part of a letter to me from Mailer about the fallout from some amusing disinformation he gave to his readers concerning the Lawrence-Mailer connection.
Cowan, James. D. H. Lawrence's American Journey: A Study in Literature and Myth. Cleveland: The Press of Case Western Reserve U, 1970. Print.
Ellis, David. D. H. Lawrence: Dying Game, 1922-1930. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. Print.
Fleishman, Avrom. "He Do the Polis in Different Voices: Lawrence's Later Style." D. H. Lawrence: A Centenary Consideration. Ed. Peter Balbert and Philip Marcus. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1985. 162-179. Print.
Frazer, James. The Golden Bough. New York: Macmillan, 1963. Print. Freud, Anna. The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence. New York: International UP, 1946. Print.
Freud, Sigmund. The Ego and Id. New York: Avon, 1962. Print.
Hough, Graham. The Dark Sun: A Study of D. H. Lawrence. New York: Capricorn, 1959. Print.
Lawrence, D. H. "The Bad Side of Books." Introductions and Reviews. Ed. N. H. Reeve and John Worthen. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005. 73-78. Print.
--.The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, II, 1913-16. Ed. George J. Zytaruk and James T. Boulton. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1981. Print.
--. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, IV, 1921-24. Ed. Warren Roberts, James T. Boulton, and Elizabeth Mansfield. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987. Print.
--. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, V, 1924-27. Ed. James T. Boulton and Lindeth Vasey. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989. Print.
--. "Pan in America." Mornings in Mexico and Other Essays. Ed. Virginia Crosswhite Hyde. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. 155-164. Print.
--. St. Mawr and Other Stories. Ed. Brian Finney. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1983. Print.
--. Women in Love. Ed. David Farmer, Lindeth Vasey, and John Worthen. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987. Print.
Leavis, F. R. D. H. Lawrence: Novelist. New York: Knopf, 1955. Print.
Mailer, Norman. The Prisoner of Sex. Boston: Little Brown, 1971. Print.
Merivale, Patricia. Pan the Goat God: His Myth in Modern Times. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1969. Print.
Sagar, Keith. D. H. Lawrence: Life into Art. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1990. Print.
Sandler, Joseph, with Anna Freud. The Analysis of Defense: The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense Revisited. New York: International UP, 1985. Print.
Simpson, Hilary. D. H. Lawrence and Feminism. DeKalb: Northern Illinois UP, 1982. Print.
Vickery, John B. The Literary Impact of The Golden Bough. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1973. Print.
Vivas, Eliseo. D. H. Lawrence: The Failure and the Triumph of Art. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1964. Print.
Wilde, Alan. "The Illusion of St. Mawr: Technique and Vision in D. H. Lawrence's Later Novels." PMLA 79 (1964): 164-170. Print.
PETER BALBERT is Professor of English at Trinity University. He has published more than thirty articles on D. H. Lawrence and other modern and contemporary writers, is the author of D. H. Lawrence and the Phallic Imagination and D. H. Lawrence and the Psychology of Rhythm, and is the co-editor of D. H. Lawrence: A Centenary Consideration.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Papers on Language & Literature|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2013|
|Previous Article:||"(And you get far too much publicity already whoever you are)": gossip, celebrity, and modernist authorship in Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies.|
|Next Article:||"A fantastic, unwholesome little dream": the illusion of reality and sexual politics in H. G. Wells's: The Sea Lady.|