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ON WALTER MOREL
In Sons and Lovers, only in Morel himself, brutalized and spiritually maimed as he is, does the germ of selfhood remain intact; and- this is the correlative proposition in Lawrence- in him only does the biological life force have simple, unequivocal assertion. Morel wants to live, by hook or crook, while his sons want to die. To live is to obey a rhythm involving more than conscious attitudes and involving more than human beings- involving all nature; a rhythm indifferent to the greediness of reason, indifferent to idiosyncrasies of culture and idealism. The image associated with Morel is that of the coalpits, where he descends daily and from which he ascends at night blackened and tired. It is a symbol of rhythmic descent and ascent, like a sexual rhythm, or like the rhythm of sleep and awaking or of death and life. True, the work in the coalpits reverses the natural use of the hours of light and dark and is an economic distortion...
Dorothy Van Ghent, "On Sons and Lovers," in The English Novel: Form and Function, 1953
ON FLOWER IMAGERY
As these thoughts indicate, flowers are the most important of the "vital forces" in Sons and Lovers. The novel is saturated with their presence, and Paul and his three sweethearts are judged, again and again, by their attitude toward them, or more accurately, by their relations with them. The "lad-and-girl" affair between Paul and Miriam, for example, is a virtual communion between the two lovers and the flowers they both admire.
Mark Spilka, "How to Pick Flowers," in The Love Ethic of D. H. Lawrence, 1955
One never catches Lawrence- this is one of his most remarkable qualities- "arranging." Words, scenes flow as fast and direct as if he merely traced them with a free rapid hand on sheet after sheet. Not a sentence seems thought about twice; not a word added for its effect on the architecture of the phrase. There is no arrangement that makes us say: "Look at this. This scene, this dialogue has the meaning of the book hidden in it." One of the curious qualities of Sons and Lovers is that one feels an unrest, a little quiver and shimmer in his page, as if it were composed of separate gleaming objects, by no means content to stand still and be looked at.
Virginia Woolf, "Notes on D. H. Lawrence," in The Moment and Other Essays, 1948
Sons and Lovers moves along a structural pattern determined by the nature of its human relationships. A wave-rhythm distinguishes, in beat and counterbeat, the major involvements of the characters: those of Walter and Gertrude Morel, Paul and his mother, Paul and Miriam, and Paul and Clara. In each of these relationships, separate episodes focus- in dramatically enacted dialogue, description, and action- aspects of each character-interconnection. Each event is a successive wave, and the movement of the relationship is the full tide which is its consummation. After that consummation, there are wavelike returns to the achieved tension in that relationship, but now each wave shows a diminishing strength and intensity. The reader of Sons and Lovers soon comes to anticipate the rhythmic returns and finds himself attuned to the Lawrencean mode. He doesn't ask for the conventional climactic development.
Seymour Betsky, "Rhythm and Theme: D. H. Lawrence's 'Sons and Lovers,'" in The Achievement of D. H. Lawrence, 1953
ON D. H. LAWRENCE
To be born, with that genius, a miner's son at Eastwood in the eighteen-eighties- it is as if Destiny, having given him the genius, had arranged also that he should be enabled to develop it to the utmost and qualified to use it for the purposes for which it was meant. If he had not been born into the working-class he could not have known working-class life from the inside. As it was he enjoyed advantages that a writer middle-class born could not have had: the positive experience and a freedom both from illusions and from the debilitating sense of ignorance. On the other hand, gifted as he was, there was nothing to prevent his getting to know life at other social levels.
F. R. Leavis, "D. H. Lawrence and Human Existence," in Scrutiny, 1951
We wish to thank the following educators who helped us focus our Book Notes series to meet student needs and critiqued our manuscripts to provide quality materials.
Sandra Dunn, English Teacher
Lawrence J. Epstein, Associate Professor of English
Leonard Gardner, Lecturer, English Department
Beverly A. Haley, Member, Advisory Committee
Elaine C. Johnson, English Teacher
Marvin J. LaHood, Professor of English
Robert Lecker, Associate Professor of English
David E. Manly, Professor of Educational Studies
Bruce Miller, Associate Professor of Education
Frank O'Hare, Professor of English and Director of Writing
Faith Z. Schullstrom, Member of Executive Committee
Mattie C. Williams, Director, Bureau of Language Arts