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Travis, L. (1968). D. H. Lawrence: The Blood-Conscious Artist. Am. Imago, 25(2):163-190.

(1968). American Imago, 25(2):163-190

D. H. Lawrence: The Blood-Conscious Artist

Leigh Travis

When Paul Morel tears himself away from his yearnings to follow his mother into death and walks towards the “faintly glowing town” at the end of Sons and Lovers, his childhood has ended, and through his fictional successors a life-long series of quests has begun: for a woman who will not try to “put him in her pocket,” for a true male friend, for a Utopian society, and for a naturalistic religion. In the later works, Paul Morel is metamorphosed, as it were, into Rupert Birkin, Aaron Sisson, Lovat Somers, Don Ramon, Don Cipriano and “the man who died”—all of whom are driven and drawn by approximately the same complex of warring impulses that agonized Paul Morel. In Lawrence's psychological terminology, they are driven away from a form of “mind-consciousness” and drawn towards a form of “blood-consciousness,” just as Paul was driven from the spiritual Miriam and drawn into the embrace of Clara Dawes.

All of us, Lawrence wrote in Studies in Classic American Literature, are conscious in both ways and—because the two kinds of consciousness are radically incompatible—are doomed to suffer an inner psychic war throughout our lives: “That is our cross.” Almost without exception, it is the cross his questing characters bear, and in a more general sense, it is the cross his fiction bears as a whole. His dualistic vision of human psychology left him little room to make the complex analyses of personality that are the hallmark of Henry James, or to create the variety of lovable and not-so-lovable characters for which Dickens is cherished.

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