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Pierloot, R.A. (2000). D.H. Lawrence and the Freudian Oedipus complex. Free Associations, 8(1):100-119.

(2000). Free Associations, 8(1):100-119

D.H. Lawrence and the Freudian Oedipus complex

Roland A. Pierloot


We Find Several Indications that, in his twenties and thirties, D.H. Lawrence was haunted by the Oedipus myth. In a letter of December 3, 1910 he wrote to the poet Rachel Taylor: I was born hating my father: as early as ever I can remember, I shivered with horror when he touched me. He was very bad before I was born. This has been a kind of bond between me and my mother. We have loved each other, almost with a husband and wife love, as well as filial and maternal (Letters, I, p. 190). His wife, Frieda von Richthofen, relates their first meeting in 1912: We talked about Oedipus and understanding leaped through our words (F. Lawrence, 1934, p. 4). In 1911 he started writing his autobiographic novel Sons and Lovers, completed in 1913. In a letter of November 19, 1912 to Edward Garnett, he wrote about his novel: The son loves the mother all the sons hate and are jealous of the father It's the tragedy of thousands of young men in England (Letters, I, p. 477) and in a “Preface” of January 1913, not meant for publication, he presented a philosophic discussion on the role of men and women, in which he also mentions the old son-lover Oedipus.

However although, in a letter of November 28, 1916 to Barbara Low, he declared: The longer I live the less I like psychoanalysis (Letters III, p. 42), Lawrence drew up his own metapsychology in Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious (1922) and Fantasia of the Unconscious (1922).

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