The Great Lorenzo

Dh-LawrenceToday is the birthday of D. H. Lawrence (1885). Sadly, he often gets referred to as the author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1930), which is true but reduces him in some minds to a dirty author. It’s true that he did introduce frank treatment of sex into English writing and that he got banned repeatedly, but he was so much more. Above almost anyone, he made Americans rethink their own great writers with Studies in Classic American Literature, wrote about Freud, the unconscious, humans’ estrangement from nature, the book of Revelation (written while he was busy dying of tuberculosis), ancient Etruscan culture, and, yes, sex. Before he died at forty-four, he wrote eleven novels, three chunky volumes of short stories, many novellas, essays on a wide range of topics, and around a thousand pages of poetry. I’m not sure if my shelf of Lawrence is quite five feet, but I don’t own all of him, quite. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the role of horses in his work (hint: they often have to do with sex), something I am glad appears on no library shelves anywhere. Many of his works have been turned into films, the best of which are Women in Love (dir. Ken Russell, with Alan Bates, Oliver Stone, Glenda Jackson, and Jenny Linden and featuring the sexiest wrestling scene in cinema history), The Virgin and the Gypsy, and The Fox. The worst almost all have “Chatterley” in the title.