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The development of D.H. Lawrence’s philosophy of the unconscious: 1913-1922

Thornham, Susan (1974) The development of D.H. Lawrence’s philosophy of the unconscious: 1913-1922. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The term ‘philosophy' is Lawrence's own, used, hesitatingly, to refer to his expository essays. Critics have preferred other terms, notably 'doctrine', on the grounds that Lawrence's vision cannot lay claim to the rigour of philosophy. 'Doctrine', however, gives a misleading impression of rigidity to a body of work essentially exploratory and if philosophy is, in Whitehead's words, 'the critic of abstractions', then Lawrence's purpose, if not his method, can pretend to the definition. In a series of essays beginning in 1913 and ending properly with the Fantasia of the Unconscious of 1921, Lawrence sought to develop his philosophy. Art and philosophy he saw as parallel supreme expressions of 'man's conscious understanding' and he sought to express both and ultimately to unite the two. This thesis traces this development through the major essays of the years 1913 to 1921, adding a final discussion of the changes of the 1920s, as expressed now in both essays and fiction. It shows Lawrence, a 'passionately religious man' in a post-religious age, seeking to develop a philosophy in which life is the prime mover, the religious source, and the individual 'the beginning of life'. The religion which he sought to establish must also be a psychology; the psychology which he constructed had the significance of a faith. It shows him seeking to solve the problems inherent in such a standpoint. Finally, it shows him seeking to develop his views against the pressure of another major twentieth-century attempt to deal with man in a post-religious age: that of Freud. The themes were the same; the treatment opposite. Lawrence, at first attracted and stimulated by psychoanalysis, was finally moved to refutation, and the best of his philosophical essays were conceived as a direct answer to Freud.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Letters
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:1974
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:21

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