Voli Me Tangere: Touch and Tenderness in the Lady Chatterley Novels


Cover of 1961 edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Cover of 1961 edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover may be most infamous for the sexual scandal it provoked, but his last novel also reflects Lawrence’s modernist approach to the representation of character. Annabel Banks (Falmouth University) delves into Lawrence’s consciousness in her essay in the latest issue of Postgraduate English.

By 1914 Lawrence had set out his aim to find a new way of delineating character: ‘You mustn’t look in my novel for the old stable ego of the character. There is another ego, according to whose action the individual is unrecognisable’. He believed he had identified a truth the nineteenth-century view of character had overlooked, which required ‘a deeper sense than any we’ve been used to exercise’. This theory of  ‘blood consciousness’ (which he later formulated into his concept of bodily cognition or ‘biological psyche’ in  Fantasia and the Unconscious) informs his belief that modern man must transcend the split between the body and the mind, and live from both, wholly and ‘dynamically’. This article argues that in traversing the three versions of Lawrence’s last novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a truer model of Lawrence’s doctrine of dynamic consciousness can be uncovered. Through each incarnation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover Lawrence’s purpose is refined; each character and their connections can be read in terms of touch and tenderness, living through the novel in order to reify Lawrence’s great lesson: that touch is an essential element of life.

This article is available to download free in issue 32 of our open access Postgraduate English journal. For more articles from this issue, and the complete archive going back 15 years, find the journal online.

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