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Title: “Volcanic Evidence” in D. H. Lawrence’s Letters and Works
Authors: Bricout, Shirley
Keywords: modernism
spirit of place
Issue Date: Feb-2021
Publisher: Registrar, Vidyasagar University, Midnapore, Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal, India, 721102
Series/Report no.: Journal of the Department of English;Vol. 14
Abstract: This article proposes to examine how volcanoes fired D. H. Lawrence’s imagination throughout his works and letters. As he travelled the globe, the majesty and power of volcanoes inspired the writer beautiful picturesque descriptions of landscapes, however these always blend with allusions to a more primitive world. References to Greco-Roman mythology, as in Sea and Sardinia, express in gendered terms the author’s ambivalent relationship to volcanoes and the cultures and places associated with them. In Sea and Sardinia, these narrative choices infuse the written farewell to Etna with words of Greek origin, in such a way that the effect of the magnetism of the volcano is felt on Lawrence’s language too. Moreover, Lawrence’s language is, like molten lava, maintained in ebullient flux as varying shades of meaning turn the literal volcanic features into metaphors to express moods, as in the poem “Volcanic Eruption” devoted to a woman, and to depict conflicts, as in Kangaroo and The Plumed Serpent. Indeed, making ample use of Nietzsche’s metaphor of “eruption”, Lawrence extends his idea of the “spirit of place” to volcanoes whose paradigms provide imagery to convey his own views on Western civilization. For instance, the poem “Peace”, written in Sicily in 1920, explores in volcanic terms the effervescent passions stirring within men and society. It is nevertheless in Kangaroo that the narrative itself is fragmented when newspaper cuttings about volcanoes are inserted with other news items to convey the character’s swaying moods and hesitations. Thus, in Lawrence’s oeuvre, volcanoes and lava can be said to epitomize Modernist experimental writing through the motifs of expulsion, fragmentation and flux.
ISSN: 0973-3671
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Department of English - Vol 14 [2021]

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