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A Critique Of D.H.Lawrence's "State Of Funk"

2015 words - 9 pages

Often censured for his emphasis on sex, his stereotyped female characters, and his frequently-blatant sexism, Lawrence remains one of the important figures in British literary modernism. Also a poet and essayist, Lawrence's greatest influence is fiction. His use of topographical detail to evoke a sense of precise locale was especially attractive to American writers like Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson. In addition to his attention to surfaces as a way to delineate place, Lawrence's determination to discover new and vital methods to evoke a clear psychological attitude has profoundly affected the development of prose fiction in this century. Based on The State of Funk, the following will ...view middle of the document...

Here, it is possible to agree with Lawrence that the self-scrutiny of Modern British Literature is tiresome and limited. But Lawrence's innovations in fiction may likewise seem contrived (because this is, after all, the kernel of his accusation) and neo-Romantic in impulse. Indeed, if one isolates some of the most important motifs in Lawrence's fiction, they might seem to combine features shared by his British contemporaries and those more often associated with another, earlier era: the essential isolation of the individual; the notion that conventional lifestyles are restrictive and represent a sort of death by suffocation, as he asks at the beginning of the article: "What is the matter with the English, that they are so scared of everything? They are in a state of blue funk, and they behave like a lot of mice when somebody stamps on the floor. They are terrified about money, finance, about ships, about war, about work, about Labour, about Bolshevism, and funniest of all, the are scared stiff of the printed word."(p.365) This fear collides with the fact that "We are changing, we are in the throes of change, and the change will be a great one. Instinctively, we feel it."(p.365) Likewise, "(he is) convinced that people want to be more decent, more good-hearted than our social system of money and grab allows them to be."(p.368) In Lawrence's works, the issues raised by these quotations, are moulded into the role of the outsider or stranger who represents a polar opposite to the more conventional characters and who acts as a catalyst for the protagonist's realisation of self; the distortion of an idealised love by social restrictions.Part of the reason for this idiosyncratic mixing of contemporary and Victorian elements is his unique views on the world. For him, the world, and the individual living in that world, is comprised of diametric opposites: if one is ever to understand one's essential "self," one must reconcile opposing forces. Lawrence believed that heterosexual intercourse (a kind of union with an opposite) represented a variety of such reconciliation. Therefore, sex between a man and a woman is one way to comprehend selfhood and experience a transcendence of self, albeit temporary: the ideal integration or Unity is possible only if the individual risks fragmentation, since "If we come to think of it, every child that is begotten to be born is a seed of change, a danger to its mother, at childbirth a great pain, and after birth, a new responsibility, a new change. If we feel in a state of funk about it, we should cease having children altogether. If we fall into a state of funk, indeed, the best thing is to have no children."(p.368) The most succinct representation of this type of transcendence in Lawrence's works occurs in the image of the phoenix.Lawrence's complex theories and notions are based on sophisticated readings of contemporary philosophies. In his later works, Lawrence uses exotic, "primitive" settings and situations to...

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