Lawrence’s Conception of the Novel

  • Allan Ingram
Part of the The Language of Literature book series (LALI)


Mary is Mary Cannan, and her novel, as Lawrence describes it, with its basis in self-regard, its idealised characters, and its blend of hygiene and voyeurism, is exactly the kind of poisonous creature on which he would wish to set his foot. Emotional dishonesty and sexual wish fulfilment are two human failings against which his own fiction is particularly directed, especially in the period after his elopement with Frieda. What is particularly effective in this letter is the way that Mary is developed through a mixture of revealing action (the bobbing of the hair, the parodic summary of her novel) and violent authorial interpretation, which is increasingly Lawrence’s method of characterisation after Sons and Lovers. Mary, in her crippling vanity and in Lawrence’s attitude towards her as typifying ‘sexual conceit’, is as striking a creation as Hermione Roddice, or Mrs Witt in St Mawr.


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  1. 2.
    John Worthen, D.H. Lawrence and the Idea of the Novel (London: Macmillan, 1979), p. 79.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Sagar, Life Into Art, p. 137, citing Lawrence’s Fantasia of the Unconscious and Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), p. 15.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Allan Ingram 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan Ingram
    • 1
  1. 1.Newcastle upon Tyne PolytechnicUK

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