Thursday, 20 September 2012

Lorenzo, all is forgiven

Four chapters in, Sons & Lovers is triumphantly passing the iPod test. The tenderness, observation and psychological insight with which Lawrence creates the Morels' world are matchless.  There's real vitality here, the deep vitality that Lawrence worshipped in human relations, not the puffed-up, strained-for vitality that Women in Love bangs on about so tiresomely. So what went wrong? Is it another case of an author seduced by his own publicity (see our earlier post on Hilary Mantel on this subject), of an author writing more books than he has in him, of an author who knows he has death within him flailing about desperately to hold on to life?

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The iPod test

In the course of her travels recently Gert has taken to listening to novels downloaded from the free site LibriVox ( and has discovered that writer's tics and foibles leap out at her as they don't when she is reading, particularly if the book is one she's read more than once, as is the case with Women in Love.  She was reminded at every turn  of How not to write a novel (Mittelmark & Newman).  DHL needs a stern editor to remove all adverbs, restrict adjectives to one per noun, allow only "said" as a dialogue marker and come down heavily on all scenes involving horses or cattle. The scene in which Gudrun performs Dalcroze movements to a herd of surprised cattle made Gert laugh and laugh, as did Hermione's standing-up orgasm as she bashes Birkin on the head with a lapis lazuli paperweight.
Results of a scientific word-count:
1) loins - the runaway winner, followed by
2) queer ( as part of an adjective chain describing facial expressions or tones of voice)
3) swoon, -ed, -ing
4) inchoate

Loins, queer, swoon, inchoate - there you have the DHL project. A friend has also pointed out his fascination with women's stockings, sashes and hats, while the males are all loins.

Gert does, though, remember Sons & Lovers being rather better, and may subject it to the iPod test.

But how would her own work stand up to the test?