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Liminality: departing from sexual choices

Transgression in The Fox

Jacqueline Gouirand-Rousselon
p. 101-113


D.H. Lawrence réécrit The Fox en 1922, après avoir ajouté les deux rêves de March, la mort du renard et celle de Banford, à une version plus courte et différente, publiée dans un magazine en 1919. The Fox, l’une des nouvelles les plus louées, a donné lieu à des interprétations diverses et à des polémiques sans fin, dues essentiellement à la transgression extrême, celle de la loi biblique, le meurtre d’un être humain. L’histoire nous offre d’autres formes de transgressions, certaines nécessaires, car elles constituent le socle de la vision lawrencienne.
Dans sa fiction, Lawrence aspire avant tout à recréer un univers pré-rationnel, à nous faire découvrir les abîmes de la vie, instinctive et émotive, en restaurant en l’homme l’intégrité du primitif. La sexualité, en déclin dans notre culture, ne peut être sacralisée qu’à l’intérieur d’un univers rendu au sacré où la personnalité se réintègre, le rituel initiatique joue alors un rôle majeur. Henry est le shaman qui est le médiateur à une conversion indispensable pour March, personnage ambigu que la fixation sur son amie Banford empêche de s’ouvrir au désir. Après le renard qui déclenche chez March la transgression érotique nécessaire à cette conversion, c’est Henry, identifié à son fétiche, qui, après l’avoir tué, le remplace dans la vie sexuelle et psychique de March. Cette transgression, promesse de transfiguration et d’une forme de salut pour le couple Henry/March, ne remplit pas son rôle. Si Eros rode dans The Fox, du phallique, il ne reste que la parade.
Les constantes oscillations de Banford à Henry, les changements d’attitude de March provoquent l’intrusion de la haine dans le « triangle ». La violence portée à son apogée et une bataille subtile de volontés dans cette communauté, broyeuse d’identités où personne, finalement, ne domine, créent un climat subversif, excluant tout compromis. Henry trouvera l’énergie nécessaire pour se débarrasser de l’obstacle : Banford, qui se place sur le lieu même de son exécution. Henry et March sont condamnés à vivre de l’agonie de leurs « affects » malgré la faible lueur d’espoir perçue dans la fin ouverte de la nouvelle.

Entrées d’index

Studied authors :

David Herbert Lawrence

Texte intégral

1D. H. Lawrence had just finished Psychoanalysis of the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious and rewritten a number of short stories when he “put a long tail” to The Fox, adding the two dreams, the killing of the fox and of Banford. These changes took place between December 1921 and February 1922. To The Fox and The Ladybird, The Captain’s Doll was added, the three novellas being collected in one book published in 1923. Their aesthetic quality may have been one of the reasons for publishing them in one volume. “So modern, so new, a new manner,” Lawrence wrote to Seltzer. The Fox is the longer and different version of a shorter tale written in November 1918 at Hermitage (Berkshire) and cut for magazine publication in The Dial (1919). At the end of the first version of the novella, Henry held both women in his power after his marriage to March.

2In spite of the obvious differences in tone, atmosphere and social classes between these tales, the similarities are striking. All three are illustrations of what Lawrence called “Adventure in consciousness,” a double process of individuation and union with the source of all life, an adventure which will be doomed if the individual evolves only in the way of separation and isolation instead of cultivating the true consciousness, that of the deep and vital instincts. In Lawrence’s view, when the repressed has been incorporated into consciousness, the life-giving power of the phallus, which gives rise to the illumination of the “I” by the dark sun of the unconscious, must be restored. The function of the shaman is to restore that life-giving power of the phallus, the vital flow between the two separated poles of the woman’s psyche. The virile privilege assigned to shamanistic powers is almost universal. Henry (The Fox) as well as Count Dionys (The Ladybird) are intruders who bring about necessary disorder. They belong to another sphere of reality that Bataille defines as “the heterogeneous” and transgress the other order “the homogeneous.” Sexual transgression is therefore a means of empowerment according to Bataille’s definition of eroticism that he placed in the “heterogeneous” sphere. Eroticism is a force that takes us violently away from the world of well-organized objects and well-defined objectives, from the world of projects and of reason, allowing us to discover joy and pain much stronger than those experienced in day-to-day reality. Therefore, eroticism understood as a form of transgression unsettles the status quo. Each story of the collection is built on the repetition of a triangle, consisting of a woman who is spiritually and sexually hibernating, so to speak, and two other characters, one standing for civilization and the social order (Banford in The Fox) and the other, the guide or shaman, who is associated with a fetish. He initiates the quest for a sacred reality, unknown and inaccessible to reason, even hostile to reason. The relationship between the so-called shaman and the fetish is ambiguous, particularly in Henry’s case, since his complete identification with the fox gives the animal the status of a double fetish, which partly accounts for its being killed. In both cases – whether the thimble with a beetle in green stone at the top (The Ladybird) or the fox is concerned – the fetishes must be disposed of before the man can intervene. March, the central character of The Fox, is alienated in so far as her fixation on Banford prevents her from opening herself to desire, whose voice rises above the imposed and accepted blindness of convention. She waits for an awakening, a promise of fulfilment, a rebirth. D. H. Lawrence’s reflections when he was creating his hibernating heroines are encapsulated in his essay Fantasia of the Unconscious:

We either love too much or impose our will too much, we are too spiritual or too sensual. This is not and cannot be any actual norm of human conduct. All depends, first, on the unknown inward need within the very nuclear centres of the individual himself, and secondly on his circumstances. (42, emphasis added)

3The Fox is no virgin land to explore. Many interpretations of the text have been provided, from the most popular to the most revisionist ones. The attacks on this war novella have been as numerous as the critics’ commentaries and revaluations over the years. As will be shown, the murder of Banford, the utmost transgression – that of the biblical law “Thou shalt not kill” – probably explains why it is the only tale which has given rise to such literary controversy. At the same time, The Fox remains one of Lawrence’s finest stories because of the reader’s access to the innermost emotions and intensity of the experience although it is difficult to follow Lawrence’s celebrated piece of advice: “Don’t trust the artist, trust the tale.” The analysis of both the sexual and biblical transgressions as means to free the other might be a capital approach to the novella.

4In his fiction, Lawrence primarily aims at recreating a pre-rational universe. In this respect, The Fox is an interesting example to consider. What he proposes is the restoration of balance between the sexes through reassertion of the male principle through which, according to him, flows the driving power of the life force, that most of the critics “have read as a call for male domination in sexual relationships” (Renner 265). In The Fox, as in other stories, what is at stake is the withering of sexuality in our culture, and Lawrence is bent on searching for the causes of this crisis and trying to find solutions via his fiction.

  • 1 The original reads : “La sexualité qui n’est rédimée que si elle est sacralisée et qui ne peut l’êt (...)

5The sense of the sacred is always vivid and intense with regard to what concerns sexuality. In Mayoux’s terms, “sexuality is only redeemed if it is sacralised and it can only be so in a universe delivered to the sacred, in which personality is reintegrated.”1 According to Lawrence’s understanding of psychoanalysis, Freud associates sexuality and the sacred. Furthermore only transgression can be a means to have access to the sacred as Foucault asserts:

Profanation in a world which no longer recognizes any positive meaning in the sacred, is this not more or less what we may call transgression? In that zone which our culture affords for our gestures and speech, transgression prescribes not only the sole manner of discovering the sacred in its unmediated substance, but also a way of recomposing its empty form, its absence through which it becomes all the more scintillating. (30)

6Lawrence firmly believed that in our civilization, the spontaneous consciousness of the universe is destroyed. A civilization whose main function is a deep malaise entailing the malaise of the individual confronted with a fundamental difficulty: that of accepting the other in his or her difference. The Fox is a striking illustration of this. In their quest – conscious or unconscious – for a fecund union, the main actors of this story only face failure, suffering and death. The imposition of power (male or female), the workings of the will, the driving force of eroticism and subversion generate hells of the characters’ own making.

7Lawrence was certainly aware of the role women might play during the war but his realization of this fact did not prevent him from feeling that women had pursued their independence too far (Letters 2: 425). When Henry comes back to the farm, which should have been his at the end of the war (it used to be his grandfather’s), the place is occupied by two women, a couple with homosexual characteristics. He exclaims, “I thought my grandfather still lived here. I wonder if he is dead?” (The Fox 14). Henry seems to be here to take his revenge on independent women. Shortly after his arrival, he observes “There wants a man about the place,” which provokes Banford’s immediate reaction: “Take care what you say […] We consider ourselves quite efficient” (The Fox 17). Let us note the ambiguity of Henry’s declaration. He does not only allude to the control of the farm, but to the control of the sexual arena. It is obvious that the male rival sets in motion the main action of the story.

8Banford runs the farm with March, her companion. She has an economic hold on March since she provided the money to buy the farm. Money is power and power is potency. Banford’s appropriation of the farm, which Henry should have inherited, had already heralded her appropriation of March. The unnatural couple March constitutes with Banford amounts to a break in the symbolic process since the girls have introduced sexual non-difference in the symbolic chain – it is a form of transgression of social norms. Indeed, unconsciously, Banford has created a closed world, completely isolated from the larger world of contemporary England. This utopian world is cut off from normal exchanges between men; this is a world in which money has lost its ordinary dimension of circulation and exchange. Money only retains the other dimension, that of an entity, of a treasure which helps the girls to survive (“They were living on their losses” 9). The degrading effect of Banford’s power parallels the decrease in the girls’ income. Their relationship – they probably came together out of pressing emotional needs – is thus altered. “They were apt to become a little irritable with one another, tired by one another” (9).

  • 2 See Edmund Bergler’s thesis The Basic Neurosis: Oral Regression and Psychic Masochism.
  • 3 This bird is hermaphrodite at a symbolic level, see Gaston Bachelard, L’Eau et les rêves.

9March has chosen to be “the man about the place,” taking men’s responsibilities and dressing like a man most of the time. Banford is not only hemmed in by the fences and hedges of her property but by manners and conformity. She is the vestal taking care of their home, sticking to the woman’s role. She hates nature, she is afraid of intruders, tramps, “someone who could come prowling around” (12). At the beginning, she welcomes Henry but very soon resents the boy’s lower-class intrusion. One of them plays the part of the husband, the other that of the wife, probably an ambiguous “Oedipal camouflage” accounting for the oral masochism at work in the story.2 What is important as far as the couple is concerned is that difference is left out, the nature of their relationship being based on fusion which entails stagnation. Stagnation prevails in the girls’ world (see the name of the village pub: “The Swan”).3 An atmosphere of non-life pervades the farm: sterility prevails among the animals (the fowls suffered from strange illnesses and refused to lay eggs, the heifer could not give birth to her first calf, the fox was a demon). Since the war, the fox was threatening their enterprises and deeply disturbing their daily lives, a dangerous intruder that they had to get rid of. The Manichean frame presented by Lawrence is set up when the fox intrudes into their world.

10Lawrence undoubtedly rediscovers certain mythologies in The Fox and by introducing the fox as a fetish or totem he restores vibrant animism. He is persuaded that “the primary way to get vitality in our existence is to absorb it from living creatures lower than ourselves” (Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine 359). The fox is pernicious and demonic (he is a transgressor in the way that “transgression is an action which involves the limit, that narrow zone of a line where it displays the flash of its passage,” Foucault 34). Foucault’s definition helps posit the fox as a fetish, a means to cross the line, to achieve a liminal position. Indeed, he threatens the girls’ undertakings; they try to get rid of the animal but the task is not easy. His function is subversive insofar as he threatens order but as this apparent order amounts to disorder, he is the vital link between the world of appearances and the world of “pristine consciousness,” curious, intelligent, free, beautiful, instinctive, associated with mysterious animal life; he careers with “a strange and fiery brush” in a mythic space (the wood). His organic relation to the cosmos makes him a messenger of mysteries. Moreover, he can be considered as an unconscious sex totem and probably a depository for man’s (or woman’s) external soul. In Chinese tales or legends, the role of the fox is to serve as a mirror to men’s thoughts, to reveal their most secret desires and to make them conscious of the responsibility of their actions, a second consciousness in a way (see Frazer). The fox becomes the totem animal for March, despite her pursuing him as a hunter.

11March is the most ambiguous character in the story. Her ambiguity is hinted at, at the very beginning: she looks like a man but her face is “not a man’s face” (The Fox 8), she wears a cap but her hair is pushed under her cap; a physical ambivalence paralleled by an ambivalence of feelings playing a significant role in the dramatisation of the story. The symbolic meaning of her name (“March” in the sense of borderland) accounts for her ever being on the border between dream and reality, consciousness and absence of consciousness. Her state is revealed by phrases such as “so odd and absent in herself,” “half-watching, half musing. It was a constant state” (10) but most particularly, “It was a question whether she was there actually present or not.” Lawrence hints at her dissatisfaction, but at the same time, he suggests some obscurity inherent in her personality, her often being in the shade, “in a recess.” Her unconscious desire to remain “locked up” is revealed by her physiognomy: “Her mouth rather screwed up” (10), “she primmed up her mouth tighter and tighter” (15). She is an interesting example of resistance to the real world. Her crossed legs are a sign of her refusal of sex. Both women fear the life-force and recoil from the facts of life. Not only are intruders feared but all intrusion is outrage.

  • 4 Letter to Ottoline Morrell, December 8th 1915. “Let your will lapse back into your unconscious self (...)
  • 5 D.H. Lawrence, “We Need one another,” Phoenix 191.

12March’s indulgence in dreams reveals to what extent she experiences inner division. Indeed, she has to take refuge in a corner to escape temporarily from the inner turmoil she experiences otherwise. The text reads: “Hidden in the shadow of the corner she need not anymore be divided in herself, trying to keep up two planes of consciousness” (18). And when she goes to the woods, “it was a question whether she was there, actually conscious, present or not” (10). March’s inner division results in alienation. When she ventures into the mythic space of the wood, she is likely to meet the man of the woods, but she encounters the fox instead. Her first meeting with the fox becomes an inverted hunt. Before the encounter she is described as falling into a kind of daydream: “her inner mind took no notice of what she saw […] she was always lapsing into this odd rapt state” (10). In this mythic space, man or woman can “lapse back into darkness and unknowing.”4 This is how March feels when she pursues the fox. Her rational consciousness is suspended. She becomes “a strange soft vibration on the air, going forth unknown and unconscious, seeking a vibration of response.”5 When she is ready for the hunt, twilight surrounds her. She is herself in this twilight state “offered unwittingly to the rape that will surprise [her]” (Barthes 190): “She lowered her eyes and suddenly saw the fox. He was looking up at her. His chin pressed down, and his eyes were looking up. And he knew her. She was spell-bound” (The Fox 10).

  • 6 My translation. The original reads, “L’évènement de la ‘rencontre’ ressortit toujours peu ou prou à (...)

13The biblical meaning of knew establishes the knowledge as sexual. The meeting is essential for March to discover rebirth thanks to an alternative form of sexuality, or as Vasse puts it, “The event of the encounter always brings more or less the advent of the ‘subject’ of which the carnal bodily birth is a metaphor.”6

14The discovery of the incarnate carnal self should then be achieved, for “the body locates a truth forever perverted by mind and culture” (Pease 139). The repetition of “knew” (The Fox 16) in the episode cannot be overlooked: “She knew he knew her.” An actual revelation, a possession of which she is not aware at once, takes place “her soul failed her […] She struggled, confusedly she came to herself.” It is the intrusion of fantasy in the totally new experience invading her life. When the fox looks at her, she feels herself exposed; her struggle corresponds to “her sexuality straining to emerge from latency into expression” (Renner 252).

15March, who is closed to speech, will be penetrated by the demonic: “She was possessed by him […] she felt him invisibly master her spirit” (The Fox 11). In the fiery sunset of August, she has heard the call in the darkness and has experienced the inner vision of the fox which, once she has met him, triggers a hypnotic state, a kind of trance that “makes her heart beat to the fox, the fox” (11). Before the arrival of the actual male, Henry, March is attracted to the wood, unconsciously looking for the fox. Months later her female sympathy is revealed in her eyes: “so, she went with her great startled eyes glowing” (11). At the same time she is disturbed, feeling “discomfort and gloom in all her physique” (12). The encounter with the fox has given birth to her awareness of male sexuality even though she becomes aware of it in a deep primal sense. She becomes prey to a driving force, both dangerous and indispensable, as she has the feeling she is losing balance and sinking into that unknown, that surprising and fascinating state of erotic transgression. The minute Henry intrudes into the girl’s claustrophobic world, March “sat, staring at the fire” (13). All the signs of the expectancy of the birth of desire are present in the story as the erotic atmosphere builds up.

16Henry appears at night and he is totally identified with the fox by March. “But to March he was the fox” (14). The earlier influence of the fox on March is immediately re-awakened “[…] already under the influence of his soft modulated voice, March stared at him spell-bound.” Importantly, Henry’s voice is first mentioned as attracting March, the voice being a paramount element of the sex-drive and described as an erogenous zone by Lacan. From now on, on the conscious level as well as on the unconscious, the images of the fox and the intruder coincide. (“Soft” connected with March’s sensations becomes a key word in the text.)

17The association of the two (man and animal) in March’s unconscious is particularly important in March’s first dream. The text reads:

That night March dreamed vividly. She dreamed she heard a singing outside […] suddenly she knew it was the fox singing. […] He seemed near, and she wanted to touch him. She stretched out her hand, but suddenly he bit her wrist, and at the same instant, as she drew back, the fox, turning round to bound away, whisked his brush across her face, and it seemed his brush was on fire, for it seared and burned her mouth with a great pain. She awoke with the pain of it, and lay trembling as if she were really seared. (20)

  • 7 In Fantasia of the Unconscious, Lawrence follows Freud when he claims that dreams must be read back (...)

18This is a typical Freudian dream, condensing the figures of the fox and Henry, the threat, embodied by both, and the possible object of desire. This dream is a disguised enactment of the sexual intercourse, the fox’s tail being phallic and the female mouth providing a metaphor for woman’s sex organ. The pain March feels in the dream is a displacement for the pleasure she expects to discover but cannot confess.7

19March later tries to avoid the “taunting knowing sharp leap out of [Henry’s] eyes,” those keen eyes of his which seem to incorporate the very substance of her being, but she can’t avoid the caress of his voice which not only relaxes but generates jouissance: “She felt for a minute that she was lost—lost—lost. The word seemed to rock in her as if she were dying […] A swoon went over her as [Henry] concluded […] She seemed to be in his power” (25, emphasis added). Henry is the agent chosen by Lawrence who gradually achieves the virility required to dominate March. At the beginning he is called “the boy” or “youth” and is often compared to a puppy or a cub in quest of a home rather than a woman, but he soon becomes conscious of his male destiny: “It was a kind of darkness he knew he would enter finally” (53). The relationship predator/prey is established from the start; indeed Henry is described as “[a] huntsman in spirit” (24). Henry feels that he will have to catch her “as you catch a deer or a woodcock” (23). Is the idea of Henry’s omnipotence derived from Lawrence’s reading of James Frazer, especially the conception of the primitive hunter who mimes his action in his imagination that Lawrence staged when Henry kills the fox totem, conquers March’s soul and makes her submit to his will?

  • 8 For another illustration of polarized attraction see Lawrence’s poem “Love on the farm.” (Complete (...)

20March’s heterosexual nature slumbering beneath the lesbian surface is released from its entombment by the insistent force of his desire for her. Yet March’s senses are actually aroused when she is confronted with the dead fox. The mystery of the other sex suddenly emerges (“incomprehensible,” “out of her range,” “wonderful”). Here are shown the workings of the unthinkable desires likened to “the great cosmic principle” of equilibrium, manifest between killer and killed, male and female, light and dark expounded on in Fantasia of the Unconscious.8 Sexual connotations make it clear that she unconsciously faces (and desires) penetration, a major sensual experience to which she has been given full emotional response, the revelation of radical otherness. March, who has gradually accepted the reality of her sex drives, refuses to bring them to light to exteriorise them, to provide them with a meaning, hence the abundant display of metaphors in the text. The novella seems to be built on a real cult of images; in fact, images tend to the economy of meaning, whereas words produce it, since in Stoltzfus’s terms, “Desire implicates the subject but it is language that names him” (44). That is why March, Henry and Banford do not speak at all, speak but little or improperly. That is why they fail to express their feelings.

21Indeed, in spite of their gradual attraction and March’s adherence to the newly-discovered universe represented by Henry, both fail to express their inner turmoil as the conflict is intensified in the triangle, for Banford embarks on a battle of wills with Henry. It takes time for Banford to realize the danger of Henry’s presence because she is not able to detect the instinctive force of the male in him. It becomes impossible for March not to transgress the values established by Banford whose calls to order addressed to March become more and more numerous. When Henry tries to kiss March’s face, “Banford’s voice was heard calling fretfully, crossly from upstairs” (33). After the revelation of radical otherness in front of the dead fox, March withdraws again, under Banford’s influence. March’s constant oscillations from Banford to Henry and her change of attitude provoke the intrusion of hatred into “the triangle.” Violence is inevitably brought into play and carried to its climax. A subtle battle of wills takes place in the invisible. All compromise is excluded in the subversive climate created by the protagonists’ fear, lack of comprehension and intolerance.

22When Henry, deeply frustrated by Banford’s insulting words and arguments against him (“‘I shouldn't expect you would [understand],’ said Banford, with that straying, mild tone of remoteness which made her words even more insulting” 35), is rejected from “the triangle,” some force pushes him out of the house. His killing the fox puts an end to a sort of fascination, a necessary catharsis in the dramatic conflict he is subjected to. Sacrificing the fox prevents Banford from being sacrificed at this stage of the story.

23The recognition of the obstacle generates the necessary energy required to get rid of it. Henry is soon determined “to get the thorn out of his life” (59). The whole episode of the tree-felling is the episode of Banford’s death. She dies because she refuses to hear Henry’s warning, placing herself at the very place of her execution. She refuses to move because she cannot conceive that the phallus-tree might touch her. When she is given the alternative of speech, she answers by means of denial and derision: “‘Who, me, mind myself?’ she cried, her father’s jeering tone in her voice” (65). This tree is meant by Lawrence to be phallic in the common sense of the term. Though Henry would like her to disappear, Banford’s death is not, in fact, related to him but to the tree. It is not a personal force but an impersonal force which brings about her destruction.

“Do you think you might hit me […]”
“No, it’s just possible the tree might […]” (65)
“I am afraid it’s killed her.” (66)

24The male triumphs over the two females, one being destroyed, the other mastered. Henry has won. He is no longer obsessed by Banford’s possessive domination. It seems as if a “thorn was drawn out of his bowels” (66). This is what a “macho” reading of the scene might suggest. The imaginary phallus seems to be “everlasting.” Yet, the utmost transgression has taken place, that of taking a life. Henry has proved that he hunts as a killer, killing Banford with the same force of will that he exhibited with the fox, the two living creatures standing in his way. The murder enables him to transgress March’s female to female relationship with Banford and to establish a male to female one.

25Henry wants to marry March, but for the amorous Henry, the discourse of the man in rut is substituted. Henry wants to dominate March, “to veil her woman’s spirits as Orientals veil the woman’s face” (69). In spite of their loving each other, Henry and March have to fight the war of the invisible line between union and division in their selves, whose singleness can only blossom when disparities are accepted.

26The strain they experience deprives them of the opportunity to reach salvation. They are faced with “the awful mistake of happiness.” In Lawrence’s vision, as is revealed in most of his fiction, sexual transgression is often necessary because it leads to transfiguration for the couple (Lady Chatterley’s Lover, among other novels, is a striking example). The couple formed by March and Henry, in spite of a glimmer of hope manifested at the end of the story, fails to reach transfiguration. Doubt is cast in the last lines of the text: “And her eyelids drooped with the slow motion, sleep weighing them unconscious. But she pulled them open again to say: ‘yes I may’” answering Henry’s: “you’ll feel better once we get over the seas.” (71). Their fulfilment is delayed because they are under influence, dominated by all sorts of taboos which urge them to lavish on their surroundings some sectarianism as severe as the intolerance they inflict on themselves. Their difficulty to verbalize is another pitfall on their road to happiness as there is no love that goes without speech. The numerous repetitions of negative terms (“nothingness,” “a goal […] there was none,” “the failure was almost catastrophic,” “failure became a little more ghastly,” “bad to worse,” “the worse the failure,” “the horrible abyss of nothingness, “the bottomless pit” 68-69) present in the coda are not only a means for Lawrence to impregnate the reader with his critique of the spiritual ideal woman which makes it difficult for her to submit to man’s will. They become incantatory to express March’s reaching for happiness and her failure to achieve it since she confronts an abyss, a bottomless pit. What is at stake is her reaching for truth, the quest for the truth of the speaking subject. Thus the quest for her “true” self located within the unconscious sexual body is at the core of the story.


Bachelard, Gaston. L’eau et les rêves. Paris: Joseph Corti, 1942. Print.

Barthes, Roland. A Lover’s Discourse : Fragments. Trans. Richard Howard. London : Vintage, 2002. Print.

Bataille, George. “Erotisme.” Oeuvres Complètes. Vol. 10. Paris: Gallimard, 1987. Print.

Bergler, Edmund. The Basic Neurosis: Oral Regression and Psychic Masochism. New York: Greene and Straton, 1949. Print.

Foucault, Michel. Language, Counter-memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. Ed. Donald F. Bouchard. New York: Cornel University Press, 1977. Print.

Frazer, James. Totemism and Exogamy. Harmonsworth: Penguin, 1967. Print.

Lawrence, D.H. Complete Poems. Eds Vivian de Sola Pinto and F. Warren Roberts. Harmonsworth: Penguin, 1964. Print.

---. Fantasia of the Unconscious. London: Heinemann 1923. Print.

---. The Fox, The Captain’s Doll, The Ladybird. 1922. Ed. Dieter Mehl. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Print.

---. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Volume II, June 1913 – October 1916. Eds. George J. Zytaruk and James T. Boulton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981. Print.

---. Phoenix. London: Heinemann, 1936. Print.

---. Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays. Ed. Michael Herbert. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Print.

Mayoux, Jean Jacques. Préface. D. H. Lawrence : Poèmes. Paris: Aubier, 1976. Print.

Pease, Allison. Modernism, Mass culture and the Aesthetics of Obscenity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.

Renner, Stanley. “Sexuality and the unconscious: Psychosexual drama and conflict in The Fox.” D.H. Lawrence Review 21.3 (Fall 1989): 245-273. Print.

Stoltzfus, Ben. Lacan and Literature: Purloined Texts. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996. Print.

Vasse, Denis. La chair envisagée. Paris: Seuil, Séries/Psychanalyse, 1988. Print.


1 The original reads : “La sexualité qui n’est rédimée que si elle est sacralisée et qui ne peut l’être qu’à l’intérieur d’un univers rendu au sacré où la personnalité se réintègre” (Mayoux 38).

2 See Edmund Bergler’s thesis The Basic Neurosis: Oral Regression and Psychic Masochism.

3 This bird is hermaphrodite at a symbolic level, see Gaston Bachelard, L’Eau et les rêves.

4 Letter to Ottoline Morrell, December 8th 1915. “Let your will lapse back into your unconscious self, so you move in a sleep, and in darkness, without sight or understanding […] to lapse back into darkness and unknowing. There must be deep winter before there can be spring.”

5 D.H. Lawrence, “We Need one another,” Phoenix 191.

6 My translation. The original reads, “L’évènement de la ‘rencontre’ ressortit toujours peu ou prou à l’avènement du sujet, dont la naissance charnelle est la métaphore” (Vasse 69).

7 In Fantasia of the Unconscious, Lawrence follows Freud when he claims that dreams must be read backwards.

8 For another illustration of polarized attraction see Lawrence’s poem “Love on the farm.” (Complete Poems 42-43).

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Jacqueline Gouirand-Rousselon, « Transgression in The Fox », Journal of the Short Story in English [En ligne], 68 | Spring 2017, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2019, consulté le 21 août 2019. URL :


Jacqueline Gouirand-Rousselon

Jacqueline Gouirand-Rousselon is honorary senior lecturer at the University of Lyon II. Besides her contribution of more than fifty articles to newspapers, periodicals and collective works on D. H. Lawrence, Charles Dickens, William Golding, Charlotte Brontë and Jean Rhys, she has translated The Trespasser (Editions Julliard, 1988) and The Rainbow (Editions Autrement, 2002) into French. She is also the author of a biography of Frieda Lawrence entitled Frieda Von Richthofen, D.H. Lawrence’s Muse (Autrement, 1988) written in French. Jacqueline Gouirand-Rousselon also organized the celebration of Lawrence’s centenary in Lyon from January 15th to February 14th 1986, providing the public with lectures, film projections and an exhibition of some of Lawrence’s manuscripts and original paintings lent by Nottingham University.

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