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The Absolute of Interconnectedness in “The Princess,” “Sun,” and Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Fiona Fleming

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1Lawrence is an explorer of metaphysical paradoxes, existential possibilities and imaginative figurations. His dialectical thought process and imagination require him to endlessly question established truths and periodically adopt contradictory theses which may then be discarded or revised. For instance, how are we to reconcile Lawrence’s assertion in a 1923 letter to Murry that “One must be an absolute individual, separate as a seed fallen out of the pod” (L iv 500) and his later complaint to the psychoanalyst Dr Burrow that “it is our being cut off that is our ailment, and out of this ailment everything bad arises”? (L vi 113). His peculiar metaphysical theories rest on the dynamic principle of opposing two notions, whose confrontation or combination produces an altogether new and different concept. Such is the genesis of the Lawrencian concepts of “blood-consciousness” and “spirit of place,” which I shall be examining briefly. It is therefore to be expected that Lawrence’s reflections on the existence and primacy of the “absolute” or of the “relative” should be unsettled, even paradoxical at times, and that his writing should experiment with combinations of the two opposite notions.

2His wariness of fixed principles originates from a reaction to the religious and metaphysical focus which pre-20th century Western thought has placed on the notion of “absolute”: Christianity, as well as Kantian and Hegelian philosophy, have constructed the “absolute” as an ideal state of existence which man should tend towards. Lawrence’s analysis of the nature of deity as “the unexpressed Absolute: eternal, infinite, unchanging,” while man “is essentially a thing of movement and time and change,” (STH 58). Pinpoints both man’s desire for fixity and infinity, which induced him to project it upon the Godhead, and the underlying danger of yearning for the absolute, which is incompatible with human nature. In his review of Eric Gill’s Art Nonsense and Other Essays, Lawrence mocks the proliferation of absolutes that the Catholic Church seemingly forces upon its disciples: “As Catholics, therefore, they will swallow all the old absolutes whole, swallow the pill without looking at it, and call that Faith. The big pill being God, and little pills being terms like Charity and Chastity and Obedience and Humility. Swallow them whole, and you are a good Catholic; lick at them and see what they taste like, and you are a queasy Protestant” (Phoenix 394). He thus suggests that the docile acceptance of absolutes is contrary to common sense and that his own Protestant education encouraged him to interrogate the essence of God and the notion of “absolute.”

3In addition to promulgating unquestioned absolutes, Christianity is accused of luring men into desiring a mode of being which corresponds to the ideal representation of the soul in heaven –isolated and self-sufficient– but which is destructive to earthly life. Lawrence writes in the essay “We Need One Another”:

[Buddhism and Christianity] are the religions of overweening individualism, resulting, of course, in our disastrous modern egoism of the individual […] The soul in heaven is supremely individual, absolved from every relationship except that with the Most High. […] When we talk of heaven we talk, really, of that which we would most like to attain, and most like to be here on earth. The condition of heaven is the condition to be longed for, striven for, now. (Phoenix 188-189)

  • 1 “the unconditioned must not be present in things insofar as we are acquainted with them (insofar as (...)
  • 2 “the clue of man’s own identity is a man’s own self or soul.” Phoenix 601; “The self or soul is sin (...)
  • 3 “A soul is something that forms and fulfils itself in my contact, my living touch with the people [ (...)

4Except in the afterlife, individualism and isolation from other beings are thus harmful to the human condition, in Lawrence’s view, and striving to attain the heavenly state of isolated individualism means chasing after an absolute which cannot be reached and should not be desired, insofar as it has “disastrous” consequences on individuals and societies. In this respect, Lawrence disputes the theory defended by Kant that the absolute –that which exists in itself, independently from all hypothesis or condition– is an ideal which indeed can never be reached or even known, but which nevertheless exists and should be pursued.1 In fact, Lawrence’s disapproval of Kant’s philosophy on the absolute is voiced in the rather terse and unexplained remark: “A man who has never had a vital relationship to any other human being doesn’t really have a soul. We cannot feel that Immanuel Kant ever had a soul” (Phoenix 192). The assertion points to Lawrence’s interpretation of the Kantian absolute as man’s desire to exist in himself, independently from others, isolated from other men. Such a mode of being, however, supposes the absence of “a soul,” a synonym of “the self”2 in Lawrence, which can only be fulfilled by means of vital relationships.3

  • 4 “Requested and received a book on Einstein. […] Probably either The Theory of Relativity: An Introd (...)
  • 5 “the sense of being at one with the great universe-continuum of space-time-life” (Phoenix 541).
  • 6 “The Princess” was written between late September and 8 October 1924, the first version of Sun in D (...)

5Lawrence, therefore, sets out to challenge the conception of isolated individualism as the ideal state of existence. Einstein’s theory of relativity, which Lawrence read in June 1921,4 prompted him to construe and express his own conception of man’s place in the universe and his relation to it. The very terms Lawrence uses in his essays sometimes echo Einstein’s terminology,5 a testimony to the significance which the concept of the relative took in Lawrence’s imagination. Questioning the belief in the primacy of the “absolute self,” he explores the paradoxical hypothesis of the “absolute relative” as the paramount mode of being. Relatedness and interconnectedness are thus posited as the necessary, foundational conditions of the absolute relative. However, the egocentrically seductive and deep-rooted belief in the absolute of the individual self retains a powerful hold on Lawrence’s imagination. Consequently, works of fiction such as “The Princess,” Sun and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which were written in close succession between 1924 and 1927,6 focus primarily on the character’s need to feel connected to other beings, all the while exposing Lawrence’s struggle to impose the idea that absolute relatedness is a necessity.

6Lawrence’s theory of the absolute relative as the essential principle underlying the universe is underpinned by two fundamental idiosyncratic concepts: “blood-consciousness” and the “spirit of place.” Each concept is based on the oxymoronic association of two opposite notions: one external and material (blood and place), one internal and spiritual (consciousness and spirit). But beyond the strict opposition lies a connectedness between the two notions, which shows a desire to reconcile the physical and the spiritual, and make them interdependent. In addition, each concept exists in relation to the other: blood-consciousness is the medium through which the spirit of place is perceived, and the spirit of place awakens blood-consciousness. With the spirit of place, Lawrence imagines a way of inhabiting the world –a living relatedness with all beings– while blood-consciousness is an alternative way of apprehending the world (as a substitute to mental consciousness) and of acknowledging that relatedness. These two fundamental concepts therefore lay the groundwork for the fictional representation of the existence of interconnectedness in the universe and for the dramatization of the discovery of and subsequent need for interconnectedness.

  • 7 See for instance Philippe Descola’s study of the indigenous belief in the need to sustain cosmic eq (...)

7Lawrence’s intention in linking together two apparently incompatible absolutes is to renew the existing Western conception and representations of the distinction between the physical and the spiritual. The concepts of “blood-consciousness” and “spirit of place” draw instead on the non-Western belief in the permeability of the spiritual and the physical worlds and in the sustaining of the one by the other.7 The existence of such cosmologies among many indigenous peoples was brought to light in Europe by anthropological studies such as Frazer’s The Golden Bough in 1890 and Totemism and Exogamy in 1910, which Lawrence read in December 1915 and again in 1922 (Sagar 84, 95). The interest which indigenous people’s cosmologies elicited in European minds at the beginning of the twentieth century and the legitimacy with which they were subsequently regarded owe much to the influence which Einstein’s theory of relativity exerted over various scientific fields, including ethnology. In his own essays and fiction, Lawrence thus explores the conception of a world in which the physical and the spiritual are interconnected.

8In the works of his American period in particular, he relies on personal interpretations of Native American beliefs to explicate his theory of absolute interconnectedness. In the essay “Pan in America,” Lawrence describes a pine tree in both physical and spiritual terms: while it is exposed to the elements, transformed by passing seasons and used as a refuge by small creatures, the tree is also termed “a guardian spirit,” “supporting some powerful mystery,” “bristling with acquisitive energy, obscurely radiating some of its great strength.” (Phoenix 24). The human observer is made aware of a relatedness between the tree and the earth and sky, from which it derives “earth-power” and “sky-glitter,” and of a relatedness between himself and the tree: “I have become conscious of the tree, and of its interpenetration into my life” (Phoenix 25). The term “interpenetration” is crucial, insofar as Lawrence goes to great lengths to establish the idea of an exchange of energy: “I am even conscious that shivers of energy cross my living plasm, from the tree […] And the tree gets a certain shade and alertness of my life, within itself” (Phoenix 25). Moreover, the consciousness of interconnectedness with the tree is increasingly stressed in the exposition of this theory, highlighting the awakening of the self through relatedness. All the while, Lawrence regularly alludes to the Native American practice of “blazing” trees, which he understands as a sign of their knowledge of the spiritual power residing within and their desire to transfer it to themselves: “Long ago, the Indians must have been even more acutely conscious of it, when they blazed it to leave their mark on it” (Phoenix 25). In this way, the argument of native cosmology gives authority to his own theory of interconnectedness and prepares his interpretation and recreation of the indigenous rituals and discourse regarding the exchange of spiritual power between man and the cosmos.

  • 8 “Pan in America” was written between mid-May and June 1924. Sagar 224-226.
  • 9 “And then, being so still and alone, she seemed to get into the current of her proper destiny She h (...)

9In Sun and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which were written in the years directly following “Pan in America,”8 the motif of a life-giving relationship with a tree is worked into the narrative of the main character’s sensual regeneration, awakening her sensibility towards the spirit of place and her need for relatedness. Lady Chatterley’s Lover uses the motif briefly, to introduce both Constance’s growing awareness of a regenerative energy emanating from the wood and the theme of sexual regeneration: “Constance sat down with her back to a young pine-tree, that swayed against her with curious life, elastic and powerful rising up. The erect alive thing, with its top in the sun!” (LCL 86). Although Constance is made aware of the vital force of the tree and, under its spiritual influence, takes a new perspective on her life, there is no mention of interconnectedness, such as was to be found in “Pan in America.” Indeed, Constance has not yet reached that state of “blood-consciousness” whereby the narrator of “Pan in America” was made conscious of his interconnectedness with the tree. Neither does she feel the fundamental need for relatedness, which will be triggered by the pheasant chick episode, savouring instead her detachment from former relationships.9

  • 10 The tree is “powerful” (23), its tip “hanging over” (25) like a protective limb and “the contorted (...)
  • 11 “He looked up at the sun, and through the sun he saw the dark sun, the same that made the sun and t (...)

10Similarly, Sun does not explore the theory of interconnectedness between Juliet, the cypress tree and the sun quite as absolutely as “Pan in America,” but the relatedness between the three is more elaborate than in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Firstly, the communication of the tree’s vitality to Juliet is expressed by a metaphor combining sap –the nutrition of plants– and female breasts, evoking maternal milk and fecundity: “She sat by the great silver paw of the cypress tree, drowsed in the sun, but her breasts alert, full of sap” (Sun 27). Secondly, the tree is symbolically connected with the sun by the use of a simile which both assimilates the tree to the life-giving warmth of the sun and establishes a rooted vertical link between earth and sky: “It stood like a guardian looking to sea; or a candle whose huge flame was darkness against light; the long tongue of darkness licking up at the sky” (Sun 21). This sentence makes use of several images conceived in previous texts by Lawrence (a form of literary interconnectedness), such as “Pan in America,” which already alluded to the conductive quality of the tree, gathering and diffusing energy from the earth and sky. It also referred to the pine tree as a “guardian spirit,” without developing the image of protection. Sun, however, expands on Juliet’s perception of the tree and the surrounding cactus thicket as a protective and trustworthy spiritual presence.10 In addition, the image of a dark candle is reminiscent of the “dark sun”11 in The Plumed Serpent, a symbol of a spiritual force within a material body –the sun. Thus, the dark flame of the cypress points to the spiritual power of the tree, while “the long tongue of darkness licking up at the sky” hints to its sensual influence over Juliet, who perceives its regenerating power on her self: “She was becoming aware of an activity rousing in her, an activity which would bring another self awake in her” (Sun 27).

  • 12 “‘The sun he is alive at one end of the sky,’ he continued, ‘and the moon lives at the other end. A (...)

11Although Juliet’s connectedness with the tree underpins her sensual regeneration, her most meaningful relationship, as the title suggests, is with the sun. This idea is echoed in the essay “Aristocracy,” which was written in the summer of 1925, some months before the first version of Sun: “[Man’s] life consists in a relation with all things: stone, earth, trees, flowers, water, insects, fishes, birds, creatures, sun, rainbow, children, woman, other men. But his greatest and final relation is with the sun, the sun of suns: and with the night, which is moon and dark and stars” (Phoenix 481). In fact, Lawrence wrote extensively about man’s relation to the sun between 1924 and 1925, no doubt inspired by native cosmologies on the American continent. While The Plumed Serpent adapts the Aztec myth of the dark sun to serve Lawrence’s idea of a spiritual power which man derives from the sun, “The Woman Who Rode Away” develops Lawrence’s figuration of a native myth which poses absolute cosmic interconnectedness as the fundamental principle underlying the creation and continuance of the world,12 insofar as it is the joint relation between man, sun, woman and moon which gives life to all four beings.

  • 13Contrairement au dualisme moderne, qui déploie une multiplicité de différences culturelles sur le (...)
  • 14 She could feel the sun penetrating into her bones; nay, further, even into her emotions and though (...)

12Lawrence thus challenges the Western anthropocentric conception that the natural world is merely a backdrop to human life: “To every man, to every woman, the universe is just a setting to the absolute little picture of himself, herself” (Phoenix 525). His use of landscape in his fiction testifies to his belief that the natural world is as much a part of human existence as human existence is a part of the life of the cosmos. Going one step further than Thomas Hardy, who gave natural elements destructive or beneficial intentions towards human life, Lawrence thus endorses non-Western cosmologies in which all beings share the same condition of humanity and depend on one another to survive, to quote anthropologist Philippe Descola.13 Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious exposes this theory without the distancing medium of a fictional tribe’s founding myth and decreases the focus on the role of man: “The sun sets and has his perfect polarity in the life-circuit established between him and all living individuals. Break that circuit, and the sun breaks. Without man, beasts, butterflies, trees, toads, the sun would gutter out like a spent lamp. It is the life-emission from individuals which feeds his burning” (PU 188). The personal pronouns in these sentences underline the anthropomorphism of the sun, although this may not be an adequate term in the present argument, if the sun is conceived as an “individual” partaking of the same humanity as man. In Sun, masculine pronouns are also used to refer to the sun, but they serve a different purpose, since the story focuses on Juliet’s regeneration through her relationship with the sun, without exploring the idea of the sun’s regeneration. “Pulsing with marvellous blue, and alive, and streaming white fire from his edges, the sun! He faced down to her, with blue body of fire, and enveloped her breasts and her face, her throat, her tired belly, her knees, her thighs and her feet” (Sun 21): the masculine pronouns –and the verbs, which later become sexually explicit14– suggest a human lover, whose sole purpose in the narrative is to prompt Juliet’s sensual, or even sexual, regeneration. Moreover, the portrayal of the sun as Juliet’s paramour anticipates her sexual phantasies about a local peasant, which mark a new stage in her quest for relatedness.

  • 15 Descola’s study explains the native belief according to which natural beings or phenomena are anima (...)

13“The Princess,Sun and Lady Chatterley’s Lover all describe a female character’s regenerative quest in a foreign place: a quest for relatedness, for life-giving contact with the spirit of place, which can only be fulfilled through a sexual relationship with a native guide figure who acts as an intermediary between the outsider and the spirit of place. Domingo Romero, the Italian peasant and Oliver Mellors seem to metonymically concentrate the spirit of place, thanks to their ability to communicate with it. Due to his Spanish and native ancestry, Romero’s physical appearance is markedly Mexican and his eyes are “Indian-looking” (SM 168), which suggests his close connection with the place and the spiritual beings who animate it, according to native beliefs.15 In addition, he is endowed with an instinctive knowledge of the place and seems to merge with the landscape: “Silent, aloof, almost imperceptible in the landscape, he was an admirable guide, with a startling quick intelligence that anticipated difficulties about to rise” (SM 168). Sensing the relatedness between Romero and the place, and desiring it for herself, Dollie Urquhart makes him her guide, seeking to establish a connection with the native man in order to be initiated into relatedness with the spirit of place. The Italian peasant’s role in Sun is somewhat different, insofar as Juliet is already conscious of a relatedness between herself and the sun before she takes an erotic interest in the native man. Yet he too is portrayed as a product of his environment, concentrating the power of the sun: “the strange challenge of his eyes had held her, blue and overwhelming like the blue sun’s heart. […] And with his red face, and with his broad body, he was like the sun to her, the sun in its broad heat” (Sun 30). His connection with the sun eventually elicits in Juliet the notion that a physical relationship with the man may incarnate her relationship with the sun, thereby fulfilling her sensual regeneration: “And Juliet thought: Why shouldn’t I go to him! Why shouldn’t I bear his child? It would be like bearing a child to the unconscious sun and the unconscious earth, a child like a fruit. –And the flower of her womb radiated” (Sun 37).

  • 16 The Princess learned her lesson early –the first lesson, of absolute reticence, the impossibility (...)

14However, both Dollie and Juliet hesitate to engage in a physical relationship with their native men, despite being conscious of a spiritual connection already established between them. Shortly after meeting Romero, Dollie is suddenly and unexpectedly given an insight into his true self by noticing “that vivid, latent spark in his eye, which she had seen, and which she knew he was aware she had seen. It made an inter-recognition between them, silent and delicate” (SM 170). Yet as soon as both characters become aware of the interconnectedness between their two “daemons,” their “true selves,” as opposed to their social selves, Dollie rejects the idea of any connection but a spiritual one: “now she came down to it, it was as if their two ‘daemons’ could marry, were perhaps married. Only their two selves, Miss Urquhart and Señor Domingo Romero, were for some reason incompatible” (SM 171). In Lawrence’s theory, however, fulfilment or regeneration depends on spiritual and physical interconnectedness. Dollie Urquhart, who from the beginning of the story was described as a fundamentally isolated individual,16 consequently never achieves a connection with the man and the spirit of place, and falls victim to a nervous breakdown. With Sun and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Lawrence asserts with increasing conviction the necessity of absolute interconnectedness as the condition of a fulfilled life. Juliet’s regeneration is thus regarded as incomplete until her spiritual and physical connection with the sun is sublimated into a relationship with a man. Much like Dollie, Juliet senses a connection between herself and the native man: “As she sat there, she felt the life streaming from him to her, and her to him. She knew by his movements he felt her even more than she felt him. It was almost a definite pain of consciousness in the body of each of them” (Sun 37). While the connection between Dollie and Romero suggested instinctive spiritual knowledge of the other, this connection is described in more physical terms, as an exchange of life energy, similar to the experience of interconnectedness with a pine tree expressed in “Pan in America.” Yet Juliet too recoils from the thought of a personal connection with the Italian peasant and ultimately avoids an actual physical relationship, although the final paragraphs of the story hint to a renewed connection with her husband: “She knew it was for him, the branded little city man, that her womb was open radiating like a lotus” (Sun 38). The blossoming lotus simile is used throughout the story, first with the sun, then with the peasant, to symbolize Juliet’s sensual revival and her readiness to be spiritually and physically connected with other beings. This suggestion of a further step towards fulfilment is nevertheless overcast by the very last sentence: “She was bound to the vast, fixed wheel of circumstance, and there was no Perseus in the universe to cut the bonds” (Sun 38). As in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, fixity is associated with isolation and decay, whereas relatedness is conceived as a liberating and restorative force.

  • 17 “We Need One Another” was written in 1928, as was the second version of Sun. Lawrence wrote his rev (...)

15The characters’ desire for isolation in all three narratives is pitted against the vital need for connectedness with others, and in spite of the obvious thesis that aloofness is contrary to spiritual and physical fulfilment, Lawrence struggled to assert it convincingly. Thus, even Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which defends this thesis more firmly than “The Princess” and Sun, has its spokesman, Mellors, voice his reluctance to abandon his independence and seclusion: “She had connected him up again, when he had wanted to be alone. She had cost him that bitter privacy of a man who at last wants only to be alone” (LCL 118). While his isolation is admittedly half-hearted and unsatisfactory, his connection with Constance and, by extension, with life, is also experienced with a definite lack of conviction, which predominates all the way to his final letter. Yet Lawrence’s essays of the same period17 strongly condemn modern man and woman’s longing for isolation and independence, and denounce the essential emptiness of the individual who forsakes relationships. Lawrence’s warning in “We Need One Another”: “Strip us of our human contacts and of our contact with the living earth and the sun, and we are almost bladders of emptiness,” (Phoenix 190) echoes Juliet’s perception of her husband, whose lack of connection with the sun reduces him to nothingness: “Being so sunned, she could not see him, his sunlessness was like nonentity” (Sun 36). In “Flowery Tuscany,” Lawrence notes that “to the southerner […] the absolute is sunniness; and shadow, or dark, is only merely relative: merely the result of something getting between one and the sun” (Phoenix 57). The absolute is imagined here as man’s connectedness with the sun, which supports Lawrence’s theory of the absolute relative as the true mode of being. Indeed, Lawrence claims that the principle of the absolute self is a dangerous delusion:

So long as men are inwardly dominated by their own isolation, their own absoluteness, which after all is but a picture or an idea, nothing is possible but insanity more or less pronounced. Men must get back into touch. And to do so they must forfeit the vanity and the noli me tangere of their own absoluteness: also they must utterly break the present great picture of a normal humanity: shatter that mirror in which we all live grimacing: and fall again into true relatedness. (Phoenix 382)

16Ultimately, it seems that Lawrence desperately wanted to believe in the absolute of interconnectedness, while being continually inclined towards individualism and isolation, and was therefore extremely insistent upon the dangers of individualism and the vital necessity of relatedness. In the Kantian sense, the theory of an absolute of interconnectedness points to an ideal state of existence which Lawrence longs for, but whose realisation appears to be compromised, because Lawrence is forever tormented by his incapacity to relate to all men and drawn to the conception of the isolated absolute of each human life. On the other hand, since Lawrence distrusts the assertion of any absolutes, interconnectedness remains a subjective conception of man’s existence in the cosmos and a condition of the belief in the possibility of an alternative mode of being. Lawrence does after all conclude the description of his vital connection with the pine tree with these words: “Of course, if I like to cut myself off, and say it is all bunk, a tree is merely so much lumber not yet sawn, then in a great measure I shall be cut off” (Phoenix 26).

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Bibliographie

Descola, Philippe. Par-delà nature et culture. Paris: Gallimard, 2005.

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Lawrence, D. H. Lady Chatterley’s Lover and A Propos of “Lady Chatterley’s Love.” Cambridge: CUP, 2002 (1928).

—. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Vol. IV June 1921-March 1924. Cambridge: CUP, 1987.

—. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Vol. VI March 1927-November 1928. Cambridge: CUP, 2002.

—. Phoenix: The Posthumous Papers of D. H. Lawrence. London: Heinemann, 1936.

—. Phoenix II: Uncollected, Unpublished, and Other Prose Works by D. H. Lawrence. London: Heinemann, 1968.

—. The Plumed Serpent. Cambridge: CUP, 1987 (1926).

—. “The Princess” in St Mawr and Other Stories. Cambridge: CUP, 1988 (1925).

—. Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays. Cambridge: CUP, 1985.

—. Sun in The Woman Who Rode Away and Other Stories. Cambridge: CUP, 1995 (1928).

Sagar, Keith, ed. A D. H. Lawrence Handbook. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1982.

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Note de fin

1 “the unconditioned must not be present in things insofar as we are acquainted with them (insofar as they are given to us), but rather in things insofar as we are not acquainted with them, as things in themselves” (Kant 112).

2 “the clue of man’s own identity is a man’s own self or soul.” Phoenix 601; “The self or soul is single, unique and undivided” (Phoenix II 233).

3 “A soul is something that forms and fulfils itself in my contact, my living touch with the people […]. The wholeness of my soul I must achieve.” (Phoenix 192).

4 “Requested and received a book on Einstein. […] Probably either The Theory of Relativity: An Introductory Sketch (1920) or The Special and the General Theory (1920).” (Sagar 93).

5 “the sense of being at one with the great universe-continuum of space-time-life” (Phoenix 541).

6 “The Princess” was written between late September and 8 October 1924, the first version of Sun in December 1925 and the second version mid-April 1928, the first version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in October 1926 and the third version between December 1927 and January 1928. Sagar 224-226.

7 See for instance Philippe Descola’s study of the indigenous belief in the need to sustain cosmic equilibrium: “Chaque individu serait ainsi conscient de n’être qu’un élément d’un réseau complexe d’interactions se déployant non seulement dans la sphère sociale, mais aussi dans la totalité d’un univers tendant à la stabilité, c’est-à-dire dont les ressources et les limites sont finies. Cela donne à tous des responsabilités d’ordre éthique, notamment de ne pas perturber l’équilibre général de ce système fragile et de ne jamais utiliser d’énergie sans la restituer rapidement par divers types d’opérations rituelles.” (Descola 31).

8 “Pan in America” was written between mid-May and June 1924. Sagar 224-226.

9 “And then, being so still and alone, she seemed to get into the current of her proper destiny She had been fastened by a rope, and jagging and snaring like a boat at its moorings. Now she was loose and adrift.” (LCL 86).

10 The tree is “powerful” (23), its tip “hanging over” (25) like a protective limb and “the contorted cactus made a forest” (21) sheltering Juliet from view. The tree is also implicitly described as a father figure: “the child would chirp incessantly: ‘Cypress tree! Cypress tree!’ He missed it as much as she did.” (Sun 26).

11 “He looked up at the sun, and through the sun he saw the dark sun, the same that made the sun and the world, and will swallow it again like a draught of water.” (PS 123).

12 “‘The sun he is alive at one end of the sky,’ he continued, ‘and the moon lives at the other end. And the man all the time have to keep the sun happy in his side of the sky, and the woman have to keep the moon quiet at her side of the sky. All the time she have to work at this. And the sun can’t ever go into the house of the moon, and the moon can’t ever go into the house of the sun, in the sky. So the woman, she asks the moon to come into her cave, inside her. And the man, he draws the sun down till he has the power of the sun. All the time he do this. Then when the man gets a woman, the sun goes into the cave of the moon, and that is how everything in the world starts.” (WWRA 61).

13Contrairement au dualisme moderne, qui déploie une multiplicité de différences culturelles sur le fond d’une nature immuable, la pensée amérindienne envisage le cosmos tout entier comme animé par un même régime culturel que viennent diversifier, sinon des natures hétérogènes, des façons différentes de s’appréhender les uns les autres. Le référent commun aux entités qui habitent le monde n’est donc pas l’homme en tant qu’espèce mais l’humanité en tant que condition.” (Descola 30).

14 She could feel the sun penetrating into her bones; nay, further, even into her emotions and thoughts.” (Sun 21).

15 Descola’s study explains the native belief according to which natural beings or phenomena are animated by a spirit which is conscious of man’s presence: “Bien des traits du paysage sont d’abord dotés d’une personnalité propre. Identifiés à un esprit qui les anime d’une présence discrète, les rivières, les lacs et les montagnes, le tonnerre et les vents dominants, l’embâcle et l’aurore sont autant d’hypostases réputées attentives aux discours et aux actions des hommes.” (Descola 34.34).

16 The Princess learned her lesson early –the first lesson, of absolute reticence, the impossibility of intimacy with any other than her father.” (SM 161).

17 “We Need One Another” was written in 1928, as was the second version of Sun. Lawrence wrote his review of Trigant Burrow’s The Social Basis of Consciousness in August 1927, in between the second and third versions of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. “Flowery Tuscany” was also written in 1927. Sagar, 104, 224-226.

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Fiona Fleming, « The Absolute of Interconnectedness in “The Princess,” “Sun,” and Lady Chatterley’s Lover »Études Lawrenciennes [En ligne], 51 | 2020, mis en ligne le 10 juillet 2020, consulté le 21 octobre 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/lawrence/1776; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/lawrence.1776

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Fiona Fleming

Fiona Fleming is a Teaching Fellow at Paris Nanterre University. She teaches English to undergraduate students in Human and Social Sciences and in Economics, Maths and IT.
She received her PhD from Paris Nanterre University in October 2016 for her dissertation on “Foreigners and Foreignness in D. H. Lawrence: the Creative and Transformative Power of Otherness”. 

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