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Transport and Cultural Transition in the Novels of D. H. Lawrence

Author(s): Andrew Humphries

Journal: United Academics Journal of Social Sciences
ISSN 2212-5736

Volume: 2;
Issue: 11;
Start page: 7;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: transport D. H. Lawrence | cultural | travel literature | techno-historical | gender mobility

This essay discusses the work of a longer thesis which argues how transport reflects D.H. Lawrence’s engagement with an early twentieth century culture in rapid transition. Focusing on his novels Sons and Lovers (1913), The Rainbow (1915), Women in Love (1920), The Plumed Serpent (1926), and Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), it explains how the thesis takes a techno-historical approach to Lawrence’s work that engages with transport history as well as with philosophical and artistic movements of the period such as Modernism and Futurism, to argue that transport is used by Lawrence to enframe personal and cultural change as part of a wider shift enabled by travel towards great mobility during the first decades of the century. Transport vehicles interact, literally and metaphorically, with events and issues of cultural significance like the First World War and the Suffrage Movement and synthesize the protagonists’ real and inner journeys to give concrete focalization to the wider ontological quest at the heart of Lawrence’s fiction. Lawrence uses transport as a mobilizing and mobile phenomenon that invests cultural change with symbolic immediacy. Transport is used to explore shifts in gender space and power in a rapidly industrializing world. In Sons and Lovers extends industrial patriarchy and enhances male mobility at the expense of female space and in The Rainbow it enframes journeys of female liberation and empowerment. Women in Love involves transport to expose war subtexts that fulfil, literally and metaphorically, society’s apocalyptic and destructive impulses. In Lawrence’s Mexican novel The Plumed Serpent he places transport at the centre of the encounter with difference and dramatizes postcolonial tensions between invasive technological materialism and primitive cultural revival. The essay concludes with the idea that Lawrence’s final novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover locates transport as the agent of a postwar technological hegemony against which organic human futures must be tested. It examines a passage from the novel in closer detail to indicate the thesis approach to the integration of transport with considerations of thematic importance. Finally, the essay shows how the thesis concludes with an examination of Etruscan burial-transport rites that synthesize Lawrence’s interests in transport realism, cultural transit, and spiritual quest.
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