The University of Wisconsin Press

Literature & Criticism


The Forked Flame
A Study of D. H. Lawrence
H. M. Daleski

By detailed critical analysis of representative novels, this study attempts to trace the development of D. H. Lawrence as a novelist. The novels are approached by way of the ideas that are formulated in Lawrence’s expository writings, in particular the "Study of Thomas Hardy" where his concept of duality is set out in terms of the "male" and "female" principles. Lawrence, Daleski contends, though believing intensely in himself as a male, was fundamentally identified with the female principle as he himself defined it, and his work was a lifelong attempt to reconcile the opposed elements within himself.

While this conflict is not offered as an ‘explanation’ of Lawrence’s genius, analysis of its artistic expression both reveals the continuity of his preoccupations as a novelist and suggests reasons for some sharp changes in direction.


Sons and Lovers, an avowedly autobiographical novel, suggests that Lawrence’s self-division should be traced back to his relations with his parents. Lawrence is at his best in The Rainbow, in which his main female character attains to a state of integrated being. He is unable to depict a similar attainment by a man, however, and the "female" implications of the life of his main character in Women in Love lead him to a compensatory "male" assertion in the novels that follow. However, Lady Chatterley's Lover shows a reaction against this, and is an implicit vindication of the female principle—and, Daleski claims, a most impressive work.

H. M. Daleski is a member of the English department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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November 1987

LC: 87-006005 PR
320 pp.   6 x 9
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