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Wrestling with his own soul.,
This review is from: Women in Love (Kindle Edition)
"Every man who is acutely alive is acutely wrestling with his own soul." D. H. Lawrence
The characters seem to be glyphs or icons representing ideas rather than living breathing people. So the interplay of the characters is really a novel-length argument about some of "the big ideas" of the time.
The discussions of industrial materialism vs. idealism (Gerald vs. Rupert) are especially interesting to me, looking back from the 21st century to the W.W.I era.
"We are such dreary liars. Our idea is to lie to ourselves. We have an ideal of a perfect world, clean and straight and sufficient. So we cover the earth with foulness; life is a blotch of labour, like insects scurrying in filth, so that your collier can have a pianoforte in his parlour, and you can have a butler and a motor-car in your up-to-date house, and as a nation we can sport the Ritz, or the Empire, Gaby Deslys and the Sunday newspapers. It is very dreary."
Of Gerald he writes:
"Immediately he saw the firm, he realized what he could do. He had to fight with Matter, with the earth and the coal it enclosed. This was the sole idea, to turn upon the inanimate matter of the underground, and reduce it to his will. . . . There were two opposites, his will and the resistant Matter of the earth. . . . He had his life-work now, to extend over the earth a great and perfect system in which the will of man ran smooth and unthwarted timeless, a Godhead in process."
Gerald is portrayed as tall, vigorous, very blond and Nordic looking contrasted with Rupert who is slight and often ill. Likewise their views of God seem to be Nietzsche vs. Hegel, perhaps. And Lawrence seems to be more interested in the attraction between Gerald and Rupert than that of the men for the women and vice versa, reflecting his own sexual fascination with a man while he was writing this novel.
The town of Beldover and the environs are covered with the coal dust of Lawrence's youth which drifts like a pall over the characters creating a stifling atmosphere. His characters, like Lawrence, longed to escape England. They escape to Innsbruck when they take the "geographic cure" but they cannot escape their inner conflicts: the "wrestling with their souls" continues.
The language is rich and its view of modernism and human nature is bleak and I would recommend it heartily to any serious reader of literature.