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PROGRAMME 2016-17

THE D.H.LAWRENCE SOCIETY

OFFICERS 2016-17

President

PROFESSOR JOHN WORTHEN

Vice-Presidents

MRS ROSEMARY HOWARD

MRS JOAN MCCLUSKEY

DR. CATHERINE BROWN

PROFESSOR DAVID ELLIS

PROFESSOR CHRISTOPHER MILES

Chairman

MALCOLM GRAY

Secretary

BRENDA SUMNER

Treasurer and membership

SHEIA BAMFORD

Council Members

ANDREW HARRISON

FRED SKILLINGTON

BOB HAYWOOD

DAVID AMOS

PAIGE AMOS (Youth Member)

PROGRAMME 2016-17

All meetings in 2016 will be held at the Horse and Groom, Moorgreen, Newthorpe, Nottingham, NG16 2FE at 7.15 pm, unless otherwise informed. 2017 meeting place to be arranged.

2016

Friday 9th September

The D.H.Lawrence Birthday Lecture

JAMES MORAN

“D.H.Lawrence and W.B.Yates”

(To be held in the Hall Park Academy Lecture Theatre, Mansfield Road, Eastwood, NG16 3EA at 7.00 pm)

Wednesday 12th October

STEPHEN BAILEY

“Lawrence and Bennett – men from the North”

Wednesday 9th November

JANE COSTIN

“The legacy of Lawrence’s time in Cornwall”

Wednesday 14th December

CHRISTMAS DINNER at the Horse and Groom, with readings. Time to be arranged.

2017

Wednesday 11th January

CATHERINE BROWN

“Lawrence and London”

Wednesday 8th February

RUTH TEMPLETON

“Jesse’s Lament”

Wednesday 8th March

ANDREW HARRISON

“The Life of D.H.Lawrence: A Critical Biography”

Wednesday 12th April

JOHN WORTHEN

“Lawrence’s Fictional Self”

Wednesday 10th May

CLIVE LEIVERS

“The Chambers after the Haggs

Wednesday 14th June

JONATHAN LONG

“The Presentation Copies of Lawrence’s books”

Wednesday 12th July

A.G.M. with readings and discussion

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Programme of Society Meetings 2015-16

The programme of talks for 2015-16 is as follows:

Friday 11th September – D. H. Lawrence Birthday Lecture by Dr Howard J. Booth, entitled “At last to newness”: The Rainbow and the Dream of a Better World, to be held in the Hall Park Academy, Lecture Theatre, Mansfield Road Eastwood at 7.00 – 9.00 PM.

Wednesday 14th October – Stephen Bailey: Lawrence and Bennett – men from the North.

Wednesday 11th November – Mac Daly: “What does Lawrence have to do with Eastwood any more?”.

Wednesday 9th December – Christmas Dinner with Readings.

Wednesday 13th January – Sorrel Kerbel: Lawrence and the Unconscious.

Wednesday 16th February – Dave Brock: D. H. Lawrence, Ted Hughes and our Relationship with Animals.

Wednesday 9th March – Bob Haywood: F. R. Leavis and Lady C.

Wednesday 13th April – Bethan Jones – “The Prussion Officer” and “Billy Budd”: Lawrence’s “imperfect politics of war”.

Wednesday 11th May – Adam Lang “Sea and Sardinia” 1921. Lawrence, the QB (Queen Bee) and Sardinia today.

Wednesday 8th June – Andrew Frayn –  D. H. Lawrence’s “Bay”.  War, destruction and reconstruction.

Wednesday 13th July – AGM, with Readings and Discussion.

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Sons and Lovers: BBC Radio 4

Programme Broadcast on Friday  13th December

Like buses, we get little or nothing about Lawrence from the media and suddenly two presentations come along. This was another celebration of “Sons and Lovers”. I have to be honest, I haven’t heard of Frank Cottrell Boyce but his production was interesting.  The programme discussed some of the tensions within the Morel’s marriage, and the idea that parental aspirations are often the cause of driving children out of the comfort of the family home. Certainly this was evident in the Morel’s/ Lawrence households. Mrs. Lawrence was keen that her children should do well, should climb socially. George Lawrence moved away from home from an early age and always remained something of a remote figure, but not primarily driven out by his mother’s ambitions.

For Lawrence’s mother the harsh reality was that “bettering” her children drove them out, physically and emotionally, it certainly intensified the rift between Lawrence and his father. The programme did well to illustrate this from “Sons and Lovers” as well as from Lawrence’s real world.  George Hardy suggests that Mrs Lawrence gave her children the advantage of speaking ‘ a standard  dialect free English”. The Education Act of 1870 gave opportunities for working class children to benefit from a reasonable education. Ernest certainly did. I understand what the programme was trying to do, it is just a shame that, for me, it rather attempted too broad a canvas. It would have been interesting to examine Lawrence’s novel in terms of educational changes. Flx and change there certainly was. A passing reference was made to the fact that “Sons and Lovers” came out on the same day as the first performance in Paris of “Rites of Spring” It was a time of change “Things Fall Apart” (W.B. Yeats and Chinua Achebe—perhaps Achebe does for West Africa what Lawrence was doing for a socially changing England. If you haven’t read Achebe’s novel I would encourage you to do so.). What would have made a very good radio or T.V. programme, or even a series, would have been an examination and analysis, in detail, of how Lawrence records this social change that he felt was evident in the world of his early years.

As well as suggesting that ambition could, and did, fracture the closeness of the Lawrence family, and the Morel family, thE programme also attempted to look at how some mothers, at the time, were frustrated by their own lack of opportunity, and the sense of sacrifice. Mrs. Morel was “brave and rich with life”, Paul feels guilty about what his mother has given up. In the first chapter of “Sons and Lovers” Lawrence describes in detail some of the tensions that existed between the husband and wife, and within the family :-

“At last Mrs Morel despised her husband”   page 20  (Oxford Wrl Classics)

“She still continued to strive with him”   page 22

“Mrs. Morel’s intimacy with her second son was more subtle and fine, perhaps not so passionate as with her elder”. Page 82

Or

The happiness of the home when Mr. Morel was mending pots and pans.   Page 24   “It always gave her a sense of warmth and peace to hear him”

What I would love to have heard was a more detailed analysis of Lawrence’s technique within the novel. He was, after all, breaking new ground. Mrs. Morel is, surely, frustrated within the household but tied to a pre-existing role pattern. Only slowly will it change.

(There is a subject here for a reading group session in the D.H. Lawrence Festival in 2014.)

The programme praised Lawrence as an observer of live and as a realist. The presenter suggested that we should hear the writer’s voice in their work. A quotation from Raymond Williams was used to support the claim of ‘Realism’ in “Sons and Lovers”.

The programme strongly supported the value of reading, for adolescents “an eye opening experience”. The presenter rightly claimed ‘we can explore relationships through what we read.’ Stanley Middleton, a Nottingham novelist, had praised Lawrence for his ability to turn the insignificant experiences into something important e.g. Mrs Morel rediscovers a physical passion for her husband as she washes his back, but the emotion does not last long.

The old chestnut was raised again. Was Lawrence a misogynist? Here it rolled out American Feminist attacks again. Two writers were mentioned ;- Kate Millet, and John Carey’s “Intellectuals and the Masses”.  A reading of Norman Mailer on Kate Millet on Lawrence sounds  good fare.

Here again, I felt, the programme suffered from too short a time allocation. Paul Morel’s relationships with Clara and Miriam are both interesting. The subject is worthy of more detailed study. Maxine Peake’s contribution was interesting. She failed an audition because she was not considered sensual enough to ‘fit the bill’. Lawrence’s women, in his novels, and in his own life experience, were strong and intelligent people, often progressive in their attitudes.  Oh for a more detailed examination of just this aspect of Lawrence’s own writing and his own life experience. There is evidence in abundance of Lawrence’s attitudes to women, he writes at length about women and, I would argue, his female characters are probably better than most of his male creations. The writings of just two women who knew Lawrence well—Jessie chambers “D.H. Lawrence A Personal Record” by E T  or “Frieda Lawrence The Memoirs and Correspondence” Edt by E.W. Tedlock  both  give interesting perspectives into the subject of Lawrence and women.

The centenary of “Sons and Lovers” was almost bound to generate some media attention. The Radio 4 programme was interesting and served to bring Lawrence the writer back to a reader’s attention. I declare my bias, but Lawrence deserves greater recognition. If nothing else he is the Britten of the written word so deserves media exposure, or do we have to wait until March 2030 for that. Radio and T.V. could do worse than examine Lawrence and the Great War in 2014.

Malcolm Gray

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A Journey Without Shame: BBC2

Programme broadcast on Saturday 23rd Nov. 2013  on B.B.C. Television

Featuring Geoff Dyer, Dr. Catherine Brown, Dr. Andrew Harrison and Prof. John Worthen—even Simon Armitage, opening his heart, or was it me opening my own?

Previous experience of Lawrence on T.V. led me to be very anxious about this latest B.B.C. venture, an effort, rather late in the year, to celebrate the centenary of “Sons and Lovers”. A death on a ‘sand-dune’ and, I have to be honest, I’m not a great lover of Geoff Dyer’s “Out of Sheer Rage”. What could I expect?

Emma Sturgess’ ‘Radio Times’ flag waver for the programme did little to reassure me :- ‘well meaning but lopsided’ , It doesn’t delve too deep’ or ‘accusations made about Lawrence. Was he a misogynist, a racist?’

In  advance I armed myself with a copy of Andrew Harrison’s Times Lit Supp. article “Meat Lust” and John Worthen’s chapter “The Role of Women” (Chap3 of “D.H. Lawrence” in the Arnold Modern Fiction series) ready to refute in anger a shallow, badly edited and biased B.B.C. token culture Saturday show.

What emerged was, for me, a very interesting and balanced account of Lawrence’s voyage, his journey across the Alps, and eventually to Taos and Mexico. (Phone calls and e mails to other Society members garnered responses ranging from ‘I am in love with Catherine Brown’ to ‘That is the best programme I have ever seen on Lawrence’ to ‘It’s got to come out on D.V.D.’ There was little negative response from any member I spoke to.) The scenery in the Alps was used to dramatic effect, and the conversation between Catherine and Geoff Dyer emphasised the point that Lawrence and Frieda were not on a ‘honeymoon’, their journey was hard and Lawrence was very involved in his writing, and he was not always well, despite the fresh air. In November 1911 he was ‘fearfully ill’. As well as the facts of Lawrence’s desire to work, and his ill health, the programme also brought out the significance of their poverty. Frieda may have had an aristocratic family background, and she left a comfortable life in Private Road, but they were not well off, and often walked because they had to. Initially Frieda intended to return to her husband and three children. The programme suggested that, at first, she had not planned to make a complete break from her husband.

The programme made clever use of the fade in of Geoff and Catherine as almost Lawrence and Frieda, but also allowed them in their discussion to stand outside the relationship and analyse the significance of the relationship, and of the Alpine journey. Undoubtedly Lawrence was looking for himself, he was reacting against the strictness of his ‘Methodist’* background as he sought to find a new spirituality. Catherine’s comments on the little chapel, but her horror of the broken and bleeding Jesus in the crucifixion, suggest Lawrence’s interest in a new spirituality. The mountains, we are told, gave him a deep almost ‘spiritual’ experience. Geoff calls it a ‘sense of arrival’, a physical high point from which there is ‘no going back’ so ‘where now, on into Italy’?  (* This was one mistake in the programme. I think the main influence on Lawrence was the Congregational Church. In “The Early Years” John Worthen discusses the influence of the congregational church, and the Monday meetings of the Congregational Literary Society. Pages 169—173)

Talking about Lawrence’s journey with Frieda, John Worthen’s comments were very enlightening. He suggests that on the first part of their journey Lawrence quickly became ‘a deep necessity’ for Frieda and, equally, she drew Lawrence into a new sphere of his own life, and his writing life. It was not an easy journey, physically or emotionally for either of them but, as John suggested, Lawrence was ‘excited by Frieda from the first meeting’. She became ‘a central person in Lawrence’s life’, ‘a woman of a life time’. They were a revelation to each other.

In the section of the programme up until Lawrence and Frieda journey on to Ceylon, Australia and finally Mexico, (Carswell’s “Savage Pilgrimage”) I felt that the script was tight and intense without being too serious. Catherine Brown suggested that Lawrence had a sense of humour, and demonstrated this from both his novel “Mr. Noon” and from some of his poetry. The camera work added to the enjoyment of the programme, there were silences where the splendour of the snow face or the isolation of the ridges and peaks spoke volumes, there were close ups which visually supported the comments that were being made—the man beneath the log in the religious image was just one example. It was gorgeous T.V. without being sentimental or unreal. The dialogue and the images reinforced the sense of the journey, people seeking their purpose and place, and a sense of their own identity, in a new and changing world. Lawrence was always special, he wore a white pocket handkerchief at school, but it was a new sense of purpose, away from the industrial England that, in one sense, he loathed that he sought. Ironically, despite the beauty of the Alps, it was the landscape of his Nottingham which was always “The Country of my Heart. Frieda was always a rebel, she was happy, initially, to purse an affair with Lawrence, she had sex with Harold Hobson, and told Lawrence she had, but she too took on a new role. She supported Lawrence and he ‘lifted me body and soul out of all my past life.” (“Not I, But the Wind”).One positive aspect of the programme was the use that was made of Lawrence’s texts. Quotations were used from “The Rainbow” and “Women in Love”, and descriptions from “Mr. Noon”. Simon Armitage called Lawrence’s poetry ‘something new’ ‘a splurge on the page’ which excited him when he first came to it. Lawrence’s travel texts were used to support the view that “Lawrence describes mountains better than any other writer”.

An element of controversy was introduced into the programme by the reference to Lawrence as a misogynist. In 1970 he was attacked by an American critic for what was perceived as an anti female attitude in his work. The programme was very fair, it aired this view but gave John Worthen opportunity to refute it. (as Dr. Harrison had done in his TLS article on “Meat Lust”). John also put into perspective the accusation that Lawrence was a Fascist and racist. He made the interesting comment—“to study a topic is not to believe in it”.

The idea of Lawrence and Frieda on a journey was further explored, in some detail, as the programme showed them in Taos and Mexico. Good use was made, again, of stunning visual images, of the great sweep of the open prairie and the spectacle of a largely unexploited landscape that so easily inspired Lawrence. (In his preface to “Mornings in Mexico” Michael Squires  writes “What is remarkable is the rapt sympathy” – which Lawrence felt and expressed—“for the ‘snake’ world where human passions intersect with earthly process”) Lawrence and Frieda felt at home there and, as the programme suggested, found New Mexico encouraged more free thought. Here ‘the old world gave way to the new.

The title of the programme seemed to suggest that Lawrence’s journey was indeed “Without Shame”, and the opportunity was given to John Worthen, Andrew Harrison and others, as well as Catherine and Geoff, to emphasise the physical and metaphorical aspect of Lawrence’s and Frieda’s eloping (though Lawrence did not call it such.) I was pleased that the temptation to stress a sexual adventure was resisted. What resulted was, I felt, a very positive and balanced record and analysis of ‘the Journey’. The programme was, in my opinion, one of the best television responses to any aspect of Lawrence’s life and work.

A ‘stand alone’ D.V.D. for use in schools, colleges etc would be a fitting by-product, a very sound way of introducing potential students and scholars to Lawrence study. It was worth missing “Match of the Day” for, and better than ‘Strictly’. I feel the B.B.C. has given Lawrence studies a positive promotion and we, as a Society, need to build on it.

Malcolm Gray