Lawrence believed that industrialized Western culture was dehumanizing because it emphasized intellectual attributes to the exclusion of natural or physical instincts. He thought, however, that this culture was in decline and that humanity would soon evolve into a new awareness of itself as being a part of nature. One aspect of this "blood consciousness" would be an acceptance of the need for sexual fulfillment. His three great novels, Sons and Lovers (1913), The Rainbow (1915), and Women in Love (1921), concern the consequences of trying to deny humanity's union with nature.
After World War I, Lawrence began to believe that society needed to be reorganized under one superhuman leader. The novels containing this theme— Aaron's Rod (1922), Kangaroo (1923), and The Plumed Serpent (1926)—are all considered failures. Lawrence's most controversial novel is Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928), the story of an English noblewoman who finds love and sexual fulfillment with her husband's gamekeeper. Because their lovemaking is described in intimate detail (for the 1920s), the novel caused a sensation and was banned in England and the United States until 1959.
All of Lawrence's novels are written in a lyrical, sensuous, often rhapsodic prose style. He had an extraordinary ability to convey a sense of specific time and place, and his writings often reflected his complex personality. Lawrence's works include volumes of stories, poems, and essays. He also wrote a number of plays, travel books such as Etruscan Places (1932), and volumes of literary criticism, notably Studies in Classic American Literature (1916).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.