Archive | April 2013

The Touch of Him

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“The touch of him,” said Connie.

“That’s it, my lady, the touch of him! (…).”

H.D.Lawrence has usually been considered as an erotic writer, and as a misogynist, and I wonder what does it mean. Lawrence does not simply write erotic scenes, he is concerned with sexuality in an existential manner; and he is not simply a misogynist when he is able to display women’s concerns in their love relationships with such accuracy. Indeed, if Lawrence understood something it was the woman -strange enough for a man to sink into a female’s heart.

For Lawrence, sexuality conformed an important part of the human life and it meant something for him.  He does not literally describe physical contact, but he goes beyond it trying to get a deeper meaning usually through the metaphor. There is something fulfilled in the sexual encounters so needed for the person as other aspects of his or her reality. Lawrence’s characters use to experience their body as a very integrated part of their souls, and it communicates part of his being, especially, through sexuality. In Lawrence’s works, men and women should note a physical compatibility between them to find a complete meaning to their love relationships. In Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Connie’s husband paralysis becomes as well her own, and she submerges herself into a lifeless world. Connie’s rejection of her active sexuality implies that of her truly self and need for life. The interesting point in Lawrence’s analysis is that he relates the personal experience of his characters’ sexuality with their self. Mr Chatterley for example is a man of business and industry; he owns mines, machinery, he is hard and cold -like Gerald in Women in Love. However, Connie does not deal well with the technical world, but with the natural life. This difference between them two separates them, and it finds a corresponding expression in their respective sexuality. Lawrence uses to critique the negative effects of industry upon nature and the human being, and it is normal to find in his works negative associations with the industrial man. Mr Chatterley represents infertility with his paralysis and impotence; he is away from nature, from his and his wife’s biological being. But Connie lives suffocated under the industrial business of her husband, until she meets a worker of her husband’s properties.

Lady Chatterley’s lover represents the contact with nature and primitivism for both his low status and his life in the woods. Their meetings take place in the hut, which is actually a very primitive space compare to the Chatterley’s mansion. Nature is the surrounding of their sexual desire, and it means life and fecundity. Connie feels properly like a woman when she fulfils her sexuality, something very important for Lawrence who considered the heterosexual complementation as source of life and energy. The sexual descriptions have the function of outlining the male and female reactions to each other, and their mutual necessities only to be satiated with each other. Connie needs him to touch her to find her complete womanhood, and he needs her to kill his loneliness. That is why penetration is always described as an entrance into her; the references to the inside are important as they reach a spiritual meaning, a mutual completeness.

Our Body, Our Language

dancing,women,art,dance,painting,womans-59550cc39b7428ffade728ba4e533455_h_largeSince the second half of the nineteenth century is possible to see in the history of literature an increasing prominence of the human body and its importance. It was Freud who put into words the relation between our interiority and our body and clearly talked about an interpretation of the physical signs to know our inner problems. The body talks, indeed, as we are a human unit, and it is a pity to see how nowadays medicine is just concerned with the physiological. A lot of health problems have their origin somewhere deeper within us but the fashion today is to cut off what is superficially wrong and, of course, the problem usually comes again later on. Well, the main problem in our medical system is that humanities have absolutely no importance and we find doctors with no idea of what a human being is beyond his or her flesh. But this digression was not my intention.

Coming back to literature, I would say Zola is one of the most important authors concerned with the body reactions to our own actions. In fact, Thérèse Raquin and Laurent after killing Camille do not present spiritual regret but physical regret, to say so. It is a very interesting point how, even when a person could have lost all his or her feelings, the body remains and expresses through illness the consequences of an action. They do not ‘feel bad’ but they feel ill, terribly ill until the point of desiring death. That is what Zola does wonderfully, he experiments with the most physical part of the human being and this part talks as well.

In a more linguistic approach, it is excellent the work of Roland Barthes and even of Michel Foucault regarding the language of the body. Barthes, in The Semiotic Challenge finds a correlate between the body and the language and argues how illness belongs to the language of the body. Foucault in The Birth of the Clinic presents a similar approach regarding the sign found both in the body and the language. It is possible to read a human body as it is possible to read a text and until now the most wonderful example I can give of is Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text. Barthes establishes a parallel between the textual and the human eroticism and seduction. Language and body are extremely related in this case but they are so indeed in a lot of situations.

Lawrence is another author dealing with the language of the body and between bodies. Most of his female characters feel their sexual needs as something which goes beyond the physical and expresses itself in the whole person, something similar happens to Thérèse Raquin. The awakening of the body has consequences all over the psyche and soul of the character and the process of attraction starts with a physical communication which usually is expression of something deeper. When the body is able to express the truly personality of the person harmony is likely to appear.