"A particularly lucid and jargon-free exposition of Lacan for the uninitiated. But it does a great deal more; it sheds light on many Lawrentian themes--gender, time, infantile experience--that are often approached simplistically."-- Alan Williamson, University of California, Davis
"Lawrence scholarship has, for the most part, resisted changes in academic discourse, and, as a result, Lawrence has generally not been given the respect accorded other modernistic writers. Ingersoll's textual reading of Lacan and Lawrence takes psychoanalytic analysis to an important new plane."-- Joan D. Peters, University of Hawaii, Manoa
This exploration of D. H. Lawrence's longer fiction marks a long overdue effort to bring the writing of a major 20th-century British author into a postmodern context. Earl Ingersoll's approach moves beyond the traditional binary of psychoanalysis and literature in which a single theoretical approach like psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan's is applied to the fiction of a writer like Lawrence. Ingersoll instead turns to theorists who have been influenced by Lacan--Peter Brooks, Jane Gallop, and Barbara Johnson, among others--to construct a framework for the reading of desire in these narratives by Lawrence.
Individual chapters focus on four major Lawrence novels--Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love, and Lady Chatterley's Lover--along with commentary on Lawrence's first novel, The White Peacock. Unlike earlier discussions of these novels as narratives about desire, Ingersoll’s work examines how desire energizes the texts as narratives-whether it is the desire of narrative for its ending in The Rainbow or the implication of the reader in gazing at the male body in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Then, in a postmodern turn of its own, the book includes a chapter on Lawrence's problematic posthumous novel, Mr Noon, forcing readers to reconsider what terms like "major novel" and "author" mean.
Because biographical criticism has dominated writing on Lawrence, some readers may be surprised by Ingersoll’s study since it virtually ignores the author. Many who have written about Lawrence’s work cite his advice--"Never trust the artist. Trust the tale"--but then proceed to ignore that advice by reading the work on the basis of Lawrence’s biography as well as other texts such as his letters and essays. Mr Noon becomes a "major" novel, then, because the narrative implicates readers in the desire to construct its own "author," reminiscent of a Möbius strip, about which it is no longer possible to speak meaningfully of an outside and an inside.
Earl G. Ingersoll, distinguished teaching professor and chair of English at the State University of New York, College at Brockport, is author or editor of numerous books, including Doris Lessing: Conversations, Engendered Trope in Joyce's Dubliners, and Lawrence Durrell: Conversations.