Fate And The Younger Generation: D H Lawrence

Elizabeth,_Comtesse_Greffuhle_1905_,_by_Philip_Alexius_de_Laszlo

It is strange to think of the Annas, the Vronskys, the Pierres,
all the Tolstoyan lot wiped out.
And the Aloyshas and Dmitris and Myshkins and Stavrogins,
the Dostoevsky lot all wiped out.
And the Tchekov wimbly-wombly wet-legs all wiped out.
Gone! Dead, or wandering in exile with their feathers plucked,
anyhow, gone from what they were, entirely.
Will the Proustian lot go next?And then our English intelligentsia?
Is it the ‘Quos vult perdere Deus’ business?
Anyhow the Tolstoyan lot simply asked for extinction:
‘Eat me up, dear peasant!’ – so the peasant ate him.
And the Dostoevsky lot wallowed in the thought:
’Let me sin my way to Jesus!’ – So they sinned
themselves off the face of the earth.
And the Tchekov lot: ‘I’m too weak and lovable to live!’-
So they went.
Now the Proustian lot: Dear darling death, let me
wriggle my way towards you
like the worm I am! – So he wriggled and got there.
Finally our little lot: ‘I don’t want to die
but by Jingo if I do!’
– Well, it won’t matter so very much either.’

David Herbert Lawrence 1885-1930

The illustration is Princess Marie Anatole Louise Élisabeth de Riquet de Caraman-Chimay, best known by her married name, Élisabeth, Comtesse Greffulhe (1905) by Philip Alexius de Laszlo. She was thought to be the model for Proust’s Duchesse de Guermantes.  Via Wikimedia.
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About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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2 Responses to Fate And The Younger Generation: D H Lawrence

  1. paulkabc says:

    I cherish Chekhov. So strange to see D. H. mock him so. But interesting too…. Chekhov’s seeming vagueness and lack of vigour. Though underneath all that sensitive humanity, he was as tough as splinters.

    • layanglicana says:

      I also love Chekhov, particularly. But also Proust. I think DHL was in a rather tetchy mood, having a go at all nineteenth century romantic outpourings. I like this poem, because there are times when I know what he means, but of course I do not write off the whole Romantic movement!

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