By John Worthen (auth.)
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Extra resources for D. H. Lawrence and the Idea of the Novel
Lawrence and the Idea rif the Novel is perhaps the novel's turning-point, too; it shows Lawrence at grips with his new 'domineering' idea. The whole of William's career, of cou~;se, had taken place earlier in the book, and though the November 1912 summary places William in the same dilemma as Paul, it has to rewrite the novel to do so. In the novel, the most that happens between William and Mrs Morel over William's girl Lily is 'a conflict between them'; but this is caused by Mrs Morel's very natural sense of her son wasting himself, not by a possessive mother-love.
I shall return to the matter. The novel was first conceived in the autumn of 1910; but, interestingly, neither of the people who knew his writing best at the time seem to have known that he had started it: both Helen Corke and Jessie Chambers assert that he began it in 1911. The reason, I suspect, is contained in a remark he made just before Mrs Lawrence died in December 1910: You see mother has had a devilish married life, for nearly forty years-and this is the conclusion-no relief. What ever I wrote, it could not be so awful as to write a biography of my mother.
3 His time in Eastwood culminated in the death of his mother and his own engagement to Louie Burrows; but it produced a number of remarkable letters about his mother's life and marriage, all of which read like passages from that 'awful' biography of her which must have lain behind the first 'Paul Morel'. My mother was a clever, ironical delicately moulded woman of good, old burgher descent. She married below her. My father was dark, ruddy, with a fine laugh. He is a coal miner. He was one of the sanguine temperament, warm and hearty, but unstable: he lacked principle, as my mother would have said.