The Faces of Influence: Women in Love as Lawrence's Response to Howards End

By:
Dr. Fred Mensch
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The relationship between E.M. Forster and D.H. Lawrence has fascinating and problematic aspects, as both express strongly similar themes in their work deriving from starkly different backgrounds. The similarities and differences are best encapsulated in a representative novel by each author, Forster's Howards End, and Lawrence's Women in Love, which provide an apparent similarity of purpose, theme and intent. This paper proposes to compare the two novels in light of a variation of Harold Bloom's theory of literary influence, which sees new artists historically bound to "wrestle with their strong precursors, even to the death" (Anxiety 5). This struggle will either defeat the "latecomer", or will result in the assertion of his own creativity to such an extent that the work of the precursor can no longer be read without regard to the later poet. The antithetical relationship of precursor to neophyte becomes so dominant that it seems as if "the later poet himself had written the precursor's characteristic work" (16). Influence, thus, operates bi-directionally as a quintessentially modernist phenomenon, essentially negating history as continuum. If we see Forster's publication of Howards End in 1910 as the precursor novel, and Lawrence's Women in Love, completed in 1916, as the later poet's reaction to the influence of the father, we are faced with two major novels of the early twentieth century integrating the major themes of modernism in a parallel, yet vastly different manner, for Lawrence was anything but a willing neophyte to Forster. Where we might expect, from Bloom's thesis, an increasing, wilful drive toward interiority, self-consciousness and subjectivity, this is fundamentally opposite to Lawrence's focus on class, social issues and sense of "community". It is this deviation from Bloom's theory that forms the foundation of the significant comparison of Lawrence to Forster.


Keywords: Forster, E.M. Lawrence, D.H. Influence, Bloom, Harold
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Faces of Influence


Dr. Fred Mensch

Department Chair, English Department Academic Foundations and Bridging, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Canada

Fred Mensch has been an educator in the Alberta educational system for more than twenty years, during which he has taught as well as served in administrative capacities in English departments, Printing and Graphic Arts, and Computer Systems Technology. Having earned degrees from the University of Lethbridge (BA 1968), Simon Fraser University (MA 1972), and the University of Alberta (PhD 1992), Mensch has presented and published in a variety of technical, educational, and academic areas. He has been extensively involved in curriculum development, on-line training initiatives, and collaborative learning projects at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, where he is currently Chair of the English Department. His primary areas of teaching and research are in the Modern British and American Novel, and in Modern and Post-modern Drama. As well as working on the comparison of D.H. Lawrence and Forster in light of Harold Bloom's theory of influence, Mensch is also working on a book-length study of History, Crisis and Consciousness: British and German Drama from Shaw to Durrenmatt, and on an article titled "Egyptian Mythology as a Regenerative Trope in Ondaatje's The English Patient."

Ref: H05P0396