D.H. Lawrence and D.W. Winnicott: Overlapping Paths
D.H Lawrence’s creative period as a novelist flourished from just before and during the years of the First World War. His magnum opus novel Women in Love was written in 1916 though not published till 1921 owing to the awful controversy his novels generated in these war years. Lawrence’s creativity, however, also extended to being a poet, painter, dramatist and essayist. And in his own idiosyncratic way he wrote two long essays on psychoanalysis, namely, Psychoanalysis and the Unconsciousness and The Fantasia of the Unconscious which evoked a rather derisive response at first from several of his critics and friends. Of course, today critics see the importance of these essays for an understanding of Lawrence’s total oeuvre. To me, though, they represent a significant development in psychoanalytic theory. D.W. Winnicott, a leading figure of the British School of Object Relations Psychoanalytic Theory, burst on to the international psychoanalytic scene with his landmark paper: `Primitive Emotional Development’ of 1945. He followed this with another watershed paper: `Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena’ of 1951. These two papers, both published by the International Journal of Psycho-analysis, turned classical psychoanalysis on its head. My paper examines therefore the uncanny affinity that Lawrence’s central premises in his essays on psychoanalysis share with Winnicott’s concepts of transitional objects and potential spaces. My paper demonstrates how Lawrence argues the subtle developmental patterns of the growing infant almost in the same way as Winnicott does years later while explaining his concepts of transitional objects and potential spaces. In a broader sense, this paper also illumines how Lawrence and Winnicott, though separated well in time, shared a common notion of how to live and work creatively and wholesomely. In this regard this paper reveals how closely Lawrence’s statements on life and art match Winnicott’s formulations on the same.
Keywords: D.H.Lawrence, D.W. Winnicott, Psychoanalysis, Unconsciousness, Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena, Dream and Reality, Dialectic of Contrareity, Self, Internal World, External World, Subject and Object, Polarity, Evolution, The Fourth Dimension, Potential Space
Professor Arindam Chatterji
Professor, The Department of English and other Modern European Languages, The University of Allahabad