D.H. Lawrence and D.W. Winnicott: Overlapping Paths

Professor Arindam Chatterji
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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
Stream: Other or Stream Unspecified
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: D.H. Lawrence and D.W. Winnicott

Professor Arindam Chatterji

Professor, The Department of English and other Modern European Languages, The University of Allahabad

I am currently teaching English and American Literature at the University of Allahabad, India. I have been teaching here since 1978. I also taught (1987-1988) at the Pasadena City College, California, while I was there on a post-doctoral study project. My primary interest is in psychoanalytic theory and modernist and post-modernist literature, and the critical methodology I mainly use is the British School of object-relations psychoanalytic theory. I have published psychoanalytic articles in Man and Development and Punjab University Research Bulletin. My Post-Freudian Study of D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers published in the Punjab University Research Bulletin has been listed by Paul Poplawski in D.H. Lawrence: A Reference Companion (Westport and London: Greenwood Press, 1996). I recently contributed a chapter in Writing Difference: The Novels of Shashi Deshpande (New Delhi: Pencraft International 2005). I interpreted her novel: The Dark Holds No Terrors with the help of D.W. Winnicott’s theory of therapeutic regression. I have also authored a book of short stories: The Taming of Bismarck and other stories published by HarperCollins in 1997. Alongside, I have edited the Oxford Anthology of Short Stories and wrote the Introduction to it (An Anthology of Short Stories: New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000). I also edited the section `Giant Despair’ from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (New Delhi: Macmillan 2002). Last year (May 2004) I received the Charles Wallace British Council `writer-in-residence' award to work in the British Library, London, for my upcoming novel: She Gave Without a Price. At the start of this current year, I chaired a session on American Studies at the Third Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Jan 13-16, 2005. Using D.W. Winnicott's concepts of the True Self and Transitional Spaces I presented a psychoanalytic study of Kurt Vonnegut's novels in this conference.

Ref: H05P0919