His biography can help understand his work but it is not enough: his work exceeds his life. Lawrence (1885-1930) was a very isolated man but was also a visionary. He came to maturity at period of WWI, a time of political and cultural changes when the question “where is the western civilization going” was asked. Question imposed by the traumatic effects of mass destruction. And by the many changes in society: social classes, roles of men and women, how to find meaning, spiritual values in a world dominated and destroyed by machines. Increase in materialism. Old structures don’t correspond anymore to a society that is more and more industrialized. Values, structures, and roles given to individuals were fast changing and put into question. Identity of the individual was put into question by the savagery and the absurdity of WWI. Individuals are swallowed up by nationalism, regiments, are erased, blurred by the group. The theme of opposition between the group and the individual is a major theme in Lawrence’s work. He felt the pressure of the group; he was a loner, an outsider. Social classes mattered way more at that time (class ridden society). Lawrence comes from a working class background (mining): his father was a working class man and his mother middle class. Lawrence was one of the first to show the working class point of view. He got a good education for someone of his class. He was very interested in relationships between man and woman, as well as between man and man, as woman and woman: Sex and - what it means to the individual, links with spiritual meaning, the idea of fusion – is one of his great interests, at a time when it’s a great taboo, and homosexuality a crime. He is a pioneer.
He saw the religious, the individual and materialist system as corrupt and saw sex as a way to develop and to fuse with other others and nature. On the eve of WWI, Germans are seen as enemy; nationalism is strong and Lawrence choses to take a German hero, the opposite of the typical English man: that was scandalous. He put in question social hierarchies, stereotypical, roles of the individuals. Bachmann breaks with the group and gains a certain identity. Lawrence travelled through the world (France, Australia, Mexico, etc.) which was not usual for someone of his class: “go see the world” is very present idea in the story. Analysis
“Vin ordinaire” or thorn flesh: symbol implication: religious, bible, Christ. Allegory about the condition of the modern man. Bachmann is symbolic, Christ-like figure suffering crucifixion by system and society. The title is in French but is not a usual expression in English: it gives a sensation of exotic: defamiliarization, deconditioning + religious idea. “Vin ordinaire” is drunk by the ordinary man: fate and destiny of the average man, as in to drink and digest on a daily basis. In a short story, you need to make a strong impression with the opening lines, the introduction. First glance at opening lines: description but there is more to it First line: dynamic image of the nature; nature is divine, the non-humans feel more alive than people. Nature is often brought to connection with characters and the other way around (as when soldiers are compared to bears). “Sky was blue…”: dynamic again. “Flame…”: vertical movement, that is echoed by the cathedral. Man-made universe is elevating. The next paragraph is about barracks (we go from cathedrals to barracks): abrupt contrast reinforced by other elements. The technique of contrast is often used by Lawrence. “…gay…”: vivid natural world… “Climbing” nature. It contrasts with the human who will try to climb and fail. After all the details of nature, wind, climb etc., the description of humans shows them as being imprisoned: lack of freedom is an important theme. “Lime tree”: again positive image of nature
“green blended flowers”: images of men, of industrialized society that invades nature; nature gets contaminated by...