D. H. Lawrence’s three versions of a relationship

D.H. Lawrence wrote three versions of the same novel in the four years before his death.

His method was as follows: between each version, Lawrence would put the manuscript aside for several months and go on to something else. When he came back to his project, he didn’t work from the previous manuscript to modify it, but entirely rewrote a second version. And later, he rewrote a third version as well. Therefore, certain plot points and circumstances are common to all three versions, but entire passages are not strictly similar and no dialogue is identical. The characters themselves, the novel’s four main characters – Lady Chatterley and her husband Clifford, the gamekeeper (whose name changes depending on the version) and Mrs. Bolton, Clifford’s nurse – vary significantly from one version to another. As a result, we are dealing with three independent versions, each one coherent from the first page to the last.

According to Frieda, Lawrence’s wife, the first draft titled “The First Lady Chatterley” is the best of the three versions and the shortest; Lawrence wrote it between October 1926 and March 1927. The most startling difference between the first and the final is the relative lack of sex and the near lack of Lawrence’s fine nature descriptions. In the first version, the gulf between Connie and her lover yawns widest. Parkin, as the gamekeeper is called, seems a purely physical creature. In Connie’s eyes he represents the missing physical half of Clifford, but he lacks the educated consciousness which she values in a man. Parkin won’t live on Constance’s money and Constance won’t live in the working men’s hovels. Parkin gets political and starts mixing Communism with his desire for Lady Chatterley.

The second version, completed in the summer of 1927, is the longest and had been published by Gallimard under the title “Lady Chatterley et l’homme des bois” (published in English as “John Thomas and Lady Jane”). This version is tender and lyrical, less tortured, in dealing with its subject. The gamekeeper Parkin is higher on the social scale, not the son of a miner but of a professional cricketer, and he does not resent the upper classes as bitterly as does the first Parkin. Yet there are the differences of power, education and wealth that separate them, which Connie brushes them aside. In “Lady Chatterley et l’homme des bois,” the story is literally overrun by vegetation and the plant kingdom doesn’t come in simply as a metaphor for the life force that brings the two protagonists together, but accompanies them constantly during their transformation.

“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” is the third version, full of anger and sexually explicit discourse, the one Lawrence considered definitive and which he published at his own expense in March 1928, a few months before his death. Here, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” is transformed into Mellors, who has all the credentials of a gentleman except genteel birth. An ex-officer in the British Indian Army, educated, travelled, Mellors is very much a man of the world. His culture and origins make his relationship with Lady Chatterley less abyssal, since, intellectually, they are practically from the same world.

Por um fio

Hoje disseram-me que eu tinha “um ar pouco terreno”. Acumulando isso com anteriores caracterizações da minha pessoa enquanto “bruma”, “diáfana”, “etérea”, “fugaz”, etc., fico com a sensação de que não ando longe de parecer um fantasma ou, pelo menos, algo de lunático, no que isso tem de extra-terreno ou desterritorializado.

Se a imagem que passo é tão esparsa quanto uma imagem em vias de dissolução, então talvez deva privilegiar as relações “sem imagem” que se baseiem sobretudo na minha figura, isto é, no “fio” que subjaz à minha persona, esse cordel por trás da máscara de vulto: a realidade da minha irrealidade.

Que a divina providência – que é o Acaso – afaste do meu caminho aqueles que têm tanto de convencional quanto de rude: pedras em bruto, cuja gema preciosa ainda não veio (se alguma vez virá) ao de cima.

A nuvem desfaz-se em fiapos contra os ângulos rochosos.

‘Make life a game rather than a struggle’

“The Henry Miller Odyssey” (1969), directed by Robert Snyder.

3:10 – «Music will sound a note, you know, that brings the next note. One thing determines the next thing, do you see? And when you come down to… Philosophically, in a zen thing like Zen, the idea is you live from moment to moment, so, in doing that, this moment decides the next step. You shouldn’t be five steps ahead, only the very next one, and, if you can keep to that, you’re always alright. See, people are thinking to far ahead and sidelines and all that, do you know what I mean? Think only what is right there, do only what is right under your nose to do, hum? It’s such a simple thing and people can’t do it, you know…»

7:00 – «I think this is a very important thing in life: that people learn how to play and that they make life a game rather than a struggle, you know, for goals. Playing is so much important».

7:38 – «I’ve always been interested in the occult, because I’ve never been able to accept this world. I know that there is another world behind it, that is the real world.»

31:10 – «I went to live with June/Mona. (…) I had a number of jobs in-between. (…) I was fired one day because I was caught typing out from Nietzsche’s “Anti-Christ” while working, on work time».

43:35 – «I think that when you suffer deeply somewhere, you can’t escape. You begin to accept the situation and then you find marvellous things in it, don’t you know? So, in the midst of my poverty and suffering and all that, I really discovered Paris, the true French spirit in every thing, and got to love it. This was, of course, a hard thing to understand: how can you enjoy being like that, right down at the very bottom, and yet I think that it was the most important thing that ever happened to me: to be without anything, no (…) of any kind, cut off completely from all help, and I have to find it every day, that’s how to live on day to day. This is a very good thing, you know? You suffer? Sure, you’re miserable. But, it is so interesting, so fascinating. You’re still so thoroughly alive when you do that, you’re living then with your instincts like an animal, and that’s a great thing for us, overcivilized people, to know again how to be a bird of prey, you know, an animal, just wolfing every meal and begging, being humiliated, a time and again, accepting it, being pushed down and then bouncing back up again. Each day it’s a miracle that you get through, do you see? This is a very wonderful thing.»

1:16:00 – «It was a tremendous pleasure to get out into the provinces. (…) It was there that I’ve found people who were lazy, and knew how to talk, how to live, how to do nothing. And it was a great relief after the Northern spirit of France.»

1:20:25 – «Death in life. There are people who are dead in life. And that’s the only death, that’s the real death. Not this death when you depart (…), but being dead when you’re alive, that’s real death, I think».

1:21:00 – «I began to dream heavily, violently, every night. Then, I learned how to wake up without loosing the dream. This is an art and a discipline, and I’ve discovered that. I’ve lost it again, but I can do it if I want. You learn how to wake up. You don’t wake up, you don’t open your eyes wide right away. You know you’ve been dreaming when you wake up, close your eyes slowly again and you hold on to that last thread and go back like into the labyrinth and trace it back, and when you get all together, get out of bed, (…) go right to the typewriter and record it. Not only record that dream, but all the associations that came up with it».

1:22:15 – «The neurotic of today is the man of the future or, at least, he is the germ of that man of the future. This neurosis is a healthy thing. That’s paradoxical, too. (…) The most important thing about it is: he cannot adapt to this world and he should not adapt to it, since it is a bad world. There are two ways of looking at that: either you destroy this world – lock, stock and barrel – or you adjust to it in a way that you are detached from it.»