Dionysus, Pan and Hermes: Greek Myth and Metaphysics in the Work of D.H. Lawrence

Bridgeman, Pamela Anne (1991). Dionysus, Pan and Hermes: Greek Myth and Metaphysics in the Work of D.H. Lawrence. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f7a3


This study shows ancient Greek myth and pre-Socratic metaphysics to be deeply embedded in the symbolic language Lawrence used to express what he called the complete imaginative experience of life.

The Introduction provides on overview of previous studies which have considered various aspects of Greek Influence on Lawrence. Subsequent chapters clarify and expand upon these previous studies by identifying, explicating, and tracing the development of the Greek Influences, as evident in allusions, metaphors and themes in selected novels and stories. Particular attention is paid to the interrelationship between the gods Dionysus, Pan and Hermes in Lawrence's work.

In Chapter One, an examination of The White Peacock reveals, beneath the profusion of classical allusions, a more serious use of myth linked to a radical vitalism. In Chapters Two and Three, the discussion of the stories "England, My England", "Tickets, Please", "The Blind Man" and "The Ladybird" shows how Lawrence used and developed the traditional oppositions between Dionysus and Apollo, Pan and Christ to express the perpetual dual between darkness and light, mind and body, love and power. Chapter Four discusses Kangaroo and "The Border Line" and traces Lawrence's journey towards an image of Pan deeply influenced by the landscapes of Australia and America, Lawrence develops a fierce, dark, phallic, and ultimately non-human god to illustrate the rise of Hermetic power after the collapse of the love-ideal. Chapter Five looks at St. Mawr and The Plumed Serpent, tracing the spiritual journey from an England where men have lost the power of Pan, into the desert of a primitive, pre-classical New Mexican world, to a new classical age in a Mexico that is the Lawrentian equivalent of ancient Greece. Chapter Six finds the Importance of the ancient Greeks to Lawrence confirmed by his statements in Apocalypse.

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