Being Perfect: Lawrence, Sartre, and "Women in Love"

Critical Inquiry 2 (2):345-368 (1975)
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To compare a novel to a work of philosophy is, admittedly, a risky exercise in analogy. When the novelist is Lawrence and the philosophical text is the ponderous and dialectical Being and Nothingness, such a comparison may seem willfully perverse and peculiarly open, insofar as it deals with Lawrence's great theme of sexuality, to his anathema of "sex in the head." Furthermore, modern criticism, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, has tended to be wary of critical approaches that lean on notions that are not derived from literature itself - a tendency that is being reinforced these days by the structuralist insistence on the "literariness" of the Text. Now, despite its metaphorical statement as a form of dramatic "gesture," Sartre's book is very definitely not a work of literature. T.H. Adamowski, associate professor of English at Erindale College, the University of Toronto, has written articles on English, American, and French literature. This essay is part of a larger study on progress on Lawrence's "sexual poetics."



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