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Monday, November 07, 2022

Why the Novel Matters-Summary-D.H. Lawrence | Litgalaxy2019

In his essay, “Why the Novel Matters” published posthumously in a collection called “Phoenix” in 1936, D.H. Lawrence has compared and discussed the superiority of novel over Religion, Philosophy, Science, and Poetry. In addition to this, he has also expressed his thoughts regarding the conventional ideas about the division of man into body and soul or mind. 

In his essay, he has also given vent to his detestation for the superstitions and age-old beliefs which are deceptive which can be observed in his most autobiographical novel, "Sons and Lovers", and "Women in Love".

Why the Novel Matters-Summary
Why the Novel Matters-Summary 

Lawrence is of the opinion that people give utmost importance to the soul and pay no attention to the body. Lawrence sees no difference between his hand and brain. He thinks that both his hand and brain hold life; and they both can feel the universe; and learn a lot about a number of things.


Why the Novel Matters-Analysis

Lawrence that his hand is as much ‘he’ as his brain and there is no difference between them because they are full of life. His hands are the part of the whole {body}. But his pen is not alive because it holds no life. It is a lifeless thing. 

Lawrence thinks that it is wrong to deem the body as merely a vessel of clay. According to Lawrence, life is of utmost importance and nothing else. He thinks that what is full of life is the whole being ending only at the fingertips.

Religion and the Novel

In the arena of religion, the priest often deals with the things in heaven, and talks about them in his sermons. But the novelist like a wise man knows that the paradise is the palms of his hand; and the tip of his nose because both of them are full of life. It seems that Lawrence does not believe in anything that comes after life, and in the very idea of heaven. The parsons and saints talk about spirit and soul and the most complex things in life which are only a part of the life. But they are not associated with the whole {life}. 

Philosophy and the Novel

The philosopher often talks about the occult and complex things like infinity. But when the readers read novels he comes to know that infinity is closely associated with our life. Every person including the philosopher ends in his own fingertips. It is wrong to treat the message of a philosopher or a parson as more important than our living body. The message does not hold any significance if is not associated with Life. Lawrence makes a statement that lifeless things are subordinate to life; and they have no significance whereas things with life are always appealing and amazing. 

Philosophers, saints and scientists are defectors and disloyal because they present shady picture of life. They present life in parts whereas the novelists deal with the whole and present the whole picture of life to the readers. The philosophers give utmost importance to thoughts; and they deal with thoughts rather than emotion and feeling. 

Science and the Novel

The scientists hold everything under his microscope and examine things keenly and declare their view that something is ‘he’ or something else. They are interested in only the examination of the part of the whole {Life}. According to Lawrence, the whole is always greater and significant than the part. The novel presents a fuller and clear picture of life than philosophy, religion and science; hence it is superior to them. 

Science, philosophy and religion advocate laws, prohibitions and principles whereas the novel represents the interrelation of things that man has discovered and experienced in the course of his life. Man as a living organism is greater than spirit, soul; or body and mind because they are merely a part of him. 

Superiority of the Novel

D.H. Lawrence deems the novelists superior to the scientists, philosophers and saints because he thinks that the novel is the one bright book of life; and it has the power to appeal any man; and it represents life and everything related to life. Lawrence opines that Bible is a novel because it is really about man’s life and about life. 

According to Lawrence, the great writers like Homer and Shakespeare are great novelists because they pass the test of completeness and wholeness. They covered the whole body of life in their works of art. 

Lawrence states that he has no faith in any dazzling revelation of mystery, or any supreme word. He thinks that man can learn many things from the novel. The characters in the novel can do nothing but live. Though it is very difficult to define life, and it is indescribable, novels present life in detail. Novels make the reader comprehend life in its fullness. So they are superior to religion, philosophy and science. The novel also guides the readers about what is wrong and right, what is good and bad. 

It is possible that what is good in one context; it may be bad in some other context. It is only in the novel that all things mingle with each other in order to give vivid and clear idea of life which is the whole. In addition to this, change is also a key factor of life. The things which allure someone today may cease to attract his attention tomorrow. Life has its own beauty in itself. It represents the wholeness of a man and the wholeness of a woman. 


Thus, D.H. Lawrence has expressed his views in defence of the novel and has described the superiority of it in the essay over religion, philosophy, science and poetry. Harry Blamires has aptly commented, “D.H. Lawrence blasted away with hectoring rhetoric in aggressive defence of the novel as a crucial influence on the way we live.”

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