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Sons and Lovers: The Biography of a Novel$
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Neil Roberts

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781942954187

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781942954187.001.0001

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‘The Saga of Siegmund’ and the Test on Lawrence, 1909–1910

‘The Saga of Siegmund’ and the Test on Lawrence, 1909–1910

(p.33) 2 ‘The Saga of Siegmund’ and the Test on Lawrence, 1909–1910
Sons and Lovers: The Biography of a Novel

Neil Roberts

Liverpool University Press

At the end of 1909 Lawrence suddenly decided that he wanted a sexual relationship with Jessie Chambers, after having denied this for years. This chapter examines the background to the failed sexual relationship that forms the biographical basis for Chapter 11 of Sons and Lovers, ‘The Test on Miriam’. One of the factors that prejudiced this attempted consummation was Lawrence’s meeting with Helen Corke and his decision to write ‘The Saga of Siegmund’, the first draft of his second novel The Trespasser, based on her memoir of her tragic relationship. While writing the book Lawrence became sexually fascinated by Helen, and the novel’s theme, the undermining of a man’s will to live because of his lover’s sexual reluctance, chimed all too fatefully with his feelings about making love to Jessie. This is the first example of the close intertwining of writing and biography in this period of Lawrence’s career. The Trespasser is also a key document in Lawrence’s struggle to develop a prose style, being overblown and self-consciously literary, to some extent in imitation of Helen Corke’s own style.

Keywords:   The Trespasser, Helen Corke, Jessie Chambers, Sexual relationship, style

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