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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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‘Paul Morel I’ and the Death of Lydia Lawrence, August–December 1910

‘Paul Morel I’ and the Death of Lydia Lawrence, August–December 1910

(p.57) 3 ‘Paul Morel I’ and the Death of Lydia Lawrence, August–December 1910
Sons and Lovers: The Biography of a Novel

Neil Roberts

Liverpool University Press

It was after breaking with Jessie in the summer of 1910 that Lawrence wrote the first draft of Sons and Lovers, which he initially called Paul Morel. All that survives of this attempt is a sketchy chapter plan. In August his mother fell ill and under the strain of her illness he abandoned work on the novel. In December his mother died, throwing him into emotional chaos. He saw Jessie at this time and confessed to her the Oedipal nature of his feelings for his mother. Remarkably, while attending her deathbed, he wrote a comedy about a dying mother and her excessively attached son, The Merry-go-Round, which reads like an attempt to exorcise his feelings, though it was probably in reality little more than a distraction. This play strikingly counterpoints the poems that Lawrence was writing at the time, such as 'The Virgin Mother', which are symptomatic of the emotional condition that he confessed to Jessie. He impulsively proposed to another old friend, Louie Burrows. Louie was also a teacher, whom Lawrence described as 'swarthy and passionate as a gypsy' but 'awfully good, churchy'. This last was the most irksome fly in the ointment during their year-long engagement.

Keywords:   ‘Paul Morel I’, mother, death, Oedipal, The Merry-go-Round, Louie Burrows

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