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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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Re-enter Jessie, 1911–1912

Re-enter Jessie, 1911–1912

(p.83) 5 Re-enter Jessie, 1911–1912
Sons and Lovers: The Biography of a Novel

Neil Roberts

Liverpool University Press

Jessie’s criticism was crucial to Paul Morel’s transformation into one of the great novels of the twentieth century. She advised Lawrence to stay much closer to actuality, and in particular to include the death of his elder brother Ernest (William in the novel) which had been omitted from the second draft. This plot element is subtle, poignant and thematically resonant, since William's death is imbricated with his inability to choose a suitable sexual partner and by extension with his relationship to his mother. Jessie showed acute critical judgement about the potential of the biographical material and the appropriate style for tackling it. She also had a more personal motive: she hoped that by writing this story 'Lawrence might free himself from his strange obsession with his mother.’ Lawrence agreed to her plan and asked her to write some reminiscences of their times together. But he had barely begun rewriting the novel before he fell seriously ill with pneumonia. He did not continue work on the novel while ill, but he did write a short story, the first version of 'The Shades of Spring', in which he re-imagined his relationship with Jessie.

Keywords:   Jessie Chambers, Paul Morel, criticism, Ernest Lawrence, biographical, pneumonia, ‘The Shades of Spring’

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