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Reading: Technologies of Affect in D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover

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Technologies of Affect in D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Author:

Margrét Gunnarsdóttir Champion

University of Gothenburg, SE
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Abstract

As stated in ‘A Propos of Lady Chatterley’s Lover,’ Lawrence’s novel depicts the ‘counterfeit emotional life’ as symptomatic of the post-war capitalist nation and hegemonic machine culture. Not only do lords of industry such as Lord Chatterley reify and exploit the working class but the various state apparatuses, in the form of housing development, landscaping, publishing and the media, ideologically interpellate citizens by manufacturing taste, sensation and affect. An early conversation at Wragby Hall among ‘the young intellectuals of the day’ affirms that all social formations of the day, the bourgeois state as well as bolshevist Russia, operate according to the laws of the machine, driving even the younger generation to value display of success and power over the vital principles of life. Even the artists are duped, manipulating the publishing industry to produce images of themselves as ‘the most modern of modern voices.’ Perhaps, in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the human body itself has been most severely devalued, turned into a field of thrills, flirtings, coquetries, games and ‘sex things.’ My essay primarily examines how Lawrence’s novel both diagnoses this ‘imaginary body’ and manufactures an alternative desiring machine through attention to, what Brian Massumi calls, ‘pre-signifying’ affect, motilities of flesh, rhythm, touch, musical sound, gropings toward the other. Although the lovers, Connie Chatterley and Oliver Mellors, are at the center of such an investigation, habitats of nature interface with the human world. What I emphasize is the expression of the complex ecological awareness in the novel: it is possible to view the connection to nature through Connie’s perspective as a ‘becoming,’ an approximation, which educates and opens up the human body to life-sustaining affect: tenderness, pleasure, sorrow, courage and passion.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.619
How to Cite: Gunnarsdóttir Champion, M., 2020. Technologies of Affect in D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 19(5), pp.155–179. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.619
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Published on 19 Dec 2020.
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