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Haptic ModernismTouch and the Tactile in Modernist Writing$
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Abbie Garrington

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748641741

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641741.001.0001

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D. H. Lawrence: Blind Touch in a Visual Culture

D. H. Lawrence: Blind Touch in a Visual Culture

(p.155) Chapter 5 D. H. Lawrence: Blind Touch in a Visual Culture
Haptic Modernism

Abbie Garrington

Edinburgh University Press

Returning to the concept and experience of blindness introduced in chapter 2, this chapter considers D. H. Lawrence’s touch-obsessed oeuvre by looking at the short novel St. Mawr (1925), and then at the short story of post-Great War damage ‘The Blind Man’ (1922). In the latter, Maurice Pervin’s blinding at Flanders gives him access to other modes of seeing – the potential for spiritual insight, and an ability to attune himself to the tides of his own blood. The chapter considers Maurice as an erection, both in phallic terms, and as a kind of living sculpture, a monument to the losses of the War. Lawrence’s attention to a blind figure thrown upon his haptic resources is part of a broader interest evident in his poetry and travel writing as well as his novels, where the author makes the case for touch or bodily connection as more authentic and meaningful than vision. Lawrence is also a careful attender to the human hand, which, he suggests, ‘flickers with a life of its own’ – an apparently radical assertion that can in fact be traced through the work of several modernist thinkers.

Keywords:   Blindness, Great War, Sculpture, Monument, Vision, Hand, D. H. Lawrence

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