Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Review: 'St. Mawr' by D.H. Lawrence

I really enjoy the way that Lawrence writes and after having read 'The Rainbow' and 'Lady Chatterley's Lover', I decided to start this shorter story.

 St. Mawr is the story of a splendid stallion in whose vitality the heroine finds the quality that is lacking in the men she knows. It is also the first of Lawrence's writing to be partially set in America, on a ranch in Arizona. 

I did really enjoy this story, even though at times I felt it was simply a very long extended metaphore. The protagonist, Lou Witt, is a young woman who starts to feel trapped by society and  by the lack of vitality in men. When she sees the horse St. Mawr this is highlighted for her and she becomes more and more frustrated, especially with her own husband. I do recognize myself in this message, although I would extend it to all of society, not just men. There seems to be at times a lack of vitality and enjoyment and too big of a focus on acting a role for society.

I loved the symbolism of the horse and nature. The stallion represents so many different things, not only to Lou but also to the reader. He is free, wild and cannot be tamed. He doesn't adapt to his master's rules or expectations. He presents masculinity and vitality. These are the qualities that Lou is desperately looking for in other humans and even in herself. That is also why she is attracted to the stable boy who looks after the horse. He has the same lively mystery as the horse, yet he is hostile towards Lou and everyone else who represents society. This going against the norm entrances Lou. The struggle within herself and within society is a main theme in the novel and all of it is linked back to the horse. 

I also really enjoyed the banter between Lou and her mother, Mrs. White. The latter is very much the more assertive of the two and much more independent. She likes society, yet she is not as connected to it as her daughter is through her husband, who is, by the way, a very amusing but utterly ridiculous and weak character. Mrs. White is not married and she is the one who recognizes what Lou really wants. The final part of the story takes place in Mexico, which I found quite extraordinary. I don't know many early 20th century novels that are set in South-America. Lou's life there is a struggle, yet she finds it a true struggle, one against nature, not against society. 

I truly enjoy the way that Lawrence writes. He is very descriptive and when I read his writing I feel that he enjoys capturing life. And I think it is amazing how many strong female characters he has. This is all due to the fact that his mother had more education that his father, which must have elevated her in his eyes. He uses a lot of words and sometimes he takes a very long time to write something very simple, but it is beautiful.

I give this story...


I think it would be unfair to give this story anything higher because it is a short story. But I truly enjoyed it. The characters were interesting and complex and the imagery of the horse was complex enough to last for the entire story.

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