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D.H. Lawrence and Sicily

By C.Comellini


D.H. Lawrence, who spent two years in Sicily, has always been fascinated by the island. This fascination is due, first of all, to the Sicilians, described “as handsome as Adonis”, and who seem to manifest and share the sexual energy usually connected to Pan and Dionysus, as he says in Sea and Sardinia, his travel book dealing with Sicily and Sardinia. The image of Sicily recurs in D.H. Lawrence’s entire production, either directly cited or indirectly suggested. If images, such as the volcanoes, the mythical Sicilian monsters, “Scylla and Charybdis”, and the references to the Myth of Pluto and Persephone (which took place in Enna as told in his poem “Purple Anemones”) evoke Sicily elusively, the island is also described in the richness of its nature, with figs, grapes, pomegranates, peaches, almond trees, purple anemones, hibiscus and salvia flourishing everywhere. Sicily represents also the interaction between humanity and nature, that feeling of wonder and mystery inborn in primitive people and, consequently, in their religions and rituals, as D.H. Lawrence masterly recreates in the poem “Bare Almond-Trees”, written in Sicily. In “Peace”, another poem written in Taormina, he uses the eruptive lava of Etna as an expression of change and transformation, thereby elusively suggesting the process of self-renewal leading to fulfilment. In the poem, he brilliantly compares the constant, although long, transformation of everything in life, with the image of lava whose meaning is reinforced and multiplied by a subtle comparison with a snake, one of the best emblems of transformation. Moreover, his novella Sun deals with the flourishing Mediterranean landscape of Sicily, with Etna in the distance, and the memory of the Sicules, the archaic inhabitants of the island; it alludes to the healing properties of the area, as well. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that D.H. Lawrence translated into English several works by the Sicilian Giovanni Verga: from Mastro Don Gesualdo (1923) to Cavalleria Rusticana and Other Stories (1928)

Year: 2012
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