Pretty much known as the Henry Miller of his time, D.H. Lawrence was a writer that lots of people were reading, but were ashamed to admit to. The sexually charged Lady Chatterly's Lover would have made him a wealthy man if he had lived a bit longer. Lawrence has too often been the victim of readers looking over his art to see the erotic elements. Jeffrey Meyers tries to present his subject as an artist who changed the times he lived in. Meyers pretty much fails.
Born into a working class family, Lawrence figured out early on that his mother was the one that made the decisions in the household, overriding his father, who was frequently drunk and abused his wife. As so often happens, this pattern would be repeated with DH's own marriage. After a couple of years of being a teacher, a job which he despised by the way, he met a woman somewhat older than himself who was married, and proceeded to fall in love. Much as Henry Miller's wife got him to quit his job and concentrate on his art, so too did Frieda. Eventually getting a divorce, Lawrence married her. Her love came at a price though. On their honeymoon, Freida had affairs with other men to prove her freedom.
Finding some fulfillment with Freida but still unable to feel complete, Lawrence set about writing a handful of novels about some semi-mystical state you could reach through sex. It was as though Lawrence felt so disconnected with the world and so alienated from women that he sought some cosmic answer in his books as to how they two sexes could be brought together in one being. Meyers also suggests that maybe as an alternative Lawrence sought for this union through affairs with men also.
In this biography I failed to see how anything about DH's and Freida's relationship was positive. She seems to be more a physical plaything that a loving wife. Every time you hear about DH and her, they seem to be yelling at each other and having actual physical fights. Probably because just like in his father's marriage, he is the passive-aggresive one who does not have the stamina to control Freida except in moments of anger when he hits her. The only thing she helped him with was sex. Meyers himself seems enamored of Freida, time and again saying how attractive she was when the pictures in the book make her appear just as Georgia O'Keefe comments upon meeting her, that she was "a chunky, gold-toothed, guttural-voiced woman". I still never figured out her supposed beauty.
I felt no connection with Lawrence. I don't know if it was the fault of the biographer or DH himself. He came off as a hypocritic man who tried to lord it over his friends. He never seemed to think they were good enough or smart enough to figure out what they wanted from their lives. He sacrificed many of his friends, such as that with Katherine Mansfield for his egomaniacal mannerisms. Some might say this is a symptom of genius. I believe that Lawrence was simply an above average writer, bordering on bad.