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The Plumed Serpent (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

D.H. Lawrence
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 1995 Wordsworth Classics

This Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex.

In this notorious late novel, Lawrence’s pagan imaginings burgeon. Kate Leslie, an Irish widow touring Mexico, becomes gradually involved with a charismatic leader, and she enters a sexual relationship with his dark henchman.

As the two men conspire to revive the old Aztec religion and seize power, Kate is increasingly implicated in their ‘blood consciousness’, phallic propaganda and right-wing violence.

The Plumed Serpent abounds in the ‘politically incorrect’: Lawrence retains his power to shock. As a publisher once said, ‘Anything to do with D. H. L. is rather dangerous.’

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New Ed edition (1 July 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853262587
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853262586
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 258,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 5 Oct 2009
D. H. Lawrence once again brings us a beautifully written book, this time set in 1920s Mexico. If you are expecting something that really gets into the Mexican psyche though this will not be a book for you. In a time of political upheaval Kate Leslie is in Mexico and after coming into contact with a couple of Mexicans she slowly changes her perception of the people.

From its opening scenes at a bullfight this book can be a bit gory at times, especially as Kate becomes involved with the new religious cult based on the ancient Aztecs. Underlining this story is a deep sexual tension, making it on a very deep level highly erotic, and in some ways helps to explain the avid buying of vampiric novels (this isn't one).

If you are a Lawrence fan you should have already read this, indeed I first read this years ago, but if you are not and want to try something different and rewarding then read this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful and hopeful 27 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is Lawrence at his best, atmospheric and powerful. He despairs of the mute acceptance of abuse by the peon character, worn down by generations of oppression, and there is exploration of ways forward, breaking the stultifying status quo. The work is well-paced, the scenic descriptions are beautiful - Lawrence's love for Mexico and the Mexican people glows through. I have read some academic reviews saying this novel shows fascist tendencies - I can see none - yes, a couple of the characters are undoubtedly fascist, but I don't detect Lawrence's sympathies lying with them, they are necessary for the story. This is a great novel, human and humane.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars High expectations dashed 5 Mar 2010
By H. Tee
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really really wanted to enjoy this book. It is the first D H Lawrence I've read, and knowing of his quality writing and the plot outline and `notorious' nature my expectations were high. And in deed in many respects this is a good book. D H can obviously write some amazingly good descriptive prose and his style has a modern feeling yet classic style - this is most engaging. He introduces rounded and consistent characters and in the case of Kate, the protagonist, and Cipriano the pair work well together.

The story is that Kate, a youthful middle aged widow travelling in Mexico, gets entwined in the revival of the cult of Quetzalcoatl (the plumed serpent). The leader Ramon and his army backer Cipriano are attracted to Kate and vice versa and both perhaps have changing motives throughout the story. Carlota, Ramon's catholic wife, challenges the course of the morality of the cult. There are some revolutionary and political manoeuvrings. The book opens with a detailed bull fight with horses getting gored. Kate is slowly drawn into the cult but more to the native nature of the people; building to the undramatic conclusion, will Kate stay and who with?

So why did I dislike this book? There are so so many reasons I lose count. I'll list a few but ultimately it comes down a poorly realised story.
The Mexicans are too stereo typified as dark natives; this wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't laid on so thick. Other issues are that the revolutionary reasons for the cult are completely understated and though there is a scene of an attack and subsequent retribution, it is completely lost in the padding of the rest of the story.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written 16 Mar 2000
By D. E. W. Turner - Published on
In the area of the poetic use and the beauty of the English language, this book is well-written and certainly worthy of one's time taken in reading it. The language and the imagery invoked is breath-taking. In the area of subject matter, it is rather unique. An Irish woman journeys to Mexico just after the Mexican Revolution and becomes involved with two men who have taken it upon themselves to return Mexico to the religion of Quetzalcoatl and Huitzilopochtli. She joins them to become the First Woman of Malintzi and wife of the First Man of Huitzilopochtli. However, in the area of social language, the book is a product of its time. The Mexican people -- and all "dark" people -- are the objects of particularly malignant language, which I found objectionable. As an historian, I can place the book in its proper perspective, however, and recommend it as a good read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Racism, misogyny, anti-Catholic Fascism in Mexico? 9 Sep 2012
By Nik de Santa Fe - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read nearly all of Lawrence's novels; Plumed Serpent is rather different than the others. The language, syntax, and phrasing in PS is not so definitively the authorial voice of a cultured Englishman. In PS, the two male characters are charismatic Mexicans; the female surging between these two strong men is an Irish woman transplanted to early 20th Century Mexico. The language is very Americanized here, even though none of the characters are USA-Americans, while DHL makes much of Mexico being American -- as in "the American continent" -- and not European.

DHL clearly was wary, perhaps even frightened, of Mexicans and what he repeatedly refers to, ominously, as their "black, center-less eyes." For DHL this meant it was impossible to know what the Mexicans were thinking, or feeling, if they were (or weren't) in fact doing either. I doubt that this novel, were it new, would be published today: it would be pronounced racist and Feminists would deem it misogynistic, as the strong, independent female protagonist seems really just need to be sexually overpowered by dark, native men. (One might want to recall that a close American friend of DHL and Freda, the white female artist Mabel Dodge, who gave Freda a ranch near Taos, New Mexico, married a local New Mexican native American Indian--Red Indian, in the words of DHL.) When the book was originally published, the controversy was about it being Fascist. It is most certainly anti-Catholic. This being DHL, male skin is well in evidence, of course, in this case brown rather than pale white.

There is a fair amount of Mexican native-Indian-gods-worshiping DHL poetry, if you like that sort of thing; if not, it is easy to skip over; it's man-cave kind of mumbo jumbo, though beautiful too. I presume (and intend to investigate) the scenes of native Mexican Indians stripping Catholic churches and burning the "idols" from within are fact-based. Another unusual thing: there is real shoot-'em-up (or slit their throats) violence here, though not much nor presented squeamishly.

On the whole: something unexpected and unlikely from DHL...but quite readable too, a page-turner, as it were.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars grand reading 4 July 2014
By flaviarasendyll - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
history!!! the best that you'll read of those times and those people.
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my favorite DH Lawrence 2 Jun 2014
By Nancy F Mills - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Just couldn't get through all the Mexico-bashing and for some reason the dialogue irritated me. Maybe will try it when in a different mood!
By Ross A. - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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