Perspective

Little Aristocracies of Our Own

How beastly the bourgeois is,
Especially the male of the species

D.H. Lawrence’s lines are still quoted, though most often by writers who know nothing else of his poetry.  It is taken for granted that Lawrence was right to contemn the “middle-class values” of the whited sepulchers who pretend to virtues and tastes they do not possess.  The male bourgeois may be good to look at, but

Let him meet a new emotion, let him be faced with another man’s need,

let him come home to a bit of moral difficulty, let life face him with a new demand on his understanding

and then watch him go soggy, like a wet meringue.

Watch him turn into a mess, either a fool or a bully.

It is perhaps not unfair to Lawrence to wonder if, by “new emotion,” he meant something like the desire to seduce another man’s wife, or if, by “a new demand on his understanding,” he intended to convey something like a revolution in which people like Lawrence (who had sympathy for “another man’s need”) displaced the well-dressed games-playing sons of bankers and brewers.

Lawrence seems to have had a horror of ordinary good looks and decent conventional grooming:

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