Ham On Rye - D.H.Lawrence (1 Viewer)

(this thread is in the books-section, 'cause of its reference to 'Ham', maybe it should be in the 'things *not* Bukowski'-section, since the question aims at another author. Anyway ...)

In 'HAM ON RYE', chapter 35 (p.151f in my edition) Buk says about one of his first discoveries in the world of literature:

"I opened the book at random and began reading. It was about a man at a piano. How false it seemed at first. But I kept reading. The man at the piano was troubled. His mind was saying things. Dark and curious things. The lines on the page were pulled tight, like a man screaming, but not 'Joe, where are you?' More like Joe, where is anything? This Lawrence of the tight and bloody line. I had never been told about him. Why the secret? Why wasn't he advertised?"

Now my question:
Does ANY one know, what book or story that was? (and maybe even what chapter/page it is, Buk is referring to?) I'd be VERY interested in having a look at this!
Thank you a lot!
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Moderator
Founding member
D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence is often among the authors Bukowski mentions when he speaks about his time spent in libraries in the 1930s and 40s. I know he says he liked his poetry and I think from reading some of Bukowski's later letters to John Martin he was pleased about Martin's decision to republish some out of print Lawrence poetry. (The current Black Sparrow books still has a volume of Lawrence's poetry in print).

Perhaps I should know more about this Lawrence fellow (he was born in Eastwood which is about 6 miles from here), but sadly I don't know much about his writing. He is generally more famous for his controversial prose works such as The Rainbow and Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Anyway, the author in question is surely David Herbert Lawrence.

Any Lawrence experts around? Someone wake John Martin up :D
 
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justine

stop the penistry
one of the worst books i have ever read is D.H. Lawrence's "Women In Love". i had to read it for a lit paper; i think i got about 100 pages in before i completely gave up. i can't remember the last time i felt such an absolute hatred towards a book. it's still sitting on my bookshelf, and i keep telling myself i should give it another go and actually finish it before i form any judgment of it... but i just cannot bring myself to do it. there is so much incredibly great literature out there, and so little time to read it, why waste time on a book i will most likely still hate even after a second attempt?
 

bmcg

Founding member
The only Lawrence book that I have read is Sons and Lovers - sorry roni I don't recall a scene with a man playing a piano in it - I am incredible glad I did, I would recommend this book to anyone - the descriptions of the abuse faced by the family from the alcoholic patriarch I feel would have resonated with Bukowski - I know that Bukowski's own father was not a "drinker' but I couldn't help but think that Bukowski may have saw something of his own childhood/adolescence being played out in the novel. Lawrence is a gifted writer, though describing a different set of social attitudes/rules, a different time and place I agree with Bukowski that his writing was "tight' and he managed to draw me in and I certainly wasn't bored. Again though this is only my opinion, someone else out there may loath it but if you haven't read it, I at least would say to give it a go.
 
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Funny I was driving into work today listening to Buk's poem about Lawerence on the Underwater Poetry CD . He likened Lawerence to piss or if memeory serves me correct piss snobbery.

It could be this
>and Josephine was making tea, Robert played Bach on the piano--the pianola, rather. The chairs and lounge were in a half-circle round the fire. The party threw off their wraps and sank deep into this expensive comfort of modern bohemia. They needed the Bach to take away the bad taste that Aida had left in their mouths. They needed the whiskey and curacao to rouse their spirits. They needed the profound comfort in which to sink away from the world. All the men, except Aaron, had been through the war in some way or other. But here they were, in the old setting exactly, the old bohemian routine.
In any case there is also an amazing site you may want to try.
(It's how I found the above)
http://www.online-literature.com/booksearch.php
Go to the site type in piano then prepare to drill down.
 
Besides Celine and Fante I couldn't get into any of his 'recommendations.' (Sherwood Anderson especially). However, Turgenev's Hunting sketches, are some of the best short stories.
 
one of the worst books i have ever read is D.H. Lawrence's "Women In Love". i had to read it for a lit paper; i think i got about 100 pages in before i completely gave up. i can't remember the last time i felt such an absolute hatred towards a book. it's still sitting on my bookshelf, and i keep telling myself i should give it another go and actually finish it before i form any judgment of it... but i just cannot bring myself to do it. there is so much incredibly great literature out there, and so little time to read it, why waste time on a book i will most likely still hate even after a second attempt?

funny i read that recently and didn't think it was unbearably bad, i was mostly indifferent towards it but there were a few good bits (like birkin's tirade's against society and love and the description of gerald crich's dying father). it could be rather dry though and if you felt that way after 100 pages i wouldn't recommend trying again. it did leave me curious to read more of lawrence
 

justine

stop the penistry
it's no longer on my bookshelf: i traded it in at a secondhand bookstore, along with a bunch of other crap books;)
 
You know , I'm in complete agreement, I can't remember exactly what I tried to read by him but had the same reaction.

I've checked out just about everything Buk liked and I either hated or was indifferent, to it. Except Celine.
 
Celine's "Journey to the End of the Night," is really good, but it's the only good Celine book there is, in my opinion. Fante, as well, is really good. Ask the Dust is fantastic, and West of Rome is a great little book as well. Although, I'm not a huge fan of the rest of Buk's recommendations. I'm not big on Hemmingway, and Lawrence is just okay for me. Never read any Sherwood Anderson. Vallejo is really good, very gritty shit. That was the guy that Bukowski always mentions that he starved to death.
 

mjp

Founding member
I don't think so. Nowhere in this is there any sense of, "The lines on the page were pulled tight, like a man screaming, but not 'Joe, where are you?' More like Joe, where is anything?" This is just weepy nostalgia.

---

Lawrence David Herbert ( DH Lawrence) Poem

Piano

Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.
 
I know, I never liked the poem but cant think of any other DHL work with a piano. I think its likely Buk is either misremebering what he read of Lawrence, or who knows, having a laugh since as you say this is very schmaltzy stuff


But Buk does say "how false it seemed at first.." which could be a tip off that it IS this poem...I also remember suddenly his comment about DHL, that when he first discovered the library, he found Josephine Lawrence`s book "Bow Down to Wood and Stone" and he liked the title but the real discovery was the OTHER Lawrence whose books were right next to Ms. Josephine`s
 
Aaron's Rod

Hi Roni,

I put this together for you because of your many contributions to this forum over the months.

I'd like to put in a good word for Lawrence. I've not read a lot of him, but I have read Lady Chatterley's Lover, Women in Love, Aaron's Rod, various poems, and his Selected Letters. He can cut right to the bone the same as Bukowski: "Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot."

He had a mystical reverence for natural sexual expression and love: "If I take my whole, passionate, spiritual and physical love to the woman who in return loves me, that is how I serve God. And my hymn and my game of joy is my work." At his best Lawrence's works represent a return to the theme of liberating the "natural man" - the natural instincts within everyone; what is healthy, holy and alive.

He liberated the English language from its Victorian prudery - long overdue - and was censored for his liberal use of f**k and c**t in Lady Chatterley's Lover.

He's the only writer and artist that I know of who was ever banned for not only his books but his paintings. That's how much of a threat he was to the conventions of the time, and he was considered more a pornographer than a literary figure for most of his career. His reputation as a great writer was largely enhanced because of his impact on other writers who understood and defended him. His writings had tremendous impact on Anais Nin and Henry Miller. Both wrote books on him: D.H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study, by Nin; The World of Lawrence: A Passionate Appreciation, by Miller.

It was Nin who was a true Lawrence pioneer and she was the one who opened Miller's eyes to Lawrence's greatness. The film Henry and June - about the love affair between the two writers - has their interest in Lawrence as a background theme, and this is one of my favorite movies of all time for capturing the literary adventurism of the early 30's and what it was like for Miller to be an American expatriate living in France, where he finally discovered his own voice as a writer in Tropic of Cancer. At first, Miller disliked Lawrence and considered his attitude toward sex as that of a child. He soon came to change his mind.

I strongly suggest that anyone who wants to understand Lawrence as a man should start immediately with his Selected Letters. He can lay the words down on the page as hard as anyone - no superficial fluff! - and the reader can see him directly rather than trying to discern the man through his novels, short stories or poems - sometimes hard to penetrate because of their dense prose. He is what I call a "wisdom writer," and his letters are full of deep insights into the human condition, especially that of male/female relations and sexuality as a mode of profound self-transformation - almost like it was a religion.

I would bet my bottom dollar that the work Bukowski is referring to with the piano reference is from Aaron's Rod and not from any poem. It's my favorite work of his because there's a rich psychological undertone between the main characters - Lawrence at his mature best. There are numerous "piano" references:

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=4520

Much of the story takes place in a densely rich musical setting. But beware - there's a seductive, hypnotic pull to the book.

Good luck and I hope you find the reference you're looking for. I think Bukowski's comments may not be an exact quote from Aaron's Rod; Bukowski was merely putting it in his own way and he's referring to the overall mood of the story. To me, it fits perfectly. All of Lawrence's writings are available free on-line.
 
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i'm reading lady chatterley's lover right now and ENJOYING it immensely.
and i could see how it might relate to Buk. just the unconventionality of it.
 

Johannes

Founding member
I always thought the coolest thing in Lady Chatterley's Lover the reference to Huxleys Brave New World before that was out. Huxley must have given him the manuscript to read, regarding their relationship, and Lawrence cited it without naming author or book-title.

Liking both authors, I somewhat liked that.
 
loved DH lawrence, but also felt he was exhausting. havent read anything past lady c and some of his poems.
other than that i have loved most of bukowskis recomendations, especially aderson. read stoy of an egg. hes one of the best.
the only guy buk liked that i couldnt get into was robinson jeffers. i just dont get it. couldnt get into gerald locklin either. to me they just werent exciting. but this also makes bukowskis character all the more interesting to me. it shows that he wasnt just looking for other brutal sons of bitches, that his tastes were broad. i wish my tastes were that broad. most of the time i just want to read about booze and pussy.
 
Harris & Rumi

... i wish my tastes were that broad.
most of the time i just want to read about booze and pussy.

Booze and pussy? Nothing easier... especially if you want it with
a touch of class and a dose of worldly wisdom.

Try My Life and Loves by Frank Harris, in five volumes - one of
the greatest literary cocksmen of all time... I'm sure you're already
familiar with The World of Sex by Miller. (Miller seduces his
mother-in-law while on honeymoon with his new wife.) Olympia Press
has these available as downloads.

If you ever want a complete change of pace from b & p, (recommended), try
The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks - pure inspiration and dynamite.
 
Fantastic thread and the main reason I visit...
Brilliant debate....

I love Lawrance's work. I've not read a lot of his poetry, found it a little twee...
Sons and Lovers is largly autobiographical and examines the contrasting relationship between DH's parents: a rather middle class lady and his father a hard working class, heavy drinking Coal miner. And we all know and love Lady Chatterly..... Lawrance smashed through the closet sexuality of middle England and said CUNT!!!!

DH certainly challenged the bounderies. I don't like all the Authors Buk recommended, but why should we? I didn't get much from Fante, Hated Kerouac,
loved Carver.

I like the way Buk used to demolish some of the highbrow attitudes to so called 'Classics' in literature... 'War and Peace' and such like.... It didn't touch Buk and it didn't touch millions others..... 'I just don't get it' he said in that wonderful poetic voice he had....

What about a thread on the sound of Buk's voice.....?

To me he EVEN spoke Poetically.
 
im reading chatterley's lover right now. and it's .. err .. not like bukowski where you get so into it. but it's good. i can't say it's bad.
 
I think what appealed to Buk was DHL's attact on social hypocrisy and sexual honesty. Really there was little comparable to read in public libraries along those lines in the 30s/40s. Was DHL freely available in US libraries? Presumably Chatterley was banned? When did that become available in the USA?
 
are you serious that it was banned in the US? until what time?

its not even that controversial! a lonely lady talking about her orgasms. big deal. lawrence wrote about sensitivity and sexuality in a time that was deeply dominated by the cold rational mind. and if chatterley's lover sounds controversial, someone should read margaret laurence's diviners, which was written maybe just a little bit later than chatterley and is a LOT more explicit.
 
Well, I don't know about the US but in the UK it was banned until 1960 (?) or so. Well, there was a censored version. Otherwise you went to Paris and bought a copy (Olympia, perhaps?) and smuggled it through customs. I don't know if it was banned in the US. Part of the reason it was banned was because of class not sex. It was more shocking for the establishment to read about inter-class relationships than the sex itself. That was entirely hypocritical because the men were visiting lower class prostitutes but because it was a woman.....
 
i've only read LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER and thought it was just amazing. real beautiful. i took me a while to read but i'm also a slow reader. i bought SONS AND LOVERS but haven't picked it up yet.

so far, i've only read a few of the authors Hank spoke so highly of. i was already a fan of Kafka's short stories, but i found the novel THE TRIAL very hard to stay interested in. i've only read one Dostoevsky book, NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND, and i enjoyed it mostly. i tried reading the DOUBLE, but lost interest in it. my father bought me THE BROTHERS KAROMAZOV, but so far i haven't gotten around to finishing the first chapter. it interests me, but that old literature is hard on my attention span (damn you TV and Video Games!). I've also read Hamsun's THE HUNGER. i don't remember Hank referring to that book specifically, but i know he meantions Hamsun in his poetry time to time. Hemingway is okay. read a couple. good stuff, but nothing i'd go crazy for. Fante's ASK THE DUSK is probably one of my favorite novels. just like CHATTERLEY it is very well done and full of life and a charismatic energy. the movie sucked, though.
 
Ham on Rye-D.H. Lawrence

He is almost certainly refrring to Lawrence's powerful poem "Piano"--there are a couple of versions of the poem; below is one--

Piano

Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cozy parlor, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamor
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamor
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

1918
 
I remember reading Lawrence's The White Peacock when I was in my teens and thinking it was pretty deep. I reread it recently and, while I still enjoyed it, it didn't generate that same feeling of awe. But then I'm that much older and that much more crabbit, and therefore not as interested in the whole tragic love thing...

It's one of those books you have to break out the tools and excavate around - Lawrence was heavy into Schopenhauer and his theories about love.

PS: Two Schopenhauer links in my first two posts. Will that get me banned?
 

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