amid a whole sapping of energy and malice

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Senior Member
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(the last paragraph but 6) by Lawrence(the University of Adelaide,here):
The very stale air of the colliery was better than oxygen to him. It gave him a sense of power, power. He was doing something: and he was going to do something. He was going to win, to win: not as he had won with his stories, mere publicity, amid a whole sapping of energy and malice. But a man’s victory.

What's the meaning of the part in blue, especially "malice" please?
I feel it means "(he won his publicity), running out his own energy and getting malice from others(rather than he gave malice to others).

Is that right please?
Thank you in advance
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ... amid a whole sapping of energy and malice. = in an unemotional/uninvolved/theoretical manner in which the workers were seen as stupid or lazy.

    Lawrence is describing Sir Clifford's earlier character in which he spoke of matters in a detached, theoretical way; a way in which he enjoyed demonstrating his intellectual superiority by criticizing the ideas/solutions/proposals/opinions, etc of others without any practical knowledge or understanding of the real-life circumstances or involvement in them - he had pontificated - he had spoken in a dogmatic and authoritative manner and without emotion.

    This was "energy-sapping and malicious" in the sense that the energies (of those opposing his ideas or who had had a genuinely good idea, only to see that their opinions were dismissed) were depleted and malice had been created between the workers and Sir Clifford.


    Senior Member
    Thank you. Your viewpoint is very fresh for me. I will think about it over and over again.
    Is there another possibility because of the following reasons?
    Just now I reread Chapter 2 and extracted those words:
    Still he was ambitious. He had taken to writing stories; curious, very personal stories about people he had known. Clever, rather spiteful, and yet, in some mysterious way, meaningless. (I regard "spiteful" as malice)

    Clifford was almost morbidly sensitive about these stories. He wanted everyone to think them good, of the best, NE PLUS ULTRA. They appeared in the most modern magazines, and were praised and blamed as usual. But to Clifford the blame was torture, like knives goading him. It was as if the whole of his being were in his stories. (I regarded this as another malice from other writers or reviewers)

    Connie helped him as much as she could. At first she was thrilled. He talked everything over with her monotonously,insistently, persistently, and she had to respond with all her might. It was as if her whole soul and body and sex had to rouse up and pass into theme stories of his. This thrilled her and absorbed her. (I regard this as "sapping of energy", and in fact, Clifford almost spent all his energy writing at that time)
    In all, malice includes the one from Clifford himself and the one from other writers or literature reviewers. And energy-sapping includes his own energy and others' energy.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I read it as saying that his success in the literary world and his efforts to achieve it had sapped his energy and had sunk him in an atmosphere of malice (backbiting and jealousy among writers perhaps?).
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