the ghastly subaqueous life of our fellow-men, in the submarine jungle

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(page 393, chapter 17) by DH Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(background: Connie received a letter from Clifford, saying:he was disturbed by the gossip about Mellors, and he doubted the existence of the world ..……" )

But sometimes the soul does come up, shoots like a kittiwake into the light, with ecstasy, after having preyed on the submarine depths. It is our mortal destiny, I suppose, to prey upon the ghastly subaqueous life of our fellow-men, in the submarine jungle of mankind. But our immortal destiny is to escape, once we have swallowed our swimmy catch, up again into the bright ether, bursting out from the surface of Old Ocean into real light. Then one realizes one’s eternal nature.

I feel the whole paragraph is talking about how human fight against each other for money, high social position and fame. And Clifford thought the winners could enjoy the light/brightness in the ether/sky(maybe Clifford himself hoped to be such a winner).
But how should I understand the blue sentence please?
I rephrase it this way:
I suppose it's our mortal destiny(=the destiny that human would die) to kill (=prey on) the ghost-like underwater(=ghastly subaqueous)life of our human beings(=fellow-men), in the submarine jungle(=a place filled with fierce fight in the dark, like a in a forest with dangerous animals in).

Thank you in advance
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    It is our mortal destiny, -> it is the destiny/nature of all humans
    to prey upon -> to live by feeding upon (here, figurative, meaning 'to take an salacious interest in')
    the ghastly subaqueous life of our fellow-men -> the horrible misfortunes in the lives of other people ('subaqueous' is only used to extend the metaphor, and has no real meaning)
    in the submarine jungle of mankind. -> in a society in which each person is constantly under threat of something bad happening to them. ('Submarine' is only used to extend the metaphor, and has no real meaning. 'Jungle' - a metaphor for 'a dangerous and unpredictable place'.)
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you very very much.
    It is our mortal destiny, -> it is the destiny/nature of all humans
    Maybe mortal destiny has double meanings:)
    physically die and nature of all humans) , because Clifford thought future human would be physically wasting(I regard it as physically die) and spiritually ascending(I have searched this out from Chapter 16, according to your reminding in another thread)

    And now I feel subaqueous and submarine both stress the dark and dangerous world filled with fierce fights, which were done secretly.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    the ghastly subaqueous life of our fellow-men -> the horrible misfortunes in the lives of other people
    Now I feel ghastly life is likely to mean the grey life, because Clifford thought people are weird, scaly-clad submarine fauna(submarine life is surely grey)


    Is that possible as well?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Maybe mortal destiny has double meanings:) physically die and nature of all humans)
    It is both of these simultaneously - we are humans and we die.

    As nouns, "a mortal" and "an immortal" are two of the classes of living beings: mortals = humans (who, as you say, die); immortals = gods (who do not die.) In the poetic/literary/religious sense (that Sir Clifford is using here), "mortal" is distinguished from "living" and is restricted to humans who, upon death, have a "soul" that continues to live immortally.

    The adjective "mortal" cannot become a noun in this sense: animals and plants and other living things cannot be not described this way (again, in this sense,) because Christianity teaches that they do not have souls, and thus when they die, that is the end.

    Thus we have mortal, in this sense, as a direct synonym for human.

    The adjective "mortal" in "mortal destiny", in this sense, = mankind's destiny - the fate of mankind/humans.

    Now I feel ghastly life is likely to mean the grey life, because Clifford thought people are weird, scaly-clad submarine fauna(submarine life is surely grey)
    No, not at all!. "Ghastly" literally means "like a ghost" but it is only very, very rarely used in this sense. It is mainly used to mean horrible; disgusting; vile; bad, awful, etc. - "Ghastly," is stereotypically, a word commonly used by the upper classes of Lawrence's day, for anything they did not like or approve of. It is still current although less common, and is still commoner in the speech of the upper classes.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    1. But sometimes the soul does come up, shoots like a kittiwake into the light, with ecstasy, after having preyed on the submarine depths. It is our mortal destiny, I suppose, to prey upon the ghastly subaqueous life of our fellow-men, in the submarine jungle of mankind. But our immortal destiny is to escape, once we have swallowed our swimmy catch, up again into the bright ether, bursting out from the surface of Old Ocean into real light. Then one realizes one’s eternal nature.
      I feel the whole paragraph is talking about how human fight against each other for money, high social position and fame. And Clifford thought the winners could enjoy the light/brightness in the ether/sky(maybe Clifford himself hoped to be such a winner).
    I don't see 'prey upon' as killing and I see no reference at all to 'killing', 'fighting and struggling' for money, fame and status, and no idea of 'being a winner'.
    I think Paul used the term 'feeding on' and this is how 'prey upon' should be read. Feeding images are often used to express great interest in something.

    To my mind, Clifford is referring to the interest most humans take in the private lives of others and in scandals, especially when sex is involved. In those days, there was the added element that sexual practices were never talked about in public, as well as sinful aspects in the eyes of the church and criminal offence in the eyes of the state, both of which condemned all that was not conventional heterosexual sex. In other words, all the attitudes that caused the publication of
    Lady Chatterley's Lover
    to be banned as obscene in the UK for thirty years after it was first printed in Europe.
    From Sir Clifford's point of view as a mine owner, there was also the question of class in that he really didn't want to know anything about the life of the working class whom he thoroughly despised and whom he happily exploited for his personal gain, causing them great suffering and misery.
    All the same, he hadn't told Mrs Bolton to stop talking about it when she first did. At first, he was interested despite himself.

    And on top of all that, he's being exposed to an aspect of life, the expression of sexuality, from which he is by his impotence excluded. No wonder he prefers to focus on the intellect and enjoy reading pseudo-scientific and philosophical ideas about humans evolving into non physical beings.

    Incidentally, it's thought that when DHL was writing this, his own sex life had ceased. He had become impotent as a well-known symptom of the tuberculosis which would soon kill him. His wife had taken a lover.


    I rephrase it this way:
    I suppose it's our mortal destiny(=the destiny that human would die) to kill (=prey on) the ghost-like underwater(=ghastly subaqueous)life of our human beings(=fellow-men), in the submarine jungle(=a place filled with fierce fight in the dark, like a in a forest with dangerous animals in).
    This is how I might express the idea in the simplest terms, taking out the metaphors:

    I suppose it's human nature to be interested in the ghastly lives of others, in this extremely complicated and difficult world.

    If my comments are no help to you, please have the good manners not to tell me so and spoil the pleasure I have had thinking about this difficult writing, and the time and trouble I have taken to share my thoughts with you, in the hope they might help.



     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Your interpretation overthrows my comprehension of these paragraphs(Of course, I believe native English speakers much more than myself), but I like it:thumbsup::thumbsup:. Luckily, I have rebuilt a new logic structure between these paragraphs.
    Now I feel the dark ocean symbolizes human secret privacy(everything is hidden in the ocean), men and women are just fish, which are seldom exposed to the public. In addition, the ocean stands for physical part of humanity, and the ether stands for the spiritual part of it. Clifford disliks the physical part, especially sex-related gossip, so he escapes to the ether to grasp, and even thinks the ether is a place for immortal human species, who are mainly spiritual human beings.

    I don't see 'prey upon' as killing and I see no reference at all to 'killing', 'fighting and struggling' for money, fame and status, and no idea of 'being a winner'.
    I think Paul used the term 'feeding on' and this is how 'prey upon' should be read. Feeding images are often used to express great interest in something.
    But as for prey on, here is a link:
    “preyed on”is potentially sinister, hinting at exploitative, repressive relationship between landowner and workers (bellow the smaller words of the link). it seems to me that exploitative, repressive imply money, fame and status. In other words, Clfford's mental/spiritual life not only refers to spiritual intimacy, but also refers to mental happiness based on business success.
    And I feel it's hard to understand immortal destiny/eternal nature is for gossip and human secrets. Therefore, it seems to me that
    prey on is like to refer to the struggle for success as well.:D
    If my comments are no help to you, please have the good manners not to tell me so and spoil the pleasure I have had thinking about this difficult writing, and the time and trouble I have taken to share my thoughts with you, in the hope they might help.
    Really sorry. Maybe you think I was once rude to you. But I never mean it, never. If I gave you such a feeling that's because my poor English conveys a wrong meaning(another reason might be cultural differences). :pOn the contrary, I respect you very very much, and even miss you if I can't see you for a time.
    Best wishes for you and other friends, once again
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top