The wallowing in private emotion, the utter abasement of his manly self

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(page 431, chapter 19) by DH Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(background: Clifford now usually acted as a child, kissing Mrs Bolton's breasts, while Mrs Bolton was like the Magna Mater, full of power and potency, having the great blond child-man under her will and her stroke entirely. But when Clifford was…)

When he was out among men, seeking his own ends, and ‘making good’ his colliery workings, he had an almost uncanny shrewdness, hardness, and a straight sharp punch. It was as if his very passivity and prostitution to the Magna Matergave him insight into material business affairs, and lent him a certain remarkable inhuman force. The wallowing in private emotion, the utter abasement of his manly self, seemed to lend him a second nature, cold, almost visionary, business-clever. In business he was quite inhuman.

The part in blue is quite confusing to me. Now I rephrase it as follows:
The enjoying/indulging in(=wallowing) the intimate relationship with Mrs Bolton(=private emotion), (and) the compete lack(=utter abasement) of his manhood(=manly self), seemed to give(=lend) him a second habit(=nature), (which is ) cold, almost visionaly, (and) business-clever.

Is that right please?
Thank you in advance
 
  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    "Abasement" does not mean "lack", and "manly self" is not quite the same as "manhood." Furthermore, one's "nature" is not a "habit." Start by looking up the meaning of to "abase" something, and after you have the definition, we can continue.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you.
    Start by looking up the meaning of to "abase" something, and after you have the definition, we can continue
    I know abase means low in rand/prestige/esteem, but it seems to me that he was not a real man(=manly self?) at all, as a sexually impotent man. What's more, in a Chinese version, abasement is translated as disappearing. That's why I chose lack as it's meaning.
    Furthermore, one's "nature" is not a "habit."
    I meant when something seemes to be someone's second nature, the person usually does the thing habitually, as if it were a habit of the person.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I know abase means low in rand/prestige/esteem,
    Abase is a verb, not an adjective; and it means to lower (not "low") someone (usually oneself) in rank, dignity or honor. Think of how officials used to behave before the Emperor of China when they performed the kowtow -- they would kneel on the ground and knock their heads against the floor, literally "lowering" themselves before him.

    In Clifford's case, he is a man, and so his "self" (Clifford as a person) is a "manly self". A "manly" self would normally be domineering and strong, but in his "worship" of Mrs. Bolton as the personification of the Magna Mater, he is abasing himself (= his manly self) in the same way someone might prostrate himself before a ruler or a god.

    it seems to me that he was not a real man(=manly self?) at all, as a sexually impotent man.
    I don't read a sexual component into this at all; I read it as entirely an emotional matter. Clifford is giving up his role as a domineering aristocratic adult male and taking on the role of a protected child.


    I meant when something seemes to be someone's second nature, the person usually does the thing habitually, as if it were a habit of the person.
    Here the term means something more like "a second (and different) personality."
     
    Last edited:

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Wow, you really make it very clear.
    But is there an and, which has been left out, before the utter abasement of his manly self ?
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I don't think so, but you don't need one. The idea is that "the wallowing in private emotion" = "the utter abasement of his manly self", in the same way that in the sentence "Jane Marple, the old lady next door, called to him from her garden", you understand that "Jane Marple" = "the old lady next door."
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    I get it. But there's still one question left:how can The wallowing in private emotion, the utter abasement of his manly self lead to the the result that he became cold, almost visionary, (and) business-clever? It's hard for me to understand the logic relation between the cause and effect(or, I don't think the cause can result in the effect).
    And does the private passion refer to secret passion (which was so ridiculous that they had to keep it a secret), or the passion which they liked and didn't want to share with others?
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    The idea is that Clifford is suffering from a psychiatric disorder, caused by the shock of Connie's decision to leave him and her relationship with Mellors. He is in effect behaving like two different people, extremely different. One is the helpless baby in his relationship with Mrs Bolton, the other public persona is the ruthless unfeeling business man. The psychiatric medical term for this sort of mental state is called 'dissociation'.
    One does not lead to the other: they are both symptoms.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    The part in blue is quite confusing to me. Now I rephrase it as follows:
    The enjoying/indulging in(=wallowing) the intimate relationship with Mrs Bolton(=private emotion)
    And does the private passion refer to secret passion (which was so ridiculous that they had to keep it a secret), or the passion which they liked and didn't want to share with others
    These consideration are not relevant.

    'Private' refers to what goes on privately, that nobody knows about except any others who are involved, in contrast to public behaviour which all can observe.
    Your private life is nobody else's business. Mrs Bolton is the only other person who knows about Clifford's abnormal behaviour with her. They most definitely are not going to talk about it! It's very possible that Clifford is not even aware of what he is doing when he's with her and can't remember.

    It's not 'ridiculous' - it's very sad indeed. Clifford is a metaphor for the state of the upper classes, as viewed by Lawrence. Emotionally stunted, sexually impotent men, ruthless exploiters of the working class.
     
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