The Man Who Died: Overview

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Author: Grace Eckley
Editor: D. L. Kirkpatrick
Date: 1991
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 966 words

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Mark Schorer, in his D.H. Lawrence (1968), expressed the belief that in The Man Who Died—written just before Lawrence's death—Lawrence had said ``what he had almost all his life wanted to say.'' Blending eastern and western myths, balancing the familiar oppositions of submission and domination, Lawrence in this novella focuses his theme of physical regeneration in the most spiritual of beings, the risen Christ. Although Lawrence refrains from using the names Christ or Jesus and calls Mary Magdalene Madeleine, he adheres to the gospel of St. John, with the man who died emerging from the sepulchre, meeting Mary Magdalene and the disciples, and ending not ascended into heaven but living to do ``many other things'' on earth.

At first titled The Escaped Cock, the story opens with a very virile and splendid cock—a Christian symbol of the resurrection—owned by a peasant and tied by the leg, just as the man who died awakens painfully, also tied with bandages and linen, and bereft of the former ideals; they have died with him. The cock's crowing to the spring dawn animates him, and he takes recuperative shelter with the peasant. The cock, banishing the ghostly night of death, helped the god of medicine Aesculapius to cure the sick; and the man who died, watching it, begins a repudiation of his former teaching while he takes inspiration from the cock's virility.

Having known the spiritual half of life, the man who died must come...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1420004815