Dialogism, Free Indirect Style and Irony as an Artistic Method of D.H. Lawrence's Short Story, The Lovely Lady: Based on the Problem of the Interpretation of a Fragment

The present article aims to analyse the problems of translation of David Herbert Lawrence’s short story The Lovely Lady. Yet, before we start analysing directly that very fragment, it would be more appropriate to refer to the attitude of the British author towards the characters of his own works and outline the position of the writer in this regard. Lawrence’s literary works fall into the development stage of the novel where the author's voice was lost in comparison with his characters; hence, the author and the characters found themselves on equal grounds. As a result, the novel got a different character of being dialogical, and the writings of Lawrence, which many scholars study within the framework of Bakhtin’s Dialogism, is demonstrated through free indirect style (FIS) [Sotirova, 2013:21 - 53]. This style is often referred to as free indirect speech (FIS), free indirect thought (FIT) and free indirect discourse (FID). Its main feature is that actions or speech are perceived from the position of the character and, although in particular time and space the author stands behind every expression or sentence; Throughout the entire novel we see the discourse through the prism of the character alone. [Verdonk, 2010: 48 - 50]. Dialogism is expressed precisely through this: one word echoes two voices -  the author’s and the character’s.

From the Linguistic point of view, free indirect style is a mixture of direct and indirect speech elements. In order to clarify its essence, we should turn to specific examples, which Roy Pascal uses in his work while speaking about the history of FIS and which are also quoted by Sotirova: Direct Speech – ‘He stopped and said to himself, ‘Is that the car I saw here yesterday?’ Indirect Speech: ‘He stopped and asked himself if that was the car he had seen there the day before.’ Free Indirect Speech: ‘He stopped. Was that the car he had seen here yesterday?’ It is clear, that Free Indirect Speech is a mixture of direct speech (here, yesterday) and indirect speech (was, he had seen) elements. Thus this combination gives the impression of dialogism and the co-existence of the author and the character simultaneously: In places where one would expect the adverbs of time and space to be selected from the perspective of the author (there, the day before), they are offered from the perspective of the character (here, yesterday) [Sotirova, 2011:18 - 19]. Although in terms it is rather hard to determine, where the author’s voice ends and the character’s starts. These two actors in the linguistic structure of the work often become “one flesh and blood”. For example, it is studied and confirmed that it is easier to distinguish the voice of the author from that of the characters in the earlier novel by Lawrence The Trespasser, than it is in his relatively late and stylistically more sophisticated work Sons and Lovers [Sotirova, 2011: 170].

Before considering the relation to the above presented translation of the introduction, one should clarify the connection between the style chosen by Lawrence as his artistic style of writing and his own moral background. Lawrence in his book Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays, writes: “Morality in the novel is the trembling instability of the balance. When the novelist puts his thumb in the scale, to pull down the balance to his own predilection, that is immorality.” [Sotirova, 2011:58]. This generates the belief of Lawrence, as a creator and a human being - ideas are not to be measured by a comprehensive objective rationale; they are always the product of personal  experience, and comes into existence through that. As Sotirova suggested, this is the opinion that makes Lawrence appear like his contemporary Bakhtin, who also considered that ideas, as abstract entities do not present absolute truths [Sotirova, 2011:59].

In the process of revealing his own vision on the author and authorship there are two major things important for Lawrence: 1) The writer ought not to occupy a high moral position; 2) any truth, which he decides to outline, should come through his characters based on their personal experiences. Thus, by his moral background Lawrence once more reveals his being the influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher, who while discussing truth and morality develops similar ideas.

Finally, in terms of translation, it is important to understand how the Lawrence’s perception of the word is evaluated as the writer’s main tool: For this writer the word presents a “battlefield” for the different interpretations coming from different people [Sotirova, 2011: 60]. Thus, while translating Lawrence’s works, which primarily involves the interpretation of the original text, we must identify which word is voicing the opinions of this or that character. Sometimes such affiliation is so vague that it could be attributed to the author, as well as to any character. I consider the following fragment from the short story The Lovely Lady, to be an example of such a case. This is an excerpt describing the main character, Pauline Attenborough, who is an exemplary authority and financial patron of the two members of her family: her own son and her nephew and embodies a woman of supreme beauty.


“Pauline had money. But then, what was Pauline's was Pauline's, and though she could give almost lavishly, still, one was always aware of having a lovely and undeserved present made to one. [Lawrence, 1977:234]”


Asmat Lekiashvili translates this passage as follows:


“პოლინს საკმარისად ჰქონდა ფული, მაგრამ არასოდეს ივიწყებდა, რომ ეს მისი საკუთრება იყო და რაც არ უნდა ხალისით გაეჩუქებინა, ყოველთვის იგრძნობდა, რომ სასიხარულო, მაგრამ დაუმსახურებელ ძღვენს გასცემდა.” [ლორენსი, 1982:241 - 242]


The gloss translation of the extract reads as follows:


Pauline had enough money but she would never forget that it was hers. And no matter how enthusiastically she made presents, the lady always felt that the gift she had given was joyous but undeserved.  



The first thing that strikes the reader in this episode is the lexical gap between the original and the translation. While reading the Georgian text, the reader may not pay attention to this detail, because translation, considering its broader context means the correct understanding of the original. However, the scholar of interpretation Eric Donald Hirsch would say: „Validity of interpretation is not the same as inventiveness of interpretation/ Validity implies the correspondence of interpretation to a meaning which is represented by a text. [Hirsch, 1978:10]“ If it were an informative or vocative type of texts [Newmark, 1988:40-41], which can bear communicational transformation, maybe we would not have paid that much attention to it, but whilst translating literature where the authors individuality is being expressed, as Newmark would advise we should use semantic method of translation [Newmark, 1988:46]. The original does not suggest that “Pauline never forgot that it was her money”. The sentence “what was Pauline’s was Pauline’s” can be translated as follows: “Nobody forgot that this was Pauline’s money” and in the word “nobody” we can mean any character, who got a gift from Pauline.

The character through the perspective of which we should understand the words “what was Pauline’s was Pauline’s” is identified by the definitions of the noun “gift” – “Lovely and undeserved”. Interestingly enough, these two definitions refer to the giver and the recipient of the present. The first - "Lovely" - undoubtedly "Lovely Lady" – i.e. Pauline Attenborough is the giver and “undeserved” suggests the “worth” of the receiver. This mutual reference allows us to evaluate the property of Pauline from the position of the giver as well as the receiver. Thus, both Asmat Lekiashvili’s and our translations provided above are equally valid as both reflect interpretation, though none of them are acceptable, since both demonstrate inventiveness of interpretation, and do not actually provide an actual translation. A true translation in this case can be achieved by using the semantic method. According to the above-mentioned, the appropriate translation of the sentence “What was Pauline's was Pauline's” would be: “What was Pauline’s belonged to her. The end”. We think that this version of the text supports both the semantic proximity as well as its ironic nuance. At the same time, subjectivity of interpretation is being avoided – we do not specify whether it is Pauline who thinks this way or is it the receiver of the gift, but we take into account that Lawrence, due to his moral background, did not want to show his attitude in his artistic creations and therefore these words cannot be categorically attributed to the author. So, we think that the translations as well as the original must have meant to leave the freedom of interpretation to the reader.

The flaws in the translation of the passage are not limited only to the fragment analysed above. It should be noted that irony as an artistic method plays an important part in Lawrence’s works, and its loss in translation causes fading away of the writer's style. The short story The Lovely Lady is overloaded by the use of ironies. According to one version, the writer called the story “locked in an angel/witch paradigm” [Díez-Medrano, 1996: 100 (10)] and by its means he tried to destroy the generalized type of a woman. As the scholar Díez-Medrano notes: “All these parallelisms would patently indicate that Pauline does not merely encapsulate the traditional angel/witch of patriarchal ideology; more importantly, she embodies a whole tradition of polarized portrayals of women in literature and the visual arts from the Renaissance (Shakespeare/Leonardo da Vinci) to the nineteenth century (Poe, Pater/the Impressionists). One could conjecture that what is actually being ironized is not Pauline as such, but the very tradition she encapsulates, that is, an "infinite variety" of invariable women; [Díez-Medrano, 1996:99(9)].” This author also outlines that Lawrence argues through his works that women try to alter subconsciously the male beliefs about the female race. Lawrence aimed to destroy the patriarchal ideology and that is why his women represent the paradigm of angel/witch. Díez-Medrano quotes Aquien who suggested, that The Lovely Lady by Lawrence is fundamentally concerned with the "dénonciation brutale de l'artifice," in ways comparable to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and that it has a silent dialogue with Wilde— thus augmenting the intertextual force, which permeates "The Lovely Lady." Díez-Medrano also argues that there is a fundamental difference between these works. One recalls that in The Picture of Dorian Gray we are made to watch the portrait change in the course of the novel while Dorian himself remains untransformed until the very end when his whole body suddenly disintegrates. In contrast, Pauline and The Lovely Lady are inextricably woven together all the way through. In truth, the effect of Cecilia's action is not the destruction of the artifice but the smashing of the mirror, or Robert's refractory glance [Díez-Medrano, 1996:9-10 (99 – 100)]. Lawrence’s aim was to smash the patriarchal ideology through this short story and therefore his usage of irony as a means of artistic creation should definitely be shown in translation.  

While analyzing the fragment above it is noteworthy that the adjective “lovely” has an ironic connotation, and therefore the unity of the title and the text should not be destroyed in the process of translation and should be translated into Georgian by the appropriate linguistic means. 

For example, in the above-mentioned passage the phrase "lovely and undeserved present",  somehow echoes the name of the short story The Lovely Lady, therefore, it can be argued that in the Georgian translation it would be better, if the word “lovely” used in the title would be the same as the “lovely” in this sentence. As a result, the translation will enable the reader to clearly understand what the author meant and can easily imagine the irony implied in this sentence, and picture the “lovely” present from the “lovely” Pauline. Also it would add another connotations to the adjective “undeserved”, which precede the noun “present” and in the translation we get the equivalent of "lovely and undeserved present". The Georgian translation as ‘სასიხარულო’ is not identical to the English word “Lovely”. Therefore, the ironic style of the translation becomes either less or not appealing at all. As Galperin noted, irony is a stylistic method, which is based on two logical values – lexical and contextual – which oppose each other and are intertwined at the same time [Galperin, 1977: 146]. In this case, "lovely" followed by “undeserved” creates an atmosphere, where the reader understands quite well that if the present was undeserved it cannot be lovely and as a result, we perceive the antonymic sense of the word “lovely”. Thus “lovely” unites two contradicting meanings, one is real – that can characterize Pauline and the other one characterizes the Pauline’s present, by which she tries to dominate and suppress her child. This is due to the mirror effect, the patriarchal ideology, according to which women subconsciously try to form their own appearance. The idea of ​​the mother's appearance in the mind of Pauline’s Son, Robert creates an image of Pauline, which she herself wants to see in the mirror afterwards, but this idea is illusory and the writer uses irony for this reason.

Therefore, the analysis shows the importance of the writer's vision in achieving an accurate translation due to consideration of the author’s point of view and writing style.


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