Daniel Adler recommends Sons and Lovers. D.H. Lawrence is widely esteemed as one of the best writers of the 20th century, yet he often finds scorn for being too feminine. Reading what is arguably his masterpiece it’s easy to understand what this means.
Lawrence is preoccupied with relationships. That is, his dialogue has little substance, and rather the absence of substance is it: what’s left unsaid shows what exists between his characters. For that he is great. It’s also for that he isn’t as widely accepted as, say, Kerouac.
He’s mystical. Like Blake, but more so. He uses the word “soul” too much for most readers to understand without their cliche detector going off. But each use is appropriate because he is a writer of the soul.
Whereas Joyce was obsessed with the consciousness of the individual, Lawrence is obsessed with the gaps between individual consciousnesses; he likes to explore how love affects people differently, how one person impacts another. This is fascinating and in his masterpiece of 20th century classic literature he writes masterfully.
One must know Lawrence to write successfully, since he is one of the few who gets at this topic, and is likely the best to do it. But to imitate his style is impossible. I seek to balance the Lawrencean style with the Joycean, to write a novel primarily about the individual, secondarily about his consciousness relating to others.