Penetration and the novel : the metaphysics of sexuality and the sexuality of metaphysics in D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf and Joyce Cary



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Lawrence, Woolf and Cary seem to represent an ambiguous attitude toward sexuality, the dialectics of which are centered in their approaches to penetration as action and as metaphor. The main question that emerges isi for the artist, is the creative mind asexual, androgynous, or patently sexual? There are two sorts of penetration, physical and nonphysical, the latter represented by what I have called artistic penetration as evidenced by the novel. Physical penetration, . as a term, avoids the necessity of defining 'sexual' and also takes into account penetration by non-sexual means, though such means may be metaphorically sexual. The precise relationship between physical and non-physical penetration varies from author to author and book to book so that either action may be the metaphor in any particular case. To state categorically which metaphor holds the greater meaning would necessitate a more far-reaching statement about the nature of human affairs than I am prepared to make, but the fact that such a metaphorical relationship exists can tell us a great deal about the process, and perhaps ultimately the significance, of literary art.