The Prussian Officer Background

The Prussian Officer Background

D. H. Lawrence worked on “The Prussian Officer” between May and June 1913 under the title “Honor and Arms.” That was his preferred title all the way through a revision process that lasted into October of that year. The story would be published English Review in August 1914 under the present title it is known by against the will of its author. In fact, the title was changed during the publication process at the behest of Edward Garnett acting upon his initiative as mentor to Lawrence.

The story which Lawrence deemed to be about honor more than rank is a classic psychological examination of the inevitable and violent eruption of repressed emotions when those emotions succeed in finally rising through the obstructive wall constructed by the conscious mind. The wall’s capacity for security at keeping drives and impulses a person is not quite ready to face from breaking through results in anxiety and Lawrence here presents a portrait of a character driven almost to the point of madness by anxiety he cannot fully understand.

The homosexuality that is drive which has been repressed and then unleashed is thematically examines not just from a sexual perspective, but also as it relates to issues of dominance and the need for submission to authority within a military system and what happens when that submission is undermined.

The story was later republished using the same title that Lawrence opposed, although apparently he had reconsidered somewhat since the title of the collection of his story in which it appeared in November 1914 was The Prussian Officer and Other Stories.

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