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The Fox by D. H. Lawrence
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The Fox (1923)

by D. H. Lawrence

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411940,219 (3.45)39
Sharply observed and expertly crafted, D.H. Lawrence’s The Fox is a captivating work exploring the dual themes of power and supremacy in the aftermath of the First World War. Banford and March live and work together on their meager farm, surviving hardship only by sheer determination and dedicated labor. The farm is their world, a place of safety--that is, until a young soldier walks in and upsets the women’s delicate status quo. None could have predicted the effect his presence would have on their lives.… (more)

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» See also 39 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Tres depressing! The story didn't really work for me because I couldn't bring myself to care for any of the characters. And with a theme of "Life sucks. What's the Use?," I was less than enthused. I must re-read my Lawrence because, although, I remember his novels as being very dark I don't recall them being as depressing as this story. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 19, 2014 |
“The Fox” is a short story published in 1923, a few years after “Woman in Love” and a handful of years before “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. It tells the story of two women trying to eke out an existence on a farm during WWI; the pair are beset at first by a fox who comes after their chickens, and then later by a soldier on leave. Lawrence leaves it to us to decide if two women are lovers and it could be interpreted either way, but regardless, the soldier comes between them when he becomes obsessed with the idea of marrying one of them.

The fox that vexes them seems to have human characteristics and the soldier who follows has animal characteristics; the two share a common hypnotic power over poor Nellie. I did like the feminist message that came through as the man’s ultimate desire is to conquer the woman and to dominate her (“He wanted her to submit, yield, blindly pass away out of all her strenuous consciousness. He wanted to take away her consciousness, and make her just his woman. Just his woman.”), and aside from the subtle comparison to a brute animal, this is shown to sap the happiness out of the life of what was previously an independent woman. However, the juxtaposition of the fox and the soldier is a little heavy-handed; the adjectives used to describe them are blended a bit too much, and stylistically I don’t think this work is as successful as it could have been.

Quotes:
This image was striking:
“’Kiss me before we go, now you’ve said it,’ he said.
And he kissed her gently on the mouth, with a young frightened kiss. It made her feel so young, too, and frightened, and wondering: and tired, tired, as if she were going to sleep.
They went indoors. And in the sitting-room, there, crouched by the fire like a queer little witch, was Banford. She looked round with reddened eyes as they entered…”

On obsession and rage, which seemed classicly Lawrencian with those exclamation points:
“The boy read this letter in camp as he was cleaning his kit. He set his teeth and for a moment went almost pale, yellow round the eyes with fury. He said nothing and saw nothing and felt nothing but a livid rage that was quite unreasoning. Balked! Balked again! Balked! He wanted the woman, he had fixed like the doom upon having her. He felt that was his doom, his destiny, and his reward, to have this woman. She was his heaven and hell on earth, and he would have none elsewhere. Sightless with rage and thwarted madness he got through the morning. Save that in his mind he was lurking and scheming towards an issue, he would have committed some insane act.”

On happiness:
“…it seemed to her that the whole of life and everything was only a horrible abyss of nothingness. The more you reached after the fatal flower of happiness which trembles so blue and lovely in a crevice just beyond your grasp, the more fearfully you became aware of the ghastly and awful gulf of the precipice below you, into which you will inevitably plunge, as into the bottomless pit, if you reach any further. You pluck flower after flower – it is never the flower. “ ( )
  gbill | Jan 21, 2012 |
Haven’t read any Lawrence for quite a while. Actually, not since Lady Chatterley’s Lover back in September 2007. Missed him. This was a good novella, packed with the deep analysis of personality that I’ve come to expect from old David Herbert.

There’s these two women running a farm. They’re strangers in town, only been there a few years, and they’re having a hard time of it as their money runs out and their inexperience starts to show. There’s a fox that slinks around and steals their chickens and one day, March encounters it in such a way that she feels it is somehow trying to mesmerise her.

And mesmerised she remains because when, soon afterwards, a young returnee from the trenches arrives at what he thinks is his grandfather’s farm, she is convinced he is the fox in human form. Prey on the chickens he certainly does. Despite being far younger than her, the young man is set on making her his wife.

The psychology between first the two women, then March and the fox and then the three adults on the farm is deep and intense. There’s a lot going on here in regard to the roles men and women play in the lives of those they choose to love and/or give themselves to. For such a short book, there’s so much of it. I couldn’t help feeling that a longer piece of work would really do it more justice.

So, just dipped my toe back into Lawrence and am looking forward to a more lengthy swim in weeks to come. ( )
  arukiyomi | Nov 6, 2011 |
Two women invite a visitor to stay on their farm and while everything seems polite and proper on the surface, as they sit taking high tea, underneath lurks change and danger.. ( )
  kk1 | Sep 13, 2011 |
This first Lawrence I've read impressed me greatly and induced me to read the Britannica bio on him as well as the 1st chapter of Lady Chatterley's Lover. The Fox, which will never be accused of being obscene, tells the story of an unusual courtship between a soldier on leave and one of two maiden ladies trying (with limited success) to run a chicken farm in England during World War I. The soldier shoots a fox which has been despoiling their hen house but then despoils one of the ladies by proposing marriage to and eventually making off with her house mate, leaving this unfortunate woman dead from an accidental tree fall. The slain fox seems perhaps a metaphor for God - or Life Force - and the very equivocal relationship between the newly-weds at the conclusion appears to be a lament by the author protesting what seem to him the unsolvable riddles of Life and Love. ( )
  markbstephenson | Jun 2, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lawrence, D. H.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Poziemski, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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