DH Lawrence: a Journey without Shame – a Culture Show Special

Sat Nov 23, 10.15-11.15pm, BBC2

A pornographer? A racist? A misogynist? A fascist? As literary giants go, DH Lawrence has one of the more fiercely contested reputations. This film feels like a very conscious attempt to set the record straight, dealing with each of these accusations in turn as well as offering a potted history of his life and work. It’s reasonably persuasive, eventually making the case for Lawrence as an unguarded, un-PC savant whose only crime was to pour his words out defiantly unfiltered.

So far so good, although the conceit of sending novelist Geoff Dyer off on a Lawrence tour of Europe with DH scholar Catherine Brown is distinctly less successful. The pair don’t share any screen chemistry whatsoever and Dyer doesn’t even give the impression of liking Lawrence all that much. Still, for the most part, a persuasive reappraisal of the man Rachel Cusk calls ‘the greatest writer of English prose.’