Books > Old Books > The Plumed Serpent (1926)


Page 7

INTRODUCTION BY RICHARD ALDINGTON

THE PLUMED SERPENT is a curious and original novel, with no affinities - unless perhaps very distantly with Rolfe's Hadrian VII; and it is quite certain that that book had no influence on Lawrence, since he read and reviewed it (December 192 5) after his own book was in the press. The similarity lies in the fact that in both books the author imagines himself raised to a position of power which he never had the faintest chance of attaining in fact on this earth. In Rolfe's case it was nothing less than the Papacy - modest fellow! Lawrence, after playing at Red Indians and cowboys at Taos, New Mexico, less ambitiously imagines himself transformed into the leader (perhaps two leaders) of a Mexican pronunciamiento.
This, however, was rather banal and ordinary, for in those days were there not more Mexican generals than soldiers? And Lawrence by this time had already seen through the swindle of such `political revolutions' which promise an `epoch of abundance for all' and bring only misery and deprivation, which certainly know how to make rich men poor, but distinctly fail to make poor men rich. No! Lawrence could not and would not imagine himself leading yet another demonstration of the social vandalism of Envy.
He asked himself, quite seriously, what would really meet the needs of these Mexican Indians who had in actual fact revolted after centuries against the rule of the degenerate descendants of the Conquistadores? Now Lawrence, whatever other people might think of him, considered himself `terribly religious.' The religious beliefs of men, in his view, were far more important than the balance of trade, cost-of-living indices, and the like 'jargon' of what he considered economic charlatanism.
Now, by the time Lawrence came to write the latter part of his book (there was a gap of nearly eighteen months between the two writings of this book- June 1923 to October 1924) he had learned a good deal about the Indians and Mexicans of

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