Stemming from the vivid essay “The Dance” in Twilight in Italy, where “men dance with men”, this essay discusses the important role of dance as a means of communication and artistic expression in Lawrence’s travel writings. Popular dance is a show Lawrence attends in many places ranging from Lake Garda, to the remote island of Sardinia and to Mexico, to end up with dancing people in the painted Etruscan tombs in Tarquinia. Folk dances are seen by the writer as a kind of archaic, instinctual language that enables him to look into the very core of popular cultures. Paradoxically, however, the primitive dimension in folk dance also helps him to achieve a better understanding of the avant-garde (i.e. the ballets russes) and of Modernist experimentation. Beneath his response to this experience, furthermore, it is possible to perceive the influence of Nietzsche’s vitalism and, in particular, the expression of Dionysian frenzy in primitive cultures as opposed to the sterile Apollonian perfection of Western Civilization.
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