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The Plumed Serpent
D.H. Lawrence
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The Plumed Serpent

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  1,113 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
The story of a European woman's self-annihilating plunge into the intrigues, passions, and pagan rituals of Mexico. Lawrence's mesmerizing and unsettling 1926 novel is his great work of the political imagination.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1926)
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Richard Lodge
OK. It's a mad book, no doubt about it. It's full of ferocity and discontent. And it does seem to ask us to take its ideas about cults and gods and blood seriously. It has stupid notions about race. It is infected with a misanthropic disdain for most people. But it is also struggling with all this, fighting against these damaging instincts. It is rescued, as a book, by its ambivalences and self-questioning. It is also dramatic and powerful. It is a kind of challenge, a kind of poison, but it is ...more
Nov 28, 2008 Typewriter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a writer, Lawrence emits a sense of greatness, of towering above the ordinary and rendering nearly everyone else small-minded by comparison; this is thoroughly in keeping with the attitudes of this very Nietzschean novel. It is the intensity and passion of Lawrence's vision, complemented by astute acerbic insight, that makes him a giant. His stance does tower above more modern, more reasonable, more charitable ones. Do not dismiss him on account of his unpleasant conclusions. It's not what he ...more
I could only get through the first 45 pages of privileged white Americans (and one Irish woman) who move to Mexico and then complain about the Mexicans. Nobody has time for that shit.
Sep 20, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
DH Lawrence takes a trip to Mishima Country! This was so crazy I just had to love it.

It's about Kate, Irish widow, who is in Mexico and pretty much hating it and everyone in it. We open at a bullfight (Mishima loved a good matador!) where everything's a bit sad and unEuropean. Kate goes on to say lots of racist things about Mexicans. Which is a downer. But then she meets a local warlord, and then his warlord boyfriend (Mishima loved a man in uniform!), moves to a lakeside villa, and starts falli
Gregg Bell
Jul 20, 2014 Gregg Bell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
D.H. Lawrence came from a day and age when writing was self discovery. It was a way to find out who you were, a way to open up new worlds within yourself. And the people loved reading about it. You grasped a sense of a writer's psyche, his mind, his emotions and soul.

Reading The Plumed Serpent you get all that and more. Lawrence is most famous for Lady Chatterley’s Lover but The Plumed Serpent is by far the superior novel. Always an autobiographical writer, The Plumed Serpent catches Lawrence i
My rating: 3,5 stars

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She felt again, as the felt before, that Mexico lay in her destiny almost as a doom. Something so heavy, so oppressive, like the folds of some huge serpent that seemed as if it could hardly raise itself.

"There is no such thing as liberty,The greatest liberators are usually slaves of an idea. The freest people are slaves to convention and public opinion, and more still, slaves to the industrial machine. There is no such thi
Dillwynia Peter
Thank you, Mr Lawrence – I think.

Much to think about here, but also much that isn’t acceptable or comfortable in a 21st Century world. As the academic wrote in the Introduction to my edition: “if you want a handbook for how to set up your own Fascist group this has it all.” The main theme of this book is the establishment of a Fascist group in Mexico using pre-European type gods to influence the native Indian population to join. The publication date is really important when reading this book, be
T Fool
May 20, 2009 T Fool rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
Remember Mexico was still fresh from revolution. Lawrence does tap into the 'political' here, but from that vision of his always textured with body-psychology. Any reader not expecting immersion in liquids denser than simple bathwater should be forewarned.

Lawrence comes as close as any, for a man, to getting at a woman's psyche. Granted, all relationships for him reverberate in a mind encased by nature and saturate the mind with a nature humid with August and not devoid of insects. His world sme
Lee Holz
Jun 24, 2011 Lee Holz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although one hesitates to give any book by D. H. Lawrence two stars, in this case I must. The Plumed Serpent is no Son’s and Lovers. This late Lawrence book is filled with long-winded, pretentious and repetitive passages of ersatz Aztec religious claptrap and equally ill-conceived mysticism about the savage Mexican Indian as a race. Couple these with a sort of proto-fascism, and one has a pretty nasty book. Lawrence’s take on gender relations in this world of neo-Aztec revival is equally unattra ...more
Feb 02, 2014 Jess rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing read. I had a very hard time staying with this story as it was slow and negative. I wanted to put it down multiple times but stayed with it hoping for a lovely finish. Would not recommend like I would Lady C's Lover.
Book Wormy
Ugh full review to appear here at some point
Robert Spencer
Hardly a stranger to controversy, DH Lawrence really went to town on some of society’s more sensitive aspects with his largely unheralded later work, The Plumed Serpent. Mixing blasphemy, violence, sensuality and issues of race and gender with a sneering contempt for both developed and third world contemporary cultures, it’s an explosive work even for today’s readers. For the folks back in 1926, it must have seemed an utterly alien piece of literature, which probably helps explain why it was con ...more
Aug 04, 2014 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The Plumed Serpent' is the strangest D.H. Lawrence novel I've read, and I did nearly give it up altogether a couple of times. Once I allowed myself to skim or skip the lengthy, nonsensical Quetzalcoatl 'sermons' I was able to enjoy much of the book. Lush descriptions of the lake, based upon Lake Chapala in Jalisco and Michoacán, expanded the middle of the book and provided a backdrop to the main protagonist's existential quest; a bit reminiscent of Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'. Lawrence tends t ...more
Paul Baker
Nov 27, 2012 Paul Baker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
D. H. Lawrence's epic about Mexico reclaiming its old Aztec gods is both overlong and overblown, especially the many pages he spends unfolding one religious chant after another. It's also a little annoying that his desire to return to primitive consciousness is dependent upon so many people being stupid.

On the other hand, you can often read his prose for hour after hour never caring what he's actually blathering about, because it is so damn well written that the words themselves mesmerize you. E
Jul 05, 2007 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lawrence, religion
The best and worst of Lawrence: on one hand a powerful feeling for the environment of Mexico and some beautiful descriptions of rituals of regeneration and duality, on the other hand an almost punishing harangue of characters and entire peoples "beneath" the writer's contempt and, notoriously, a seriously problematic flirtation with the fascistic side of neo-paganist "cults of the body." Still, I'd rather learn and feel something new from an impassioned writer whose justified detestation of mach ...more
Jul 12, 2007 Anne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So, I love DH Lawrence--I devoured most of his novels while in highschool and decided to pick this up at the bookstore because it was a DH Lawrence taking place in one of my favorite places: Mexico. I thought I'd love it, well, other than the frenetic, fantastic description of Mexico City, I really hated this book. The tempo was slow, the story line not compelling and in the end I didn't even finish reading it, which I never do.

I'm not sure if my adoration of Lawrence's other books was just a hi
Stoyan Petrov
"Пернатата змия" доста се отличава от останалите творби на Лорънс, въпреки че отново се усеща яркото проявление на индивидуалността на модерния човек (в случая жена), противопоставено на традицията, миналото и закостенелостта. Книгата е хубава, на моменти религиозното идва в повече, но не може да се отрече, че авторът е тънък познавач на човешката психика и успява много добре да обрисува противоречивите чувства на човешката душа. Колкото и да е свободна и независима, Кейт въпреки всичко си остав ...more
D Warner
Oct 24, 2008 D Warner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read this book I was fascinated by the feminist implications of a mother of two boys leaving her family behind and starting a new life in an exotic land. Now, putting these theoretical interests on the backburner, I would be interested to reread this book as a work of fiction first and foremost. I believe my finding that this book would be deeply flawed, if for not other reason than the fact that, as I remember it, the arrival of Kate to Mexico is poorly explained. In this way the book co ...more
Marcus Schantz
Aug 01, 2015 Marcus Schantz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book interesting. It is a mix of religion, philosophy, mysticism, cultism and is essentially about rebirth and letting go of what you think you know and giving all of yourself to something. It was like nothing else I've read of Lawrence, but it's a book that will make you think if you read it with an open mind.
Feb 26, 2017 Pip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially I was disappointed with The Plumed Serpent. I had adored D.H.Lawrence when I was young, but that was half a century ago. I assumed that this had been an early novel, but I was wrong. It was written well after my favourite, The Rainbow. Although the descriptions were vintage Lawrence (one would undoubtedly empathise with Kate's disgust at the bullfight because it was depicted so vividly) it quickly got bogged down in description and verse about a revival of Aztec beliefs which is being ...more
Although I thought this was beautifully written with such extraordinary descriptions of the people, their attire and their surroundings, this was just not my cup of tea. The beginning of the story, which takes place during the Mexican Revolution, is a trip to the bullfights reminding me of the scenes in The Sun Also Rises which I did not care for at all. Kate Leslie, one of the tourists watching the bullfight, leaves after deciding that she doesn't appreciate this type of "entertainment". She th ...more
Feb 19, 2017 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
The best thing about having read this book is that I will no longer have it on my reading list. The Plumed Serpent is a mishmash of bad sociology, bad anthropology and bad theology all jumbled together in a noxious stew of racism, sexism and neo-paganism.
Adam O'leary
D H Lawrence imagines the Mexican Revolution taking a spiritual turn, as indigenous Mexicans have supposedly failed to comprehend Christianity, capitalism and socialism due to their specific cultural character, Don Ramón and General Viedma create a cult in which they are the living embodiments of the resurrected Aztec gods, Quetzalcoatl and Huitzilopochtli. Lawrence places Irishwoman Kate Leslie in their midst, travelling with her American friends. She is at once fascinated and revolted by indig ...more
Stephanie "Jedigal"
This novel appears to be an existential exploration for Lawrence. I almost got the sense he was exploring his belief, not just expounding it. But may be not. Told from the point of view of Kate Leslie, a middle-aged Irishwoman visiting Mexico, who becomes acquainted with two men trying to re-establish the Aztec religion in place of Catholicism, which they feel doesn't "suit" the Mexican people, it seems to ask and sometimes answer quite a few questions? What is soul? What is spirit? What is will ...more
Apr 07, 2008 Lucia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected this book to be really difficult. It was in some ways. I loved it at first. I love the complicated, conflicted, complex and compelling woman main character Kate. I love how he captures the dread of the mexican spirit. The feeling of negative death swamping over everything that even I see in Mexico. The aztec culture mixed with catholocism, two idealogies obsessed with death, with epic suffering leading to gods without pleasure. Pure seriousness. But it is too much, overall. Lawrence r ...more
Simon Bailey
Apr 30, 2014 Simon Bailey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
There is a great peculiarity at work in the writing of DH Lawrence, and this is a strange and complex work, with its colourful, grandiose themes, coupled with a kind of awkwardness; sentences that refuse to flow, that tumble, rather than wash, over you. At times it has a kind of angular poetry to it, and with time - say 200 pages - it becomes oddly compelling. There is a great depth of feeling here, a sense of alienation from religion, from politics, from society, and from oneself, and a desire ...more
Jul 17, 2011 Phyllis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When the unabridged edition of Lady Chatterly's Lover came out, I was working in the college library (Ohio) It was in a locked case in the stacks. I now confess that every time I was sent for a book I took the key with me. I'd read a fast five pages, and rush back with a book. Heavens knows how long it took me to read it, but I was probably one of the first persons in Ohio to do so. I also read Women in Love and mostly remember the colors red and yellow. When I moved to Mexico I first began read ...more
Elias Westerberg
Tone and themes remind me of JG Ballard. Even the naming of the chapters are similar. I guess DH Lawrence must have been a great influence on him.

What's basically a weird s/m love story between the narrator and Mexico, quickly evolves into a complex multi-layered male/female new world/old world dialectic. You have to be on your toes all the time because very strange and not entirely pleasant ideas are put forward by the author in a quite convincing (and poetic) way.

Being a real Aztec nerd, the
Nov 17, 2010 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First let me start off by saying that the preface or introduction was quite helpful in putting this book into context. It was a challenge to keep with the storyline at times. So slow. There are moments of introspection and philosophy which I felt really added a needed depth to the story. But the real gem in this book for me was the symbols present. Sure I looked some up, but saying so much through the book and not using your character dialogue (internal and otherwise) was truly beautiful. The on ...more
Kristin Carlisle
I made it to page 200 and decided to quit. Some gorgeous passages, but this book is seriously WAAAY too new-agey. And the constant romanticism of Mexico's "dark races" and "masses of black-eyed peons" is, well, racist. I know it was written in the early 20th century... but I cant handle it! Oh, and the heroine, Kate, is this weak, frightened Irishwoman who basically does nothing but stand transfixed by "the dark eyed" Mexicans, who, by the way, have no authentic voice...they are always just bang ...more
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David Herbert Richards Lawrence was an English writer of the 20th century, whose prolific and diverse output included novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays, travel books, paintings, translations, literary criticism and personal letters. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, Lawrence confronts issues rel ...more
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“Used to all kinds of society, she watched people as one reads the pages of a novel, with a certain disinterested amusement.” 10 likes
“I have a very great fear of love. It is so personal. Let each bird fly with its own wings, and each fish swim its own course.—Morning brings more than love. And I want to be true to the morning.” 5 likes
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