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The Plumed Serpent

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,311 ratings  ·  106 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.
Paperback, 464 pages
Published June 2nd 1992 by Vintage (first published 1926)
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3.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,311 ratings  ·  106 reviews

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Richard Lodge
Aug 11, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 08, 2013 added it
Shelves: walk-away
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.
Gregg Bell
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
T Fool
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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
Feb 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
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.
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
Lee Holz
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1926
I took several months to read this book, working on it slowly and diligently, trying to enjoy and comprehend each page. In whole, it's really about the ambivalence of the protagonist, Kate, for Mexican culture and people. In parts, it was beautiful, even exciting at one juncture, but mostly slow and darkly atmospheric. I had a lot of trouble staying awake at times, but I'm glad I stuck with it, and I won't forget it anytime soon. I gave it 4 stars, but 3.5 is what I'd like to give it.
Timothy Ball
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tim-s-shelf
'I, if I have children,' said Teresa, 'I shall try to cast my bread upon the waters, so my children come to me that way. I hope I shall. I hope I shall not try to fish them out of life for myself, with a net. 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.'
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
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
Aug 04, 2014 rated it liked it
'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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
"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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Straight white people bullshit. An old rich haciendado and a frumpy expat widow get up to racist, sexist, culturally exploitative shenanigans in bumfuck nowhere mexico. The best part is lawrence thinks he's writing something serious.

And yet, it's clear lawrence loves Mexico with a passion you just dont hear about these days.
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
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.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
"I really hate Mexico and Mexicans." > "Oh hey look, neoprimitive religion is making a comeback, human sacrifice and all." > "I really love Mexico and Mexicans."

Boring, boring, boring.
David Gross
Jun 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
He could have written a novel just as awful as this one with about 20% as many words.
Book Wormy
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-read, read-2017
Ugh full review to appear here at some point
Feb 26, 2017 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
Cindy Muñoz
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
You can feel the density of this book from the first few pages, and this trend persists to the end. An Irish woman finds herself living abroad in Mexico, and her highly detailed distaste for the culture and the people remains a common theme throughout. Numerous pages are carelessly wasted on this topic, and it comes off as full contempt from the author (probably a testament to the few years he lived in the country). I skipped several pages containing those long-ass rants on the culture's "inferi ...more
Bailey Peyton
Jan 10, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh.... D.H. Lawrence... Why must you toy with my heart? I've been an avid Lawrence Lunatic (my own term) since college. His earlier works held a distinction from most modern classics, in that they weren't marriage plots; they discussed what happened in the minds (and beds) of the characters post wedded bliss and it was not all roses. Even with deplorable actions, I felt something for Lady Chatterley and her sexcapades, (you made me root for an adulteress... As the kids say nowadays, "I can't eve ...more
Bohdan Pechenyak
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Not among the tightest of Lawrence’s texts, the novel nevertheless delivers a powerful imaginative flow of passion, philosophy, visceral experience of primal communion, and the dangers of charismatic, religiously or ideologically motivated leadership. Portraying Mexico’s social tensions (between colonial Catholic culture and indigenous Aztec religion based on the connections to nature) through the eyes of a upper-class European woman, Lawrence explores the inner tension inherent in being an immi ...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
“Used to all kinds of society, she watched people as one reads the pages of a novel, with a certain disinterested amusement.” 11 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.” 6 likes
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