Friday, 11 November 2011

Book #42


Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence


Clifford Chatterley returns from the First World War as an invalid. Constance nurses him and tries to be the dutiful wife but begins to feel oppresses by their childless marriage and isolated life. Partly encouraged by Clifford to seek a lover, she embarks on a passionate affair with the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors.


This is my first foray into Lawrence and I am still quite unsure how I feel. This was my second attempt at Lady Chatterley, and it took me a very long time to get into my stride. The beginning of the novel is greatly about business, class and industrialism, and I am unashamed to say that things only began to get interesting when Lady Chatterley begins her affair.

I think my main confusion with this novel stems from the messages it is conveying. On one hand it is incredibly Victorian, and Lawrence's comments on social class and feminism clearly show this. However, it very well may be the most modern and relatable classic work of fiction I have ever read, and most definitely the first Penguin Modern Classic I have read with such profanities included in the text. The structure and narrative themselves are incredibly modern; however some of the plot lines are so aged. It was difficult to remember that this novel was written in the early 1920s.

I think one of Lawrence's messages here is that sensuality and sexuality are far more important and superior to the workings of the intellectual mind, and the pursuit of intellectual activity. Lawrence then goes on to explore the importance of uniting the mind with the body and allowing them to work in unison to obtain a higher happiness and worth than is possible without such intertwining.

Free speech is a big thing here, rather than the stereotypical free love. I particularly liked the class comments, the differences between men and women (at the time of writing and also in the present day) and the question of whether love is a physical or mental thing. Or both!

The characters were quite flat, boring and unlikeable. Lady Chatterley was entirely dull, Mellors was almost a comic stereotype, and Clifford was your typical wronged against pathetic male who reminded me slightly of pathetic males I have encountered in my own life.

It seemed slightly misogynistic to me, and I wasn't blown away in the slightest. There was a comment somewhere saying that women don't like sex and if they do they are lesbians! The ending was an incredible anti-climax with absolutely no reader satisfaction whatsoever. To me, this is one you would read to say you have read it, and then file it away never to be looked at again.


42 / 72 books. 58% done!

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