tispity: Vanquisher character from Torchlight (Default)
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Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

'Yes, I do believe in something. I believe in being warm-hearted. I believe especially in being warm-hearted in love, in fucking with a warm heart. I believe if men could fuck with warm hearts and women take it warm-heartedly, everything would come all right.'

Since I'm currently meant to be writing an essay on censorship for my library course, it seemed like a good opportunity to visit one of the most famous banned books of all time. First published in 1928 - in Italy rather than Lawrence's native UK where it could not be published openly until 1960 - Lady Chatterley's Lover has become notorious for its then unprintably coarse language and its graphic descriptions of an adulterous sexual relationship between an aristocratic woman and her husband's gamekeeper. I can imagine that this cross-class relationship was originally every bit as shocking - if not more so - than the sexual language; certainly that's how characters in the novel respond, Connie Chatterley's father and sister are far more concerned at the scandal of her class-betrayal than of her adultery. But this isn't a book designed purely to shock, it's thoughtful and thought-provoking on so many levels, as well as being a vivid snapshot of British society still reeling from the First World War and in painful transition from its smoggy industrial heyday to a more service based economy. The novel essentially deals with the contrast between intellect and physicality, and the realisation of its protagonist, Connie, that she cannot live through her mind alone; she must also be alive in her body. This choice is represented by the two men in her life: her husband, the colliery owner Sir Clifford, who has been paralysed from the waist down and now lives a purely intellectual life as a writer, and the game-keeper, the sensual Oliver Mellors who lives in quiet isolation after an unsuccessful marriage and string of disappointing affairs.

I found this book hard going at first, as the book opens to a lot of quite academic generalisations about male and female nature but Connie becomes a more engaging character as she moves from cold intellect towards passion, and I appreciated the honesty and realism of Lawrence's prose. Connie and Mellors find tremendous fulfilment in each other but even their love-making is far from perfect and the novel describes the mental distances between them just as vividly as it does their unions. Lawrence's working title for the book was at one point, "Tenderness" and this does seem to be the philosophy that Lawrence promotes above all. It's an important message, and the novel, overall, resembles the "Lover" of its title: with a famously coarse exterior masking much that is tender and noble.

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tispity: Vanquisher character from Torchlight (Default)
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September 2010

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