Lady Chatterley’s Lover always sounded like what I may have formerly referred to as a “mom novel”: meaning something that isn’t edgy or contemporary enough for me to possibly relate to or learn from. I of course am usually wrong, and the book turned out to be surprisingly subversive, especially considering when and where it was written, which was England in 1928. Initially published in Italy, it remained unseen in its full form in England and the US until 1961. This may have been due to the abundant appearance of phrases such as “fuck” and “cunt”, but more likely it was due to the fact that this was one of the first famous novels on the subject of female adultery that (gasp) ended hopefully for the adulteress! Comparable books on the subject of female adultery (Anna Karenina, Russia 1878, and Madame Bovary, France 1856) resulted in the female protagonist committing suicide. Author DH Lawrence did not go unpunished for this vast offense on the socially accepted morality of his era, and fought many a legal battle in defense of his “pornography”. Despite the appeal of the book’s controversial nature, DH Lawrence in general tends to be a bit difficult to get into. When i read Sons and Lovers a few years ago I almost put it down a number of times because so much time is spent on subtle facets of characterization that don’t make sense until halfway through the book. Lady Chatterley was similar in that sense– I found the first one hundred pages periodically boring, redundant and sloppily written. The sex was sort of awkward and unsexy to read at first, but that may have been intentional, considering Lady Chatterley’s first lover is not actually THE “Lover”. I don’t want to give away plot points, but with no more than five or six main characters, Lawrence is able to explore subjects ranging from classism, the malaise of the industrial revolution, (which this book caused me to develop an inadvertent interest in) the dynamics of sex (which surprisingly become incredibly precise and relatable) and the dynamics of human relationships in general, be they emotional, intellectual, physical, or some combination of all three. And, of course, feminism (duh.) I will say that this book despite its slow start will remain on the list of my top 25 favorite books, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in (semi-funny) dirty Derbyshire dialect (which reminded me a lot of how much I loved the secret garden as a kid, similar dialect), anyone who thinks intellectual intelligence is the most important quality in a mate (aka me, before reading this book), anyone with a terrible ex or anyone who wants to read a beautiful book that is also weird and ends on a hopeful, but not cheesy or stupid note. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite passages from the book:
“But what DO you believe in?” she insisted. “I don’t know.” “Nothing, like all the men I’ve ever known,” she said. They were both silent. Then he roused himself and said: “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 the women take it warm-heartedly, that everything would come all right. It’s all this cold-hearted fucking that is death and idiocy.” “It’s a fact!” he said. “anything for a bit of warm-heartedness. But the women don’t like it. Even you don’t really like it. You like good, sharp, piercing cold-hearted fucking, and then pretending it’s all sugar. Where’s your tenderness for me? you’re as suspicious of me as a cat is of a dog. I tell you it takes two to be tender and warm-hearted. You love fucking all right: but you want it to be called something grand and mysterious just to flatter your own self importance. Your own self-importance is more to you, fifty times more, than any man, or being together with a man.”
There are rougly 30 incredibly amazing paragraphs, but for now this one must suffice. Happy readings and feel free to comment with any questions! Next review will be of Philosophy in the Bedroom, Eugenie de Franval and Justine by the Marquis de Sade!!