Saturday, July 12, 2014

July BC BBC: Lady Chatterley's Lover

Quite a perfect cover, I must say.
Barnes and Noble Edition

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence had grabbed my attention around the same time that Madame Bovary did.  Though I read Madame Bovary quite a while ago, Lady Chatterley sat ensconced on my To Read bookshelf (yes I have a whole one dedicated to books I own that I haven’t read yet).  When I came to the idea of Banned and Challenged books, I was astonished to see I owned this one that I never knew had been so inflammatory.  Also, when I opened to the first page I found it was ripped in half. Nice...

Similar to Madame Bovary, it features a young woman in an unhappy marriage, seeking to find romantic and sexual pleasure with another man.  Pretty typical story for novels, especially trashy beach ones.  The added intrigue for this particular story is that the title character Constance “Connie” Chatterley takes up with the groundskeeper.  How scandalous!  But for the time period the book was written and published in (1928), extramarital affairs were still incredibly taboo.  Especially between people of differing social classes.

The book was markedly regarded with scorn, getting banned in several countries and even ended up part of an obscenity trial in the late 1950s for Penguin Publishing.  The book was found not guilty under the trial of being too obscene for print, though many criticized the descriptive sex and prolific use of the word “fuck.”  Australia not only banned the book, but also banned the book that described the obscenity trial in England.  The book was involved in not one, but five separate obscenity trials including the United States, Canada, Japan, and India. Read more about it here.

Undoubtedly, the book is very candid about sex and sexuality, as well as liberal use of the F word.  It waffles between more and less progressive ideas about a woman’s place in the world, especially in regards to her own body and sexual desires.  Overall, I found the book quite enjoyable and very interesting and well...very sexy at times.  Compared to other material available, this is hardly scandalous.

Some quotes I enjoyed:

“You live by what you thrill to, and there’s the end of it.” -Letter from Lawrence to Aldous Huxley (1928)

“Get your bodies back, men and women.” -Lawrence’s “Men Must Work and Women as Well” (1929)

“Lawrence’s characters are healed by their forbidden sexual love, rather than destroyed by it.” -intro

“Perhaps it is necessary for me to try these places, perhaps it is my destiny to know the world.  It only excited the outside of me.  The inside it leaves more isolated and stoic than ever.  That’s how it is.  It is all a form of running away from oneself and the great problems.” -letter to friend (1922)

 “The beautiful pure freedom of a woman was infinitely more wonderful than any sexual love.  The only unfortunate thing was that men lagged so far behind women in the matter.  They insisted on the sex thing like dogs.” -pg 6

“When you don’t have them they hate you because you won’t; and when you do have them they hate you again, for some other reason.  Or for no reason at all, except that they are discontented children, and can’t be satisfied whatever they get, let a woman do what she may.” -pg 8

“Connie was a well-to-do intelligentista [...]” pg 8

“The bitch-goddess, as she is called, of Success, roamed, snarling and protective, round the half-humble, half-defiant Michaelis’ heels, and intimidated Clifford completely: for he wanted to prostitute himself to the bitch-goddess Success also, if only she would have him.” -pg 23

“The bitch-goddess, Success, was trailed by thousands of gasping dogs with lolling tongues.” -pg 29

“There’s lots of good fish in the sea...maybe...but the vast masses seem to be mackerel or herring, and if you’re not mackerel or herring yourself, you are likely to find very few good fish in the sea.” -pg 33

“Little by little, living together, two people fall into a sort of unison, they vibrate so intricately to one another.” -pg 47

“Because after all, like so many modern men, he was finished almost before he had begun.  And that forced the woman to be active.” -pg 58

“I really like women better than men; they are braver, one can be more frank with them.” -pg 60

“Sex and a cocktail: they both lasted about as long, had the same effect, and amounted to about the same thing.” -pg 68

“A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.” pg 78

“Accept your own aloneness [...]” -pg 155

“Let’s not live ter make money [...]” -pg 235

“If only you could tell them that living and spending isn’t the same thing!” -pg 323

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