Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Review of Lady Chatterley's Lover*

D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover is not only an important book in terms of its literary merit, but also its socio-historic impact upon England's publishing world. Although the novel was written in the 1920s, an uncensored version was not published here until 1960. Even then it caused a great deal of scandal: Penguin, the publishing house for the text, was forced to undergo an obscenity trial due to the explicit erotic language and themes the book contained. they fought for the literary merit of the book and the case was concluded with the verdict "not guilty". This makes Lady Chatterley's Lover a key implement in British authors' attempts to discuss erotic concepts in modern texts. 
The story commences with the tale of a sexually licentious girl who marries Sir Clifford briefly before World War I. He returns from the war paralyzed from the waist down. This allows Lawrence to broach the the uncomfortable and forbidden question at the back of everyone's minds: "does it work?". Unfortunately for Sir Clifford, the answer is no. 
Connie, or Lady Chatterley, becomes depressed as a result of their sexless, joyless marriage and begins to seek a lover to satisfy her maternal cravings for a child. This plot is ensconced in a Hardy-esque condemnation of the industrialization of England, as well as a self-conscious examination of class differences.
Despite hearing mixed reviews for the book, I don't regret picking it up (or rather downloading it to my kindle) at all. The book is a pastiche of genres, which I believe is a reason why it doesn't sit well with many readers. It has a great focus on man's connection with nature, which is emblematic of Romantic writing, whilst displaying the futility of human life, terse vocabulary, and lack of sentimentality of modern writing. 
The first portion of the novel seems rather dry and hard to digest. Yet, this appears to merely be a stylistic mirroring of Connie's sexually barren state: once she secures a lover the writing becomes more poetic and much more enjoyable. Though Connie is hardly a likeable figure, doesn't modern fiction often strive to teach us that people cannot be labelled as being good or bad, but rather are more complicated?
So if you want an easy to read, yet important piece of fiction to add to your "To Read" list this summer, pick up Lady Chatterley's Lover​ and give it a shot!
Love, Stephanie 

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