Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

I finished this book three days ago and I'm still thinking about it and considering how best to explain why I think it's so great. I can't seem to come up with the proper vocabulary to express how right it is...
George Orwell mentions in one of his essays that the first time he read Lawrence he was struck by how the author sympathised with every character in the book, and left the reader at a loss as to whose side to be on (obviously he phrased this idea much more succinctly!). His concern was the decline of absolute right and wrong in Western society, and he seems to imply that Lawrence falls into this category of refusing to paint any character as morally bad. Having read other short stories and poems by Lawrence and having been bored/grossed out (c.f. St Mawr and The Rocking Horse Winner, respectively), I was pleasantly surprised by the writing and the characters when I first started Lady Chatterley's Lover. I wouldn't want to comment on his other writing, but there are only a few main characters in this novel and it's true that the author sympathises with each of them - in this case, however, I don't think this is a bad thing. I agree that absolute morality has been on the decline - since about 1890 - and that this is A Bad Thing, but in the world of Lady Chatterley's Lover, morality isn't what's at stake. Or rather, the decline of absolutes is precisely one of the circumstances that is deplored by the characters, each in his/her own way. If Lawrence had painted either Connie or Clifford as A Bad Person, the theme of the novel would have been entirely different and some of its beauty would have been lost. A much more vivid picture of the state of England in the 1920s is drawn by showing Clifford's thoughts as they are and both Connie's own thoughts and her reactions to his ideas. If, instead, Lawrence had used the third person point-of-view for Connie throughout, the depth of the book would have been diluted; the reader would have been shown Clifford and Oliver’s ideas only through the prism of Connie’s reactions and this would have implied a preference on Lawrence’s part for a specific opinion, resulting in a different type of novel entirely.
Far better the novel as it stands; I wish I had it in front of me so I could quote some of the more salient phrases, but that will have to wait.


Popular posts from this blog

Contest to Celebrate My 900th Post!

IWSG Day, and RIP Tom Petty

Books, etc.