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The Virgin and the Gipsy Paperback – June 2, 1992
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Set in a small village in the English countryside, this is the story of a secluded, sensitive rector's daughter who yearns for meaning beyond the life to which she seems doomed. When she meets a handsome young gipsy whose life appears different from hers in every way, she is immediately smitten and yet still paralyzed by her own fear and social convention. Not until a natural catastrophe suddenly, miraculously sweeps away the world as she knew it does a new world of passion open for her. Lawrence's spirit is infused by all his tenderness, passion, and knowledge of the human soul.
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Top Customer Reviews
Discovered in France after D. H. Lawrence's death and never finalized by the author, The Virgin and the Gipsy is the fairy tale-like story of Yvette Saywell, a 19-year-old rector's daughter chafing against the moral "life unbelievers" that make up her family.
Although the "virgin" of the title, Yvette is no demure maiden. She is temperamental, strong willed, and aware of her father's "degrading unbelief, the worm which was his heart's core"-just as her fallen mother was. She enjoys being contrary and openly contemptuous of her middle-class, overtly moral, covertly disturbed family. Her every exposure to life leaves her harder; "She lost her illusions in the collapse of her sympathies." She loathes the rectory "with a loathing that consumed her life."
The most hated person in the Saywell family is the rector's ancient, blind mother, called "The Mater" or "Granny." Yvette hates her. Her sister Lucille hates her. Their aunt Cissie hates her. She is compared to a toad, a reptile, a fungus. Like the toad that snaps its jaws on all the bees exiting the hive and devouring all life around it, The Mater, who gave literal life to the family, absorbs the entire family's energy and life force. The gardener smashes the toad with a stone in oblique foreshadowing of The Mater's fate.
Yvette is keenly aware of her status as a "moral unbeliever" (like her mother, who ran off with young man when Lucille and Yvette were children) and her virgin power. When she finds herself in the company of a virile gipsy man and his "lonely, predative glance," she finds herself in his virile power, "gone in his will."
The gipsy represents her "free-born will," which separates her from the rest of the Saywells.Read more ›
The rector had a tragedy in his marriage. The woman whose virginal beauty and nature he had loved became frustrated with him, and left him with two young daughters for another man. Despite his loss of "she who was Cynthia," the rector still loves that memory. His younger daughter, Yvette, grows up to be a lot like her mother. That makes life tough for her, because her Grandmother and maiden Aunt rule the roost, and despise anything that or anyone who reminds them of "she who was Cynthia." Despite the encouragement of her more conventional older sister, Yvette is at sixes and sevens. She cannot stand her home, her family, or the young men who woo her. She feels totally bored and frustrated.
In the midst of her crisis after school ends, she notices a gypsy who seems to command and excite her at the same time. He is the only person who has ever positively moved her, and she doesn't know what to make of it. But her lack of focus keeps her from doing much about it. "She was born inside the pale. And she liked comfort, and a certain prestige." So the idea of running off with a married father of five children who lives in a caravan doesn't exactly thrill her.
The tension builds in the household as her rector father discovers she has made friends with "unsuitable" people (a couple living together prior to marriage, following the woman's divorce). Yvette cuts off her connection with them.Read more ›
The story of a younger sister simmering with rebellion against the stifling morality of a rectory, society's expectations, and a vampiric mother figure, it seems to incorporate themes of Lady Chatterley, Sons & Lovers and Women in Love in a potent distillation of Lawrence's obsessions. It's like a voluptuous poem that affirms and fortifies his earlier work.
This is a great book for those who find some of the more well-known novels "baggy" or "loose." Direct and unadorned, the language nonetheless probes the protagonist's inner life with Lawrence's characteristic poetic incisiveness. The language catches us at the elemental level of a fairy tale, and in places, the vividness is almost startling.
Lawrence can be eyebrow-raising in his directness: not even about sex, but about human beings, their true hidden feelings and motivations. Highly recommended.
And I was not disappointed. Other reviewers have said that this novella is a "distillation" of themes expressed in his longer works, and I believe that is essential true. There is the dreary boredom of provincial English village life compounded by an unhappy and dysfunctional family that transcends three generations. The "Queen Bee" as it were, is "Granny" or "Mater," ugly and obese, who lords (ladies?) it over the other two generations. Her two immediate children are the somewhat non-believing rector and the very unhappy Cissie, who, from time immemorial, has been the "dutiful" daughter who has had to sacrifice her own happiness, and aspirations in life, in order to take care of her parents.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A young woman living a restricted life in the parsonage of her rector father miles from the nearby small town is restless and rebellious (mostly emotionally) and waiting for... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Sea Cure
As with D.H. Lawrence's most famous books, this novella is a very passionate read. The central character Yvette Saywell is the free-spirited but sheltered daughter of a village... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Jennifer Wells
D.H. Lawrence was a master of subtle seduction in this novel. I loved how simple the storyline was, how it seemed to go quietly from paragraph to paragraph without pomp, but the... Read morePublished on May 2, 2012 by Amazon Customer
Two sisters, Yvette and Lucille, have just emerged from the constraints of youth into the freedom of young adulthood, but Yvette finds to her surprise that life is dull and... Read morePublished on March 27, 2008 by Raymond Mathiesen
In this book, Lawrence is in usual top form in describing the longing of a young girl, a virgin, for the slightly unconventional. Read morePublished on May 10, 2006 by Jon Linden
Though it is a quite short story, the Virgin and the Gipsy, tells a lot about the feelings and thoughts of a lot of young women from all over the world. Read morePublished on July 8, 2005 by A.Bassiouny
The Virgin and The Gipsy! What do you understand from that title? It summarizes the book a bit, doesn't it? Read morePublished on November 1, 2003
Having never heard of this story, picking it up and reading it really was a nice suprize and was another enlightening experience with Lawrence. Read morePublished on September 5, 1998 by firstname.lastname@example.org