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The Virgin and the Gipsy Paperback – June 2, 1992

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The Virgin and the Gipsy was discovered in France after D. H. Lawrence's death in 1930. Immediately recognized as a masterpiece in which Lawrence had distilled and purified his ideas about sexuality and morality, The Virgin and the Gipsy has become a classic and is one of Lawrence's most electrifying short novels.
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.

About the Author

David Ellis is the author of Lawrence's Non-Fiction: Art, Thought and Genre and Wordsworth, Freud and the Spots of Time. He has been commissioned to write Volume HI of the New Cambridge biography of Lawrence.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (June 2, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679740775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679740773
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,685,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Virgin and the Gipsy by D. H. Lawrence. Recommended.
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.
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Format: Paperback
This book was found in D.H. Lawrence's papers after his death. It has been published as it was found, which was probably incomplete. The story has some rough edges that undoubtedly would have been smoothed with more rewriting. The book raises interesting questions about what love, proper behavior, and life are all about.
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.
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Format: Paperback
The Virgin and the Gipsy, told in the language of a vivid, pared-down parable, though short, seems somehow an essential addition to Lawrence's canon.

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.
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Format: Paperback
D.H. Lawrence's remains are here in New Mexico, on his former ranch that the University of New Mexico refuses to maintain. The most likely story is that his ashes were "vitrified," that is, place in a large glass slab by his wife, Frieda, to whom this book is dedicated. UNM's position is that "no one reads Lawrence anymore" and besides, we have to have enough money to pay our (losing) football coach more than a million bucks a year. Ah, priorities. Admittedly the reviews on this book at Amazon are not numerous, and we can only "revive" him one read at a time. I recently re-read The Rainbow: Cambridge Lawrence Edition (Penguin Classics), and realized how much I had missed the first time around. And before I tackle the lengthy Sons and Lovers (Wordsworth Classics) (Wadsworth Collection), thought a concise novella might be in order.

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.
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