Lady Chatterley's Lover (Bantam Classics) Reprint Edition
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From the Publisher
"Nobody concerned with the novel in our century can afford not to read it." -- Lawrence Durrell
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At first the book seems to be about depression. The characters have a rather depressing view of life, and of relationships, and the language of the book, the words on the page, the vibe of the book, is dry. You wonder that a whole book of it can have been written and somehow become a classic. As it goes on, you see it's not just about depression, but also the different classes; the working man and the aristocrats. A lot of time is taken on that aspect, all through the book.
Then Lady Chatterly finds herself beginning a relationship with someone other than her husband (who returned from the war paralyzed from the waist down) and the whole feel of the book changes. As she opens up, like a flower in the morning to the warmth and light of the sun, the vibe becomes less and less dry, less depressing. The outlook of the characters on relationships, on feelings between people, both physical and mental, change in big ways. Life becomes something to reach for.
It's not an easy read, as the language doesn't flow freely, but it's quite worth reading. This book deserves its classic status.
As far as the e-book version I read (Lady Chatterly's Lover - The Unexpurgated Edition), all throughout the book there were grammar errors, misspellings, and symbols placed amid letters so that you couldn't tell what some words were supposed to be. Such as "of four" instead of "off our". It made for a bit of a slower read, but looking past that, a worthy one.
England in the early Twentieth Century was already an empire in decline and the decline was only to accelerate. In Sir Clifford, the impotent intellectual in a wheelchair, Lawrence finds the perfect metaphor for the nation’s psyche. Most of his ancient woods have been converted to factories and mines and housing developments. But he vows to hold on and revive his now depleted woods. Mellors, the newly-hired gamekeeper, is full of brooding sexuality, restless and dissatisfied as he tries to accept his lowly place in the world after the war. All the characters are prisoners of the horrid caste system, especially the headstrong and vibrant young woman. I found this a powerful novel that asks big questions. It’s fairly short and I read it fairly quickly. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and provocative on many levels. Four Stars.
Top international reviews
This is a story of adultery. A love affair across the class divide. The wife of an aristocrat falls for a man on the lower rungs of society - a lowly gamekeeper. Why?. Lady Constance Chatterley finds her relationship with her husband, Lord Clifford Chatterley, both physically and emotionally bankrupt. Clifford is paralyzed from the waist down due to a war injury and his mental state is one of cold indifference and intellectual snobbery. Constance is neglected to the point of frustration but also pushed into producing the son necessary to carry on 'the family name'. Any aristocrat will do but; on meeting the very masculine, non intellectual, Oliver Mellors it's just a case of 'when' and not 'if'.
Constance is empowered, awakened, and goes on to realise, through her affair with Oliver, that to find happiness she needs to be in a relationship that's complete; mind and body, and that's something her husband is unwilling and unable to give.
At first the pregnancy is met by a mix of gossip and joy. The Chatterley name will continue. Only when the true identity of the father is revealed to be a member of the working classes does the world implode and Lady Chatterley is cast away to find her true love finally free from all she has grown to loathe.
There's a lot of insight here and plenty of social commentary if you're happy to spend the time looking for it but; if you're reading 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' purely because of the smutty reputation it gained as a banned book during the 1970s you'll be disappointed.
Lady Chatterly is not one of my favourite 'classics' but it has a lot to say about the times in which it was written. D H Lawrence makes cutting observations about the class structure, the treatment of women and the plight of the poor.
In today's society it's hard to see the scandal in the book, but easy to ascertain why it was so scandalous. Unfortunately the convoluted complex conversations are the worst part of the book - I just can't see how any couple (irrespective of class) would talk to each other in that way, it lost a lot of believability.
Constance Chatterley is married to Clifford, who during the First World War is injured to such an extent that he is paralysed from the waist down. Thus their marriage becomes something of a partnership of intellects. This starts off one of the underlying themes of the whole book, the question of what makes a complete and fulfilling relationship between two people. The other underlying theme is class structures. Throughout the book class rears its head. Clifford is upper class, Constance herself is originally middle class, and then the gamekeeper, Mellors, is working class. Even when we have described the home of the Chatterley's we can see that industry is not too far away; for instance the colliery that can be seen on the horizon, and the soot that rains down on the land. Clifford seems to be able to ignore this, as if it is all beneath him.
The story analyses how Constance wants more than just an intellectual relationship, and how she becomes dissatisfied with the sex with others that she does have, how once the man has had his jollies, he is not too concerned about the woman having her pleasure. With the yearning for a baby as well we can quite clearly see Constance's wishes and yearnings. With Clifford we can see how he alters and becomes quite attached to the nurse, the widow Mrs Bolton, treating her almost as a motherly figure.
Always an interesting read this can be in places grim and pessimistic, but also feels so real with Lawrence's prose, providing us with something that is both intelligent, thought provoking and fascinating.
Despite more than 50 years having elapsed since its release to the public, I'd never bothered to read it. However, I noticed it when browsing the Kindle Store and downloaded it out of curiosity, only to find it to be one of the most beautiful, compelling and poignant love stories I have ever read. By today's standards the descriptions which caused all the furore are by no means shocking although, rather than the sex scenes, the descriptions of the class structure which existed in the early 20th century and the very liberal ideas on adultery and infidelity discussed by the "upper classes" would seem to be far more surprising.
I'm glad that I didn't read the book when it first became available as I think I wouldn't have had the maturity to appreciate the beauty of the language or to understand the insight the story gives into an age and a class structure that doesn't exist in such a defined manner any more. I have found the book a joy to read and am glad that I've got round to reading it at last.
There are stretches of Lawrence's most cogent writing here. Convinced that money-worship and industrialism are destroying everything recognisably human, Lawrence despairs of political redress and argues that only through sexual tenderness can people hope to survive in a hostile and meaningless world. Sir Clifford is much more fully developed as an embodiment of arid intellectualism in this novel than in The First Lady Chatterley and Lawrence's swipes at fashionable writers and artists are often funny and usually telling. Equally engaging is the presentation of Constance and her determination to find meaning and human warmth in a loving relationship. It's Mellors who remains problematic and not altogether artistically coherent. His roughness is part affectation, part crusade against insincerity and the bogus authority of class and money. But as a champion of sexual love, he leaves rather too much wanting: few readers will concede that enlightenment is likely to spring from buggery and the wearing of scarlet trousers and the attempt to rehabilitate anglo saxon obscenities is unconvincing, partly because Mellors is such an incompetent lover until Connie teaches him what tenderness means. If not a book to deny your wife or servants (vide the Chatterley trial), this probably isn't the novel to give your daughter as a guide to finding what matters in a relationship. The concept Lawrence is advocating is admirable; the execution often lamentable. The drunken exchanges between Connie's father and Mellors towards the end of the book are arguably the worst writing by any major English novelist. It's not the depravity which shocks, it's the hopeless execution. Nobody talks like that.
But there is so much that is powerful, moving and exciting in this book that it deserves a much wider audience than its notoriety prevents. And this fine reading should certainly help it find new fans.
A book about the importance (or otherwise) of sex. How it is for men. How it is for women. Expect rampart promiscuity and several sex scenes.
Between all of this, long-winded philosophical viewpoints. Mostly about sex.
Definitely could've been cut shorter.
I did not want to put down.
The sexual encounters are deeply sensual, real and gritty, without being base in anyway - the likes of Ms E L James should take note!
This is literature at its very best and worthy of the name.
A true classic with wonderful prose and deep characterization that makes it a pleasure to read.
My only criticism is the ending that seems to be left hanging, as if priming the reader for a sequel. Unfortunately there is no sequel!
Although this book was written in the 1920s it was withheld by the authorities, who deemed it indecent! Hence when it was finally released in the 1960s many people bought it in the expectation of lots of pornographic content. But this edition is not at all pornographic, especially by today's standards, and the sex scenes are very nicely portrayed.
I love this book!