- Paperback: 364 pages
- Publisher: Wilder Publications (March 26, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1604596368
- ISBN-13: 978-1604596366
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,067,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Rainbow Paperback – March 26, 2009
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[Lawrence] had that quality of genius which sucks out of ordinary experience essences strange or unknown to men. --Anaïs Nin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Only a month after its original publication in 1915, this novel was banned. Its sensual and explicit themes, by now characteristic of D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930), were considered particularly offensive in wartime by many reviewers, and the saga of the Brangwen family would not reappear in Britain until 1926. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Structurally, The Rainbow is a family saga that follows the lives of the Brangwen family -- Tom, Anna, and Ursula (who continues, along with artist sister Gudrun, in Women in Love (Oxford World's Classics)) -- of East Midlands over three generations, from around 1840 through 1905. It incorporates the progression of British industry, in particular how it expands around the Brangwen homestead, Marsh Farm, and treats consequences of it critically. Lawrence is also critical of the redoubtable British military, focusing on the Boer War and Ursula's shattered lover, military engineer Skrebensky. But publishing at the opening of WWI, he won himself no friends among the stalwart loyalists.
When Lawrence comes up, most think of sex. There's plenty of it in The Rainbow, though none of it explicit or lurid. It's more a part of life, a legitimate expression of one's feelings. And it's usually ecstatic, as powerful as a religious experience; hence, Lawrence's use of religious language -- and many biblical allusions -- to heighten the experience. For example, toward the end of the novel, well after Ursula and Skrebensky have broken their engagement, he returns to England. They reunite and once again make love. Lawrence gives us a description that conveys an idea radical for its day, along with a nod to the eternal (with his characteristic repetition):
"Then he turned and kissed her, and she waited for him. The pain to her was the pain she wanted, the agony was the agony she wanted. She was caught up, entangled in the powerful vibration of the night. The man, what was he? -- a dark, powerful vibration that encompassed her. She passed away as on a dark wind, far, far away, into the pristine darkness of paradise, into the original immortality. She entered the dark fields of immortality.
"When she rose, she felt strangely free, strong. She was not ashamed, -- why should she be? He was walking beside her, the man who had been with her."
To appreciate why The Rainbow got many in a sweat of indignant condemnation, you're probably best to put yourself in the period, to forget the present and what has transpired between 1915 and today. Lawrence wasn't simply dealing in sex, he was giving life to ideas that ran against the societal grain of the times, and that tends to scare the heck out of most anybody anywhere anytime.
This Oxford World's Classics edition features a very helpful introduction by Professor Kate Flint, an extensively annotated text, and a timeline of Lawrence's life.
In 1915 he wrote the Rainbow which tells the three generational tale of the Brangwen mining and farming family of Nottinghamshire. The generational stories revolve around:
a. Tom and Lydia Brangwen-He is a strong man who marries the Polish widow Lydia. Together they have several children as they build a world of their own on their farm.The couple has difficult communicating well together except in the marital bed.
b. Will and Anna Brangwen-Anna was the daughter of Lydia and her first husband a Polish physician who died young. While Will and Anna have a brood of children it is Anna who is in the spotlight. She weds her cousin Will. We see them making love; Anna dancing in the nude during a pregnancy and becoming an earth mother loving her man, home and land.
c. Ursula is the oldest daughter of Will and Anna. She is a shy girl who blossoms in the novel. Ursuala becomes a schoolteacher in a grim urban school; falls in love and leaves Anton Skrebensky and returns home to her family and the friendship and love of her sister Ursula. These two girls will be the main characters in "Women in Love" the sequel to "The Rainbow." Ursula develops a lesbian relationship in this novel but is clearly bisexual in orientation. The novel ends with her miscarriage as she is chased by a herd of horses in the rain.
That is the outline of the story. Nothing much happens on the surface; plot is there but is minimal. What Lawrence aimed for in this fiction was the experience of sexual awakening; the female organism and the stormy but essential relationship between the sexes. His language is poetic in beauty and bristles with the life force. His descriptions of nature are detailed and evocative making him the heir to Thomas Hardy.
"The Rainbow" was removed from the bookstore due to the strict and puritanical English censorship during World War I. Lawrence's wife Frieda who was German was under suspicion as a spy and the couple had a terrible time. Today in our sexually liberated culture "The Rainbow" is far from shocking. What we remember is the beauty of the language and the sense of time passing in the genealogical study he gives to one English family.
Lawrence hated modernity, industrialism and the rape of the English countryside due to mining. He is romantic yearning for a simpler time.
This classic novel published in the Cambridge Edition by Penguin paperbacks is well worth your time and money.