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Sons and Lovers MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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About the Author
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) was a British writer of novels, poems, essays, short stories, and plays whose best-known books include The Rainbow, Women in Love, and Lady Chatterley's Lover.
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"Sons and Lovers" is a semi-autobiographical novel in which the story's main protagonist, Paul Morel, struggles to maintain relationships with two female characters (Miriam and Clara) despite an almost Oedipian relationship with his mother, whose own disastrous marriage drives her to focus an abnormal amount of affection on her sons. Paradoxically he ends up killing his mother (out of kindness) rather than his father. Paul is a frustratingly complex individual and, for me, less than authentic. If this were not so evidently autobiographical I would be more skeptical. Lawrence himself, while the son of an essentially illiterate coal miner and a school teacher, attended Nottingham Grammar School and the University of Nottingham before becoming a teacher himself. His alter ego in the novel, Paul Morel, leaves school at the age of thirteen and becomes employed one year later, taking night school lessons and studying art. Despite his father and presumably his boyhood friends speaking in a thick East Midlands accent (although his mother does not) he seems to develop an almost unbelievably artiiculate manner of speech. Where does something like “Oh. You make me knit the brows of my very soul and cogitate” come from? It doesn’t ring true to me, although Lawrence himself was obviously very intelligent. Paul Morel lacks his education however.
The seeming oversuse of the word "hate" throughout the text also puzzles me. As an example: "And why did he hate Miriam, and feel so cruel towards her, at the thought of his mother. If Miriam caused his mother suffering then he hated her - and he easily hated her." And this is the girl he is supposedly falling in love with. Perhaps "hate" implied something different almost 100 years ago. Is this an example of semantic drift? I found it disturbing.
Despite these minor irritations I did enjoy reading "Sons and Lovers" and immediately went on to read the unexpurgated version of "Lady Chatterley's Lover" which Lawrence wrote towards the end of his relatively short life while living in Italy. I found that to be a much more enjoyable read.
In the first part of the book, Lawrence tells the story of Gertrude and Walter Morel, their meeting, marriage, his work in the mines, his drinking, the birth of their children, her falling away from him, and her emotional investment in first son William. The second part recounts the death of William and Gertrude's obsession with Paul. This hold she exerts over Paul makes it impossible for him to have any kind of true relationship with another woman, as the women, Miriam and Clara, learn, though Miriam persists in her pursuit even after the death of Mrs. Morel.
In addition to portraying the Gertrude-Paul dynamic, Lawrence gives us an inside look at what life was like in an early 20th century mining town, essentially a company town. Of particular note are the strong relationships of the miners and the miners' families with each other. It's the kind of community spirit of helping each other that seems to have all but vanished in the developed world. Doubtless, it was hardscrabble, but people pulled together, particularly in stressful times.
Lawrence, as those who have read him know, also possessed a knack for depicting male relationships in his later novels. Here, you can see it in the relationship between Paul and Baxter Dawes. Baxter is Clara's husband, from whom she is estranged. He and Paul come to blows. Paul comes up short and badly injured. Later, Baxter has an accident that severely incapacitates him. It is Paul who spends time with him and to whom Baxter reveals himself.
Sons and Lovers (Oxford World's Classics) deserves its place as among the greatest English-language novels. However, it's best appreciated after you've lived some years and experienced your own good and bad relationships.
As for this edition, Oxford World's Classics, a different introduction would probably better serve the reader. Editor David Trotter focuses on literary technique when, perhaps, it might have been more illuminating to show how the novel reflected both Lawrence's life and that period in English social history.