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The Virgin and the Gipsy Paperback – June 2, 1992
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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 Herbert Lawrence (11 September 1885 - 2 March 1930) was an important and controversial English writer of the 20th century, whose prolific and diverse output included novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays, travel books, paintings, translations, literary criticism and personal letters. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, sexuality, and instinctive behaviour. Lawrence's unsettling opinions earned him many enemies and he endured hardships, official persecution, censorship and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile he called his "savage pilgrimage." At the time of his death, his public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents. E. M. Forster, in an obituary notice, challenged this widely held view, describing him as "the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation." Later, the influential Cambridge critic F. R. Leavis championed both his artistic integrity and his moral seriousness, placing much of Lawrence's fiction within the canonical "great tradition" of the English novel. He is now generally valued as a visionary thinker and a significant representative of modernism in English literature, although some feminists object to the attitudes toward women and sexuality found in his works. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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She comes across a Gypsy and she falls deeply and viscerally in love with him. Yet, she is coy and she is proper about it. Although she badly wishes to be with him, she understands the potential scandal of such a union. Her father being one that is a non-believer, despite his position as the rector; she sees his revulsion for those things of the body. The rector's wife had left him for an impoverished boy. She sought something the rector just could not provide to her. Even though she was his everything, he was not able to make her feel the love she wished deeply even to her bones.
Her daughter too felt that there was more than just the future she envisioned. She felt that it was not a matter that could be ignored. It was a matter that had to be satisfied and soon. But how to do so, without being seen as a prostitute by her own family; that was the mystery and the beauty of the book.
Finally, amongst a great flood and terror that is more frightful than can be imagined, she finds herself with the Gypsy in her own bedroom, safe from the outside world of people because of the isolation and protection afforded by an unanticipated flood. Here she makes the passionate love to him that she had heretofore only dreamed about. Here she becomes a woman, and becomes a lover at the same time.
As always, Lawrence fills the text with serious metaphor and memory. He uses symbolism, systematically revealing the undercurrents of his character's huge love and anticipation with thinly veiled double entendres and images. This book is specifically recommended for Lawrence readers, but in addition, the book is highly recommended to those seeking love and those fulfilled in love.
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. The rector has two daughters, Lucille and Yvette, 20 and 19, who have part of their mother's genes in them (her mother had abandoned the rector and her two young children, to take off with a lover). The two daughters dream of escape from the boredom and unhappiness of home life, as so many others have, also from time immemorial. Like Picasso, who could draw an entire picture with 13 or so lines, Lawrence deftly draws his own scathing portrait of this family situation with a few well-chosen sentences.
Enter the Gipsy. Tall, dark, exotic. The strong Ying and Yang elements are at play. Borrow a little from Greek drama, and have a "prophesy" from a fortune told. The Gipsy is more than just a "hunk," though, as Lawrence provides some background that demonstrates some character, which might be useful in the end. It is inevitable, right? Well, Lawrence pulls a brilliant "seduction interruptus," and prolongs the action, as it were. And when I am in the climatic phase of the book, I go, wait a minute... I've been here before. Certainly not in these particulars, but I have seen the movie!! The Virgin And The Gypsy [DVD] . Almost forty years ago, and I had forgotten it, but it is hard to forget completely such a dramatic ending. I dare say that normally women initiate (or are initiated) into the art of love-making in far less traumatic circumstances.
This work would be an excellent introduction to Lawrence, for those who have yet to read him. 5-stars.
UPDATE: I'd like to think that the administration at UNM's ears were burning, but they apparently have re-opened the Lawrence ranch BEFORE I posted this review. Currently, it is open on a limited basis, three days a week, commencing with the beginning of July, through October.
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Discovered in France after D. H. Lawrence's death and never finalized by the author, The Virgin and the Gipsy is the...Read more