Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Women In Love - D.H. Lawrence

From Wikipedia: Women in Love, published in 1920, is a sequel to his earlier novel The Rainbow (1915), and follows the continuing loves and lives of the Brangwen sisters, Gudrun and Ursula. Gudrun Brangwen, an artist, pursues a destructive relationship with Gerald Crich, an industrialist. Lawrence contrasts this pair with the love that develops between Ursula and Rupert Birkin, an alienated intellectual who articulates many opinions associated with the author. The emotional relationships thus established are given further depth and tension by an intense psychological and physihttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifcal attraction between Gerald and Rupert. The novel ranges over the whole of British society before the time of the First World War and eventually ends high up in the snows of the Tyrolean Alps.

My Thoughts:

I can't say that I enjoyed the story of Women in Love. It strikes me as too prosaic. Nothing in the plot or in the relationships was interesting enough (to me) to warrant an entire novel on the subject.

(I'm willing to concede that I formed this opinion based on a lack of understanding because I haven't read the precursor, The Rainbow. But I'm not willing, at this point, to read that to see if it changes my opinion.)

At times the dialogue made me want to wing the book across the room. It seemed the characters spoke in soliloquies rather than to each other. They would drone on and on, frequently, using language quite unbelievable for casual discourse.

However, I did enjoy Lawrence's choice of language, mainly in his descriptive passages. He has a rare talent for choosing words which provide an underlying feel or emotion to the scene, quite capturing the mood with what's happening among the characters. My only beef is that he used these precise, emotive words over and over again in the scenes. I found myself thinking, "Enough already! I get it!" many times throughout the course of the book.

Also, according to Wikipedia: As with most of Lawrence's works, Women in Love caused controversy over its sexual subject matter. One early reviewer said of it, "I do not claim to be a literary critic, but I know dirt when I smell it, and here is dirt in heaps — festering, putrid heaps which smell to high Heaven."

By today's standards Women in Love is tame, very tame, with much of the sexual tension couched in suggestion and innuendo. And it's these precise suggestions that Lawrence's language evokes. I can understand how the review came to his opinion.