Saturday, June 23, 2012

Is this what you call naughty?


One of the things that never fails to surprise people is when they find out that I'm a huge fan of D. H. Lawrence. Yes, he of the controversial novels that have scandalized people in the early 1900s.

But I have to be honest though, as the reason I picked up my first D. H. Lawrence was to find out if there were really several of these naughty bits in his novels. Unfortunately, what I could find wouldn't be considered 'the good parts' in this day and age. The word 'tame' comes to mind.

However, when I finished my first D. H. Lawrence book and having had a great time reading it, I read another. And with my second, I was already a fan. Now, I consider Women in Love and Sons and Lovers as two of my all-time favorite novels. Who says there aren't any perfect novels? For me, these two titles of Lawrence are as close to perfect as any work of fiction can be.

Since the last 3 books that I finished recently are classics, I figured I might as well read another Lawrence, and I do recall that I have a copy of The Rainbow, whose story precedes Women in Love.

I'm not finished with it yet, but still, I couldn't find parts that would scandalize the reader of today. Consider what happens (excerpt below) during the marriage night of Tom Brangwen and Lydia Lensky.
"I want to," he said as he drew her closer and closer in. She was soothed by the stress of his embrace, and remained quite still, relaxed against him, mingling in to him. And he let himself go from past and future, was reduced to the moment with her. In which he took her and was with her and there was nothing beyond, they were together in an elemental embrace beyond their superficial foreignness. But in the morning he was uneasy again. She was still foreign and unknown to him. Only, within the fear was pride, belief in himself as mate for her. And she, everything forgotten in her new hour of coming to life, radiated vigour and joy, so that he quivered to touch her.
Did you feel any hint of naughtiness in these lines, dear reader? I didn't. I loved the way Lawrence depicted the scene though. So lyrical and introspective, yes?

13 comments:

Jeane said...

Doesn't strike me as naughty at all. I rather like it. I don't care for scenes which are very explicit, but the ones that describe emotional connection (as this does) make a bigger impact on me.

Harvee Lau said...

Lawrence is pretty tame compared to contemporary writers who now flirt with being pornographic and get away with it! Enjoy Lawrence!

Peter S. said...

Hi, Jeane! Yes, same here!

Hello, Harvee! Thanks, I will!

Stepford Mum said...

I've always wanted to read "The Rainbow"! Hay, another book for the TBR...

Peter S. said...

It's a damn good novel, Stepford Mum!

Visual Velocity said...

I've read some of his short stories; haven't started with his novels yet. I bought a cute Penguin Mini Modern Classics of his: Odour of Chrysanthemums.

Peter S. said...

Hello, Visual Velocity! The novels are quite good!

Rise said...

I think I left Women in Love unfinished with two or three chapters to go. I felt that he already made his point clear. I've read a lot of Lawrence novellas in college. Some three or four volumes with four novellas each. Lady Chatterley's Lover contains more explicit sex scenes but I never did finish it too.

Peter S. said...

I have yet to read his novellas, Rise. Interesting info on Lady Chatterley's Lover! Thanks!

Kaz said...

Hi Peter -
Had to laugh - your entree into Lawrence sounds spookily like my own...
I have a sneaking suspicion that more explicit scenes wouldn't have offended the people of Lawrence's time as much as the degree of intimacy in the scene you quoted does... I mean, that much tenderness and deeply personal stuff, IN PRINT???
I love Lawrence, although it's a while since I read any of them (old paperbacks, my eidtions, although not, perhaps, as old and lovely as my Wyndhams!).
K

Peter S. said...

Hello, Kaz! LOL! I love your sense of sarcasm. Hehehehe.

I'm guessing that you have charming editions of Lawrence!

Kaz said...

I should check, but I think my Lawrences were my mother's. She left school early - she had a scholarship that took her so far into high school and no further, and there wasn't money to stay on so she had to leave and get a job. Mad reader though, and she did all sorts of things to self educate. When I was in high school, she started taking matriculation classes, one subject at a time, and I'm pretty sure these paperbacks are from then and she put them in my bookcase when she was done with them.

Peter S. said...

Your mother's values are very admirable, Kaz.