Context: Listened to this as we used various dugout canoes to travel down the lower reaches of the Watut River in PNG on a language survey.
As I listened to this novel, a great feeling of pleasure came over me. But with the pleasure, I doubted and thus began a terror which grew to overwhelm me. I loved the novel, didn’t I? But as I read more, the love I felt overpowered me. Because I loved it I had to hate it. And in my hate, I came, yet again, to love it; to love beyond hating, with a fear that somehow brought peace and cast me into depths of heights and moved me into stillness as my love hated yet deeper. And thus and so on for hundreds of pages.
Lawrence has fallen a notch on the ladder for me with this one. Lady Chatterley, Sons and Lovers and The Fox are all, in my opinion, great realist novels. But when you take a great ability to convey the feelings of a character and then make a novel, and not a short one, consist almost entirely of negative feelings and little else, you lose me very early on.
I don’t know what life is like when you grow up in Nottinghamshire. But if this novel is at all representative, it must be one of the most depressing and melancholy upbringings one could experience. If this is anything to go by, no matter what might happen to you on the side of good, it will only result in feelings of foreboding. In this novel, every silver lining has a cloud, every character finds themselves helpless to love without hate, unable to take the good without feeling bad, unable to rest without agitation. It’s exhausting.
The novel was banned on publication, not as I expected for being tedious but for being obscene. There’s nothing in it to offend modern sensibilities. Certainly nothing on the level of Chatterley. There are patches of great writing, but on the whole I found this account of the unremarkable lives of several generations of Brangwens melodramatic and unrealistic. For a realist novel, this is a crime. Lawrence goes so far that he is in fact crying out to be ridiculed. Thankfully, I myself don’t need to ridicule it. It’s already been done.
|99TH PAGE QUOTE||