Almost three to four years ago, I first came across Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence. I tried to read it, yes I did. But I guess I was not in the right frame of mind to read it the way it was meant to be. Nevertheless, I picked up the book in August last year and finally got around to reading it a month back. And I must confess, it’s left me in a pickle.
This book was once on the banned books list and Penguin even had to face an obscenity trial back. First published in 1928, it was published with all its ‘obscene’ sections only in 1960. Of course, apart from what might be going in your head, it’s a good practice to dip into this list of books and make quite a personal library out of it. It’s remarkable what one may learn from such books and the changing notions of accepted behavior for men and women in society. Also, The Giver, which I’ve mentioned in a post earlier this month, was also banned.
The story revolves around a certain Connie Reid who comes from an affluent, yet bohemian background. She’s been brought up on art and literature, and has had sexual relations as a young lady. Connie marries Clifford Chatterley, an aristocrat, who however gets injured in the war and is paralysed from the waist down. The couple lives in an estate that’s surrounded by nature but is being overtaken by industrialisation. The excessive mining and factories have lent an air suspended with metals.
This offers an environment that suffocates. Clifford has eased into his situation, but Connie yearns for more. With a husband who is incapable of satisfying her needs, whose strict upper class notions are despised by Connie, Lady Chatterley ends up wanting and searching for more. Even her husband’s friends have their sophisticated airs that Connie wishes they would give it a rest. For her, they were all talk and no action.
The new gamekeeper, Mellors, keeps to himself and his hut. But chances encounters with the man, lures Connie towards him. At first, Mellors maintains the upper class and working class distinction between the two, but slowly they succumb. Of course, the scenes that followed were quite graphic and I don’t need to repeat them here. Yes. I’m a bit of a prude sometimes, but what matters here that Connie chose to give up her aristocratic life for a man who brings her to life. Connie was yearning for the human touch, the warmth and love that she didn’t find in Clifford. He rather became obsessed with writing, and later, with mining. He followed the intellectual pursuits without having an iota of feeling towards his fellowmen, especially those not of his class. Connie began to despise him. And slowly, while carrying Mellors baby, both Mellors and Connie await divorces from their respective spouses and earnestly long to unite one day.
On one hand, while I understand the need and craving for a human touch, warmth, life and love, a part of me is stubbornly indignant over Clifford’s state of affairs. He’s an invalid. It’s not his fault. The way the story dealt with him, made him such an unfeeling machine compared with Connie and Mellors seemed very much a bias on the part of the author. And, should one be sick or in such a condition, does love come to a swift end? Yes, this is the rainbow-searching soul that speaks out now, but it’s really not Clifford’s fault if he became bitter and unfeeling. His situation made him quite depressive. I know this is not the battle to fight, or I may have lost it already, but can there be no hope for him? At all?
“And however one might sentimentalise it, this sex business was one of the most ancient, sordid connexions and subjections. Poets who glorified it were mostly men. Women had always known there was something better, something higher. And now they knew it more definitely than ever. A beautiful pure freedom of a woman was infinitely more wonderful than any sexual love. The only unfortunate thing was that men lagged so far behind women in the matter. They insisted on the sex thing like dogs.”
This post is part of the eighth annual A to Z Challenge that takes place in the month of April. The theme for this month is ‘Between Pages’. It’s my second attempt at this. Feedback is most welcome, constructive criticism, even more. Share your experiences and let’s enjoy this month of fabulous blogging.