Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take itD H Lawrence
tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among
the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have
new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no
smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble
over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many
skies have fallen.
Begins D H Lawrence narrating a tale which upon its publication resulted in a lawsuit for its publisher Penguin — the judgement went in Penguin’s favour but that didn’t stop it from being banned in several countries for its pornographic and crude content. No wonder the banning and all the negative publicity resulted in the book’s huge success worldwide.
D H Lawrence was suffering from Tuberculosis when he wrote it. Although he wrote four versions of it. And his marriage with Frieda, a spirited woman who was having an affair with another man was in shambles. She had accused Lawrence of being impotent and a failure at satisfying her physical needs. Strangely, as Lawrence neared death and probably felt the acute lack of tenderness in his life, he thought of titling the novel as Tenderness.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover stands out for its detailed description of sex scenes; the almost romantic chronicling of love-making and the physical form and the use of unthinkable (in the 1920s) four-letter words. This book which became synonymous with D H Lawrence – despite his indubitable contribution to prose and verse earned him respect as a revolutionary and fearless writer and brickbats by many who considered him a sex-obsessed writer.
Now to the story. The story is quite simple, really. Clifford Chatterley who loves Constance marries her after honeymooning for a month in Europe. Later when he becomes an invalid (his lower body being paralyzed permanently) he settles with his wife in his father’s seat as the Baroness in a forlorn home and with an insufficient income.
Constance, a country girl with soft blue eyes, curly brown hair and a womanly body is a thorough-bred provincial young woman who is accustomed to the ways of cosmopolitan provincialism. She and her sister Hilda are experienced in the ways of love and sex.
Clifford, a big man with broad shoulders despite being an invalid is of a happy temperament and is quite confident about himself and his marital relationship. Although he does turn sensitive, unsure and helpless at times owing to his physical handicap. He views physical intimacy as an adjunct or an accident and takes pride in the closeness he shares with Constance or Connie.
When they come to live in the lonely and large Wragby Hall, they feel cornered by the hostile colliers and villagers living nearby. Resentful at first, the Chatterley’s with time harden themselves to the hostility of the country people. Throwing light on the class divide, Lawrence writes:
Gulf impassable, and a quiet sort of resentment on either side. …A strange denial of the common pulse of humanity.
Clifford indulges in writing short stories and thinks highly of his writing talent. To bolster his ego and revel in the appreciation that is showered on him, he calls writers, critics and many other intellectuals to his residence. Connie participates in the beginning, but with time feels increasingly disconnected. This disconnection leads to a maddening restlessness that craves for physical intimacy. Wholeheartedly.
At this ripe moment, enters Mellors, the gamekeeper, an ex army man, in his late thirties, who despite being a gamekeeper seems to be different — like someone who has the potential to do better; whose manners are refined and who has experienced life. And Connie notices it.
Henceforth, begins an affair between Connie and Mellors which forms the central theme of this novel. Filled with exquisitely described physical scenes which ensnares the reader with its unwavering focus on the intensity and absurdity of love, Lawrence makes a winning case for the need for physicality in love. As Connie moves away from her husband, owing to her affair with Mellors, he finds solace in the companionship and care of Mrs Bolton, the caretaker who belongs to the country and is from lower strata.
What happens to Connie and Mellors? Do they find their silver lining? Read this erotic classic to find out.
- Nailing the aspect of touch in human relationships. With love being no exception.
- The chemistry between Lady Chatterley and Mellors.
- Exploration of taboo subjects at that time. Extramarital relationships and sex.
- The focus on class divide and industrialization.
- The writing. Unpretentious. Captivating. Timeless.
- Lawrence’s misreading of the female anatomy, particularly of the clitoris.
- The glaring contradiction of his situation and his fictitious creation. Well, not a miss really.
Watch the trailer of Lady Chatterley’s Lover