Celebrating the literature and history of the Interwar years.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
Gudrun and Ursula Brangwen are school teachers in the village of Beldover who begin relationships with Gerald Crich and Rupert Birkin, respectively. Women in Love recounts the ups and downs of their courtships, the desire and ambivalence and fear of beginning a new relationship.
I was struck by Lawrence’s stunning and quite brilliant descriptions. He is an expert scene setter, a genius at painting pictures of memorable and gorgeous vividness. The scenes I loved the best were the chapters focusing on nature – the water party and the various descriptions of the snow and ice in Austria.
This book is also has fiercely drawn characters, characters of extremes, characters with all their faults and weaknesses exposed. Lawrence risks readers hating these characters by truthfully portraying their ugliness and darkness. And I have to say I didn’t really like any of the characters as I strove to understand them and found myself arguing with them in my head.
The power struggles between men and women are dismayingly emphasized and left me with the feeling that Lawrence had little hope for the state of marriage or partnerships. The constant wavering and arguments over the meaning of love, the futility of committed relationships, the intense fear that leads to tedious pronouncements by the characters and cringe-worthy decisions is the major thread of the novel.
At first this quote by one of the characters described how I felt about the book:
“I really do not want to be forced into all this criticism and analysis of life. I really do want to see things in their entirety, with their beauty left to them, and their wholeness, their natural holiness.”
On reflection, however, I do believe Lawrence has much of importance to say on the subject of relationships and he brutally depicts the negativity of relations between the sexes in an honest way that I haven’t seen portrayed in quite this way.
In the end, Lawrence’s writing saves the day and will carry a reader through the tough spots (including his ridiculous descriptions of sex) and you’ll come out the other side not being able to forget this passionate book.