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Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

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I know it's a couple of days early, but I thought I'd set up the thread for discussing our Reading Circle choice for July - a hot and steamy novel to raise the temperatures for those of us having a not so hot British summer! :(

 

Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

Constance Chatterley feels trapped in her sexless marriage to the invalid Sir Clifford. Unable to fulfill his wife emotionally or physically, Clifford encourages her to have a liaison with a man of their own class. But Connie is attracted instead to her husband's gamekeeper and embarks on a passionate affair that brings new life to her stifled existence. Can she find a true equality with Mellors, despite the vast gulf between their positions in society? One of the most controversial novels in English literature, Lady Chatterley's Lover is an erotically charged and psychologically powerful depiction of adult relationships.

 

Some questions to consider:

1- Who was your favourite character and why?

2- Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

3- Was this the first book you've read in this genre/ by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

4- Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

5- Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

 

(You do not have to answer all, or indeed, any, of these questions, they are meant only as points for you to perhaps mull over as you read, and provoke more discussion. Please feel free to ask and answer any questions that come up as you read.)

 

I hope you'll all enjoy reading Lady Chatterley's Lover - I'm sure it will be a real conversation-starter!

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I was reading the introduction to this - it needed an introduction at the time to make sure that no one thought it was a dirty book. I bet no one would think of doing that in today's world.

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I know that this book was banned for many years. It's not just the sex scenes between Connie and Mellors, but the frank discussion about sex, even in one of the first chapters that makes the book so provacative. I'm almost to page 100 now, and it's definitely heating up! The sexual tension between the two lovers is becoming intense.

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This is one of those books that you never knew if you were 'allowed' to read it or not. It's amazing that it was banned for so long and the effects one book can have.

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I'm only a few pages in (I sneaked a peak while I was in the bath), so I'll not be giving away any plot points (hence no need to use spoiler tags), but I just wanted to mention that the instant impression that has come to me is that D. H. Lawrence had a profound respect for women, seeing them as intelligent, rational, capable creatures with an innate sense and love of freedom.

 

One quote that really leapt out at me from page 2 and gave me a warm chuckle was in mentioning the youth of Constance and her sister:

 

"The had been sent to Dresden at the age of fifteen, for music among other things. And they had had a good time there. They lived freely among the students, they argued with men over philosophical, sociological and artistic matters, they were just as good as the men themselves: only better, since they were women."

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That's something I noticed as well. He seems to be really in tune with the way women think and shows a lot of respect for their capacities to think and feel. It often seems that he makes a point to show more derision toward the men in the book, equating them with the "society" that he obviously sees as flawed. It makes sense, too, because men were really in charge of that society.

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First Impressions:

I just finished the first two chapters and I am enchanted by the writing style, the descriptions of how people are is very fun.

My copy has plenty of words emphasized by "quotes" and even some CAPS, which is uncommon today and pretty ...er ... quaint. Also my copy must be a text book since it has a huge opening section (which I skipped) and a huge introduction (which I skipped) and a lot of footnotes, explanations of unique words (bath-chair, for example) - I don't mind this at all.

 

I have no idea what happens in the book (yay-oh-yay) but my cover has a naked woman in a bed looking ... uh ... relaxed, with a man getting dressed in a white shirt as he looks at her. I'll take a picture later, maybe we can compare covers. Or ... between the sheets, lol. (sorry all)

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If I remember rightly. Lawrence was very close to his mother, and was well aware of her lifestyle. So he was aware of womens' feelings almost inately.

 

I haven't started yet, as I can't find my copy. But I will do soon. This is the book which springs to mind when people talk of banned books. I prefer Women in Love and The Rainbow though.

 

Pp

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I think I'll read this along with you this month. I have read it before (twice I think) but a long time ago. I have it in big DH Lawrence anthology. It will be great to discuss it with you all.

 

I like the idea of comparing covers! I guess the covers will have changed dramatically over the years!

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My copy is one of the Wordsworth Classics series and looks like THIS.

 

I'm part way through Chapter 3 and have an observation to make, so I'll put it in spoiler tags for those who haven't got that far yet:

 

 

Although Constance seems to genuinely care for her husband, it surprises me that she shows absolutely no guilt over sleeping with Michaelis -even going so far as to say to Michaelis, "I don't want Clifford to know... not even to suspect. It would hurt him so much. But I don't think it's wrong, do you?"

 

She seems to be able to separate emotion and affection from the act of having sex in a way that isn't normally portrayed in female characters of this era -certainly not in such a sympathetic light.

 

I find this a very interesting approach, especially from a male author born in the tale-end of the 19th Century!

 

 

Of course, if you're past that point or don't mind seeing my thoughts before you read that point in the book, feel free to take a peek!

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My library copy had a picture of a man (just the middle of his torso, no head etc) undoing his belt on his trousers. Rather to tthe main subject :hyper:

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I have the Penguin version, a naked female torso covered with leaves. It's a bit obscure, but eye catching at the same time.

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My library copy had a picture of a man (just the middle of his torso, no head etc) undoing his belt on his trousers.

Would that be THIS cover then?

 

I have the Penguin version, a naked female torso covered with leaves.

And I think yours looks like THIS.

 

It's quite interesting looking at all the different covers and trying to work out the target audience of each of the publishers from it...

 

From what I can gather, there were actually three different versions of the novel published at various times and it's said that the 2nd version is the most explicit. I'm now wondering which version I have!

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I know this is a double post, but it's back to discussion of the book, rather than the cover, so I wanted to separate them.

 

This time a couple of observations/questions regarding Chapter 4:

When the four men are talking, it is mentioned that talking intellectually to a woman should be no different to sleeping with her.

 

They “perform” better with Constance in the room (albeit silently). Are they then, by their own intellectual standards, making love to her in Clifford's stead? Is he, in a way, being complicit, even at this early stage, in her being with other men?

Conversely, this seems to be contradicted within the same chapter: Marriage is spoken of in terms of labels of ownership between spouses, with them each becoming an extension of the other.

 

As Clifford is, due to his disability, sexless, is Constance then sexless by extension? Is this why, Tommy Dukes can say "sh*t" in front of Constance, despite claiming to be unable to do so in front of a woman? Is she considered, in this way, an “un-woman”?

 

I just wondered what impressions/thoughts, if any, anyone else had on this subject...

 

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It also struck me when Dukes was able to curse in front of Connie, when he has just stated that he wasn't able to. I also noticed that when she speaks up, they look at her with resentment, as if she wasn't supposed to make her presence known at all.

 

One thing that she describes is how unused her body, her womb are, as if she has no use to Clifford or to anyone else as a woman, just as a presence. You can tell that Clifford feels this way when he so adamantly wants her to stay with him, but doesn't care if she has an affair. She's not a woman to him, she's just his wife.

 

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Picked a copy up from the library last night and the cover is different to all the ones mentioned. It's a naked lady on a bed but half sat, half lying and her limbs are strategically positioned. Quite a racy cover for a library version!

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My cover shows a lady in a pink slip with her hands cupped under her belly and a man pressing against her back, with his nose in her hair and his hands around her wrists.

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I've read the first four chapters now and I have to say Mr. DH is very "wordy", the discussions by the men almost feel like satire though I think our author is gently mocking the culture as much as allowing the characters to make a point.

New to me euphemisms are just great, I chuckled at the choice of "crisis", for example. Now I giggle at news flashes on the television, "Crisis in Hollywood!"

 

Ever since George said, "I have to go the euphemism" in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - I've cherished each and every example I come across in literature.

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Wrath - I've been doing exactly the same thing over "crisis"! :hyper: He does seem to persist in that phrase. I'm enjoying his descriptiveness though - it's quite poetic and flowing.

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Yes, that word "crisis" is a little strange! But I agree that the author's style is very easy to read and flows nicely. However, I've also found that he repeats himself quite a bit, especially in a descriptive paragraph. Has anyone else noticed this?

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However, I've also found that he repeats himself quite a bit, especially in a descriptive paragraph. Has anyone else noticed this?

I noticed that - it seems to be most often when someone's having a bit of an inner dialogue - almost like the character is talking to themselves. It feels like they're reassuring themselves that something is so. Surprisingly, I quite like this tactic on this occasion - usually it would drive me round the twist!

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I noticed that - it seems to be most often when someone's having a bit of an inner dialogue - almost like the character is talking to themselves. It feels like they're reassuring themselves that something is so. Surprisingly, I quite like this tactic on this occasion - usually it would drive me round the twist!

 

I'm not sure about driving me round the twist, but it sure is distracting! For the most part, though, I have found Lawrence's descriptions of the Midlands to be beautiful, even though he's describing a pretty bleak landscape. He captures the mood beautifully, and I love how he ties it in with Connie's feelings.

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I noticed that - it seems to be most often when someone's having a bit of an inner dialogue - almost like the character is talking to themselves. It feels like they're reassuring themselves that something is so. Surprisingly, I quite like this tactic on this occasion - usually it would drive me round the twist!

 

That's an interesting observation - I'll tune my reader's eye to see if I notice that as well.

 

The things that make me pause while reading are the broad assumptions, almost saying "and that is how women are" or "that is what men think". I'll blink and wonder, wow - that's a big leap from whatever was the prior line.

 

If you follow Uncle Wrath's postings, you'd know I jump on tangents quite a bit -- I'd prefer to think it's the product of a keen mind rather than distracted by "ohhhh, bright, shiny!"

 

My current tangents from reading this book is that I am beginning to wonder about the discussions of the men while Connie is in the room - that it takes a certain feeling of privilege to candidly discuss intimate details with such cardboard candor and to not treasure things that are commonly weighty; like sex with another partner.

 

The other tangent that I might explore is the brief discussion about things industrial because I think the period that the book is written in the world is still reeling from the impact of factories to the extent that there were art movements based just on that. So, the context which some of these statements and assumptions may need to be understood in the time of writing. I dunno, I'll look into it - stuff like that makes the book just a little more enjoyable.

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