Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book 17: Sons and Lovers

I really have no system for picking out which book I am going to read next. I just look at what I have in front of me and choose what I think could be fun. I have also been trying to pick things from all over the map to keep myself (and you) entertained. Like many readers, I need to give myself a variety of things to read or I get bored.

That is how I picked Sons and Lovers. It is 1 of 2 novels by D.H. Lawrence on my list (the other being Lady Chatterley's Lover) and something I thought to be entertaining. And, like a lot of the other titles and authors on my list, it is a book I know next to nothing about.

I am starting to think that my English degree didn't really teach me much of anything, or expose me to as much as it should have.

Anyway, every time I pick up one of these books that I know nothing about I tend to do a little research. Mainly because I like research, but it helps me get a sense of where the author is coming from, and who I can relate him to.

D.H. Lawrence's full name was David Herbert Richards Lawrence, which is quite a mouthful (no wonder he shortened it). He lived around the turn of the 20th century, which happens to be a favorite time period of mine. He wrote a lot about sexuality and modernity, which is a good thing. It keeps me interested.

Also interesting is this quote by E.M. Forster (author of A Room with a View, which was Book #3 on my list-I read it back in September) which was in a obituary notice after Lawrence's death. In that notice, Forster said that Lawrence was;

"The greatest imaginative novelist of our generation."

That is high praise. And considering that Lawrence was also called a pornographer and much of his work was censored, it is also quite a contradiction.

So, needless to say, Lawrence has a lot to live up to. I'm hoping for great things in Sons and Lovers, but I hope it doesn't go the way I am thinking it will based on the information above.

Taken from Barnes and Noble's synopsis;

"Called the most widely-read English novel of the twentieth century, D. H. Lawrence’s largely autobiographical Sons and Lovers tells the story of Paul Morel, a young artist growing into manhood in a British working-class community near the Nottingham coalfields. His mother Gertrude, unhappily married to Paul’s hard-drinking father, devotes all her energies to her other son. They develop a powerful and passionate relationship, but eventually tensions arise when Paul falls in love with a girl and seeks to escape his family ties. Torn between his desire for independence and his abiding attachment to his loving but overbearing mother, Paul struggles to define himself sexually and emotionally through his relationships with two women—the innocent, old-fashioned Miriam Leivers, and the experienced, provocatively modern Clara Dawes.

Heralding Lawrence’s mature period, Sons and Lovers vividly evokes the all-consuming nature of possessive love and sexual attraction. Lushly descriptive and deeply emotional, it is rich in universal truths about human relationships."

I am hoping that this novel offers something for me to think about in regards to my own relationships to my husband and my family, but we'll see. I'm not sure how much I'll have in common with Paul Morel or any of these characters.

I do want to point out one more thing about this novel. In every site I visited to do research, I found the same quote;

"When you have experienced Sons and Lovers you have lived through the agonies of the young Lawrence striving to win free from his old life." Richard Aldington

This is a very autobiographical piece and I sometimes have a hard time reading those. Perhaps I think too much, but I always wonder about the authors and writers who put so much of themselves into their work. Do the people they base their characters off of become offended when they see how they are portrayed? Do they hold back in their descriptions of events to protect the people around them?

In my own writing I always find it hard to base too much on my personal experiences, so it will be interesting to compare the qualities of Paul Morel to that of Lawrence.

And now that I am done rambling and being all over the place, I will end this post.

Happy reading!

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