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Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

Women in Love (1920)

by D. H. Lawrence

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Brangwen Family (2)

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English (22)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (24)
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Spurred by my current Anaïs Nin obsession, I picked up [b:Women in Love|9784|Women in Love|D.H. Lawrence|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1166062620s/9784.jpg|3302695] (Nin did a critical study of [a:D.H. Lawrence|17623|D.H. Lawrence|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1278173884p2/17623.jpg] early in her career). Burned through a third of it on a long plan ride from New Orleans to Oakland. I am in pursuit of a lineage and a vindication (permission?) for doing work that deals with emotions, relationships - that which is written "from the blood", as Lawrence would say.

It has also been a long while since I have read a novel from what might glibly be called the age of novels (or one of the ages of novels; post WWI, post telegraph - pre Enduring Freedom, pre twitter). For me, childhood through say just post-adolescence was a time of serious patience for consuming long novels, akin almost to language acquisition in early childhood. So I am also revisiting a method of reading specific to a type of book that I have since moved away from.

I am also interested in the construction of gender identity in literature and the history and construction of romantic love.

At this point I realize I've said little about the actual book. Lawrence has moments of rhapsodic prose, punctuated by painstaking character creation mainly effected with dialogue.

More on this as I have time! ( )
  oh_that_zoe | May 21, 2015 |
A disappointing read. It is disjointed and does not flow well. A possibly repressed homosexuality (or is it normal masculine sensuality?) pervades the book. Too contrived to work. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
I loved being in the realm of this book, though I'm not sure what I think of the ending. ( )
  AminaMemory | Mar 31, 2013 |
Infuriating at every turn, but I'm still glad I read it. Was pretty sure this was all the Lawrence I'd ever have to read, but I was wrong. ( )
  idlerking | Mar 31, 2013 |
Lawrence wrote Women in Love as a sequel to The Rainbow, continuing on with the story of the Brangwen sisters Ursula and Gudrun. It picks up where he left off, with the sisters in their mid-twenties, and Gudrun asking Ursula if she truly does not want to get married and have children. Soon both are involved with men, Ursula with intellectual school inspector Rupert Birkin and Gudrun with an heir to a coal-mine, Gerald Crich.

Lawrence was a bitter man when he wrote the book, following censorship of The Rainbow and the deepening of the atrocities in WWI. Women in Love is darker and less optimistic as a result, and the alienated Birkin is widely held to represent Lawrence. The relationships of both couples are stormy to say the least, and as with Lawrence’s other books, sexual desire, subconscious forces, and the dark side of the relationship between men and women is on full display. He is also open about homosexual desire, this time between men, which apparently reflected his own apparent real-life romance with a farmer while writing the book.

At his best, Lawrence creates scenes which last in the reader’s memory. For me the best of these in Women in Love was when Ursula and Birkin are out for a drive and pull over to have a giant fight, pause briefly as a bicyclist pedals by, and then resume to have her throwing his gift of three rings into his face and walking off down the road. At his worst, Lawrence is too heavy in his prose and in his cynicism; a lighter touch here would have been more effective.

On brotherhood:
“Your democracy is an absolute lie – your brotherhood of man is a pure falsity, if you apply it further than the mathematical abstraction. We all drank milk first, we all eat bread and meat, we all want to ride in motor-cars – therein lies the beginning and the end of the brotherhood of man. But no equality.”

On childhood:
“Oh God, could one bear it, this past which was gone down the abyss? Could she bear, that it ever had been! She looked round this silent, upper world of snow and stars and powerful cold. There was another world, like views on a magic lantern: the Marsh, Cossethay, Ilkeston, lit up with a common, unreal light. There was a shadowy, unreal Ursula, a whole shadow-play of an unreal life. It was as unreal, and circumscribed, as a magic-lantern show. She wished the slides could all be broken. She wished it could be gone for ever, like a lantern-slide which is broken. She wanted to have no past. She wanted to have come down from the slopes of heaven to this place, with Birkin, not to have toiled out of the murk of her childhood and her upbringing, slowly, all soiled.”

On death:
“But the great, dark illimitable kingdom of death, there humanity was put to scorn. So much they could do upon earth, the multifarious little gods that they were. But the kingdom of death put them all to scorn, they dwindled into their true vulgar silliness in face of it.”

On knowledge:
“If I know about the flower, don’t I lose the flower and have only the knowledge? Aren’t we exchanging the substance for the shadow, aren’t we forfeiting life for this dead quantity of knowledge? And what does it mean to me, after all? What does all this knowledge mean to me? It means nothing.”

On love, and solitude:
“At the very last, one is alone, beyond the influence of love. There is a real impersonal me, that is beyond love, beyond any emotional relationship. So it is with you. But we want to delude ourselves that love is the root. It isn’t. It is only the branches. The root is beyond love, a naked kind of isolation, an isolated me, that does not meet and mingle, and never can.”

On life:
“…how known it all was, like a game with the figures set out, the same figures, the Queen of chess, the knights, the pawns, the same now as they were hundreds of years ago, the same figures moving round in one of the innumerable permutations that make up the game. But the game is known, its going on is like a madness, it is so exhausted.”

And this one, which I love:
“She thought of the Marsh, the old, intimate farm-life at Cossethay. My God, how far was she projected from her childhood, how far was she still to go! In one life-time one travelled through aeons. The great chasm of memory, from her childhood in the intimate country surroundings of Cossethay and the Marsh Farm – she remembered the servant Tillly, who used to give her bread and butter sprinkled with brown sugar, in the old living-room where the grandfather clock had two pink roses in a basked painted above the figures on the face – and now, when she was travelling into the unknown with Birkin, an utter stranger – was so great, that it seemed she had no identity, that the child she had been, playing in Cossethay churchyard, was a little creature of history, not really herself.”

On rambling:
“At moments it seemed to him he did not care a straw whether Ursula or Hermione or anybody else existed or did not exist. Why bother! Why strive for a coherent, satisfied life? Why not drift on in a series of accidents – like a picaresque novel? Why not? Why bother about human relationships? Why take them seriously – male or female? Why form any serious questions at all? Why not be casual, drifting along, taking all for what it was worth?” ( )
1 vote gbill | Nov 15, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
D. H. Lawrenceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldington, RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peccinotti, HarriPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, LyndaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen sat one morning in the window-bay of their father’s house in Beldover, working and talking. Ursula was stitching a piece of brightly-coloured embroidery, and Gudrun was drawing upon a board which she held on her knee. They were mostly silent, talking as their thoughts strayed through their minds.
"No man," said Birkin, "cuts another man's throat unless he wants to cut it, and unless the other man wants it cutting. This is a complete truth. It takes two people to make a murder: a murderer and a murderee. And a murderee is a man who is murderable. And a man who is murderable is a man who in a profound in hidden lust desires to be murdered." p.30
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"Women in Love" was written in the years before and during World War I. Criticized for its exploration of human sexuality, the novel is filled with symbolism and poetry -- and is compulsively entertaining.

The story opens with sisters Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, characters who also appeared in "The Rainbow," discussing marriage, then walking through a haunting landscape ruined by coal mines, smoking factories, and sooty dwellings. Soon Gudrun will choose Gerald, the icily handsome mining industrialist, as her lover; Ursula will become involved with Birkin, a school inspector -- and an erotic interweaving of souls and bodies begins. One couple will find love, the other death, in Lawrence's lush, powerfully crafted fifth novel, one of his masterpieces and the work that may best convey his beliefs about sex, love, and humankind's ongoing struggle between the forces of destruction and life.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141441542, Paperback)

Two of D. H. Lawrence's most renowned novels-now with new packages and new introductions

Widely regarded as D. H. Lawrence's greatest novel, Women in Love continues where The Rainbow left off, with the third generation of the Brangwens. Focusing on Ursula Brangwen and her sister Gudrun's relationships-the former with a school inspector and the latter with an industrialist and then a sculptor-Women in Love is a powerful, sexually explicit depiction of the destructiveness of human relations.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:42 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Ursula and Gudrun are very different sisters who become entangled with two friends, Rupert and Gerald, who live in their hometown. The bonds between the couples quickly become intense and passionate but whether this passion is creative or destructive is unclear.… (more)

» see all 16 descriptions

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7 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441542, 0451530799

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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