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Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence

Sons and Lovers (1913)

by D. H. Lawrence

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,43561597 (3.59)2 / 249



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English (58)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
First published more than a century ago (around 1913), it's no wonder that SONS & LOVERS has become a classic.

The repetitiveness of the writing (if I had to read once more how "bitter" one of the characters were, or how much one character "hated" another I'd have screamed!) did not detract from the sheer brilliance of Lawrence's characterisations of the slyly poisonous mother and her castrating effect on the men in her life.

Gertrude Morel's disappointment in her marriage to the rough miner Walter Morel (the character I felt most sympathy for) soured her into becoming a manipulating, horrible woman who lived out her romantic fantasies through her sons.

First, her eldest son William who, in his struggle for an identity and life separate from his mother's passions, almost broke free of her control by choosing a wildly inappropriate lover. His unhappiness had tragic consequences, which turned Mrs Morel's hopes onto her son Paul, the main character of the book.

Sensitive, romantic, artistic Paul was a sitting duck for his mother's emotional blackmail: the inner battle he waged trying to establish some sort of manhood and masculine identity under her powerful influence drives the story forward. Ultimately, it led him into cruel power struggles with the two lovers in his life. He treats both Miriam and Clara shockingly, reflecting the emotional abuse his mother inflicts on both her sons and her husband.

SONS & LOVERS is worth the struggle to read : the language is dated and requires concentration and, as mentioned above, there is a lot of repetition. The descriptions of life in a mining village, the poverty, the daily struggles were, however, well depicted (and resonated deeply as I come from a 3-generation mining family).

However, there is so much spite and anger underlying the story it was almost an unpleasant read, leaving a sour taste in my mouth. To see how damaging a mother’s influence can be, not only for her son, but for his lovers as well, made for painful, if interesting, reading.

Lawrence's depiction of the relationship between Paul and his mother, of how Mrs Morel subtly and selfishly uses her immense personal power (disguised as a fragile and delicate femininity) to set up her sons in opposition to their father, is a masterpiece in describing the psychological phenomenon known as the Oedipus complex. This gripping aspect of the story is what kept me reading and is why I highly recommend SONS & LOVERS. ( )
  JudyCroome | Oct 27, 2014 |
It took me approximately 500 years to read this book. Partly because it was long, partly because it was slow in places, but mostly because my copy of the book (where did I get it? and why did I bother?) was full of underlines and notes in the margin. Clearly, it was an assigned text, I'm going to guess high school (really? what were they thinking?), and whoever was forced to read this book found it as tedious as I found their notations. I kept telling myself not to read them, but couldn't help it, and they were SO INSIPID that I would have to put the book down in disgust. (Real life example: "hyper-sensitiveness" is underlined -- in the margin it says "sensitivity to an extreme degree.")

Really, I should have ditched this copy and found another, because it's hard for me to differentiate my impatience with the text from my impatience with the notes. But I kept plodding slowly on. And I did find things to admire. Lawrence's sentences and descriptions are skilled and often beautiful. But for all the descriptiveness and detail in just how the relationships between people get so tortured and complicated, I never really felt like I understood or could empathize with any individual character directly. Maybe Mr. Morel I understood the best, which is odd, because he clearly seemed designed to be the least sympathetic.

I don't know. Towards the end I found myself moved by the book, but now, a few weeks later, I feel very meh about it all. ( )
  greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
This book...

Ugh, I can't really think of enough bad things to say about it.

It was boring. It was insanely sexist. The main character was a selfish jerk with very few redeeming qualities. There was no plot. Women were used as plot devices at best, plot devices that were generally responsible for all the ills in the world. Abusive men were forgiven and the women blamed in their place. The main character used women for mindless sex and then got angry at the women when they didn't want to "belong" to him. In addition, I wasn't overly impressed with the writing style, blah. It was flowery and stupid at some points, while being repetitive and banal in other places.

A terrible, terrible book. ( )
  sammii507 | Aug 19, 2014 |
Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence was published a hundred years ago, in 1913. As many see Lawrence as one of the exponents of modernism, the lapse of time of a century allows for a more balanced appreciation, which may show that Lawrence early work still had many characteristics of the traditional novel, so much so that Stella Gibbons also particularly targeted Lawrence in her parody Cold Comfort Farm.

In Sons and Lovers Lawrence explores various sides of human love relationships, particularly in the social setting of the backward rural-industrial proletariat. While apparently Mrs Morel hold her husband, who works as a collier in the mines, in contempt, their bonds of love are at least as strong as their bond of marriage, and the view that Mrs Morel might not love her husband, are the result of the way Paul Morel views that relation.

Paul Morel, the main character in the novel, grows up in poverty. The story of the novel is seen through his eyes. This perspective creates the raw, apparently loveless view of the relationship between his parents, and Paul's relation to his mother gradually takes the form of Paul being his mother's eye-apple while Paul grows up as a protective "mother-lover".

As Paul grows up and benefits from getting an education, under his mother's care he is able to develop his artistic talent as a painter. The education and his talent enable him to literally "open his eyes" and see new possibilities, and other ways of life. This is reflected in the novel's writing which becomes increasingly lyrical and beautiful, as the reader sees the world through Paul's eyes.

Paul's first love is a farm girl whom he has known for a long time. Their relationship evolves out of Miriam's shared love for books, and Paul's admiration for her attempts to learn French. However, when Paul meets the much more emancipated Clara Dawes he passionately falls in love with her. Clara is older than Paul, and has a husband. Baxter Dawes is a lowly character, but very jealous, and he comes after Paul attempting to kill him as they fight. Their struggle is a powerful description of the opposing powers of Baxter's brute and primitive love versus Paul's agility and spiritual love. However, Clara's love for Paul is adulterous, and like the deep and mysterious love that kept Mrs Morel married to her husband, the paradox of love-hate keeps Clara and Baxter together, which means she cannot leave Baxter for Paul. In the meantime, Paul has dropped Miriam. Their separation is described with all the cruelty on Paul's part to create a rough separation, hurting Miriam's feelings deeply to sever their love-relation, while later on Paul attempts to mold their relationship into one of Platonic love. Paul wants Miriam to remain a friend, but not a lover.

At the end of the novel, Paul Morel is alone. His mother has died, and neither of his two lovers, Miriam and Clara, are what he wants. The end of the novel, while dark, shows that Paul is, barely, able to turn away from his background, the love of his mother, and the land, and turn towards the light, moving to the city where a new lifestyle beckons, and, probably, new chances.

Written more than a hundred years ago, Sons and Lovers, a bulky novel, has many characteristics of modern novels, especially a lot of Freudian symbolism. Restored editions give the reader the full sense of the modern character of the novel, and the open, realistic way relationships are described. ( )
  edwinbcn | Dec 31, 2013 |
This book...

Ugh, I can't really think of enough bad things to say about it.

It was boring. It was insanely sexist. The main character was a selfish jerk with very few redeeming qualities. There was no plot. Women were used as plot devices at best, plot devices that were generally responsible for all the ills in the world. Abusive men were forgiven and the women blamed in their place. The main character used women for mindless sex and then got angry at the women when they didn't want to "belong" to him. In addition, I wasn't overly impressed with the writing style, blah. It was flowery and stupid at some points, while being repetitive and banal in other places.

A terrible, terrible book. ( )
  Anniik | Sep 7, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lawrence, D. H.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anderson, BarbaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baron, CarlEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baron, HelenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beal, AnthonyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blake, VictoriaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brotherus, AuneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cancogni, FrancaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daly, MacdonaldEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de la Plaza, LuisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
DeMott, BenjaminIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Durov, ValerieEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dyer, GeoffIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eyre, Sir RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fournier-Pargoire, JeanneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Francioli, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gelli, PieroIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, JamesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilpin, SamAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gopegui, BelénForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Halson, GeoffreyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hilská, KateřinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ilona, RónaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jackson, DennisAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kazin, AlfredIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kliphuis, J.F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kristensen, TomTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martínez-Lage, MiguelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morrison, BlakeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moynahan, JulianEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nordon, PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oeser, Hans-ChristianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robinson, SheilaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sagar, KeithIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slack, PaulNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sterlin, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, BobIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trotter, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Venning, ChristopherEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375753737, Paperback)

Sons and Lovers was the first modern portrayal of a phenomenon that later, thanks to Freud, became easily recognizable as the Oedipus complex. Never was a son more indentured to his mother's love and full of hatred for his father than Paul Morel, D.H. Lawrence's young protagonist. Never, that is, except perhaps Lawrence himself. In his 1913 novel he grappled with the discordant loves that haunted him all his life--for his spiritual childhood sweetheart, here called Miriam, and for his mother, whom he transformed into Mrs. Morel. It is, by Lawrence's own account, a book aimed at depicting this woman's grasp: "as her sons grow up she selects them as lovers--first the eldest, then the second. These sons are urged into life by their reciprocal love of their mother--urged on and on. But when they come to manhood, they can't love, because their mother is the strongest power in their lives."

Of course, Mrs. Morel takes neither of her two elder sons (the first of whom dies early, which further intensifies her grip on Paul) as a literal lover, but nonetheless her psychological snare is immense. She loathes Paul's Miriam from the start, understanding that the girl's deep love of her son will oust her: "She's not like an ordinary woman, who can leave me my share in him. She wants to absorb him." Meanwhile, Paul plays his part with equal fervor, incapable of committing himself in either direction: "Why did his mother sit at home and suffer?... And why did he hate Miriam, and feel so cruel towards her, at the thought of his mother. If Miriam caused his mother suffering, then he hated her--and he easily hated her." Soon thereafter he even confesses to his mother: "I really don't love her. I talk to her, but I want to come home to you."

The result of all this is that Paul throws Miriam over for a married suffragette, Clara Dawes, who fulfills the sexual component of his ascent to manhood but leaves him, as ever, without a complete relationship to challenge his love for his mother. As Paul voyages from the working-class mining world to the spheres of commerce and art (he has fair success as a painter), he accepts that his own achievements must be equally his mother's. "There was so much to come out of him. Life for her was rich with promise. She was to see herself fulfilled... All his work was hers."

The cycles of Paul's relationships with these three women are terrifying at times, and Lawrence does nothing to dim their intensity. Nor does he shirk in his vivid, sensuous descriptions of the landscape that offers up its blossoms and beasts and "shimmeriness" to Paul's sensitive spirit. Sons and Lovers lays fully bare the souls of men and earth. Few books tell such whole, complicated truths about the permutations of love as resolutely without resolution. It's nothing short of searing to be brushed by humanity in this manner. --Melanie Rehak

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:28 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

"Sons and Lovers is one of the landmark novels of the twentieth century. When it appeared in 1913, it was immediately recognized as the first great modern restatement of the oedipal drama, and it is now widely considered the major work of D.H. Lawrence's early period. This intensely autobiographical novel recounts the story of Paul Morel, a young artist growing to manhood in a British working-class family rife with conflict. The author's vivid evocation of the all-consuming nature of possessive love and sexual attraction makes this one of his most powerful novels."--Jacket.… (more)

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

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441445, 0141199857

Urban Romantics

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