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Women in Love (1920)

by D. H. Lawrence

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Brangwen Family (2)

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6,958541,306 (3.55)286
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Dive into a provocative coming-of-age story that challenged the vestiges of England's Edwardian-era sexual mores. A continuation of a fictional arc that D.H. Lawrence began in a previous novel, The Rainbow, Women in Love explores the romantic entanglements and love affairs of the sisters Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen.

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» See also 286 mentions

English (49)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  Piratical (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Phew. Finally finished.
It's a tough one to get through. A lot of profound, accurate theses throughout, but what the book is about and how it is strung together is a bit above my head. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Dec 24, 2023 |
D.H. Lawrence's novel about the hopelessness of attaining ideal love. I imagine him inspired by arguments with Frieda Weekley that match the scene of the twenty-third chapter, 'Excurse' - in which Ursula and Birkin have their petty fight that is brilliant for its verisimilitude - and feeling that love is really only a hopeless joyride of emotional pinnacles alternating with illogical battles, so let's write a novel about that.

Unfortunately that chapter features all the verisimilitude I could find, and the only part I felt he got right. I can't relate to Lawrence's way of thinking, or his characters' way of thinking, whichever it may be. These thoughts and conversations do not seem realistic to me. The characters are oppressed by everything that matters - beauty, love, knowledge, family, society, each other. The only thing they let stand is their questing after an undefined "truth" and wrestling with whatever that means. I'd only read "Sons and Lovers" prior, many years ago, and came here to give Lawrence a second chance. This is supposed to be his best work. Why then, the amateur mistake of diving headfirst into philosophical arguments among characters I haven't yet gotten to know well enough to bother my head about what they're arguing about? Yet it is only through their (tedious) arguing that I was able to compose their respective characters. It took me a hundred pages just to begin understanding the five leads and their differences.

Birkin is unsure what he believes in, he only knows he doesn't like the world as it presents itself. He wants ultimate truth and purity, something that lies beyond everyday emotions, but he can't define it to his or anyone else's satisfaction. His love match Ursula is more traditional, believing in the power of love that conquers all and as an end in itself. Her competitor Hermione is the most self-centered, viewing the world as a structure built around herself to which all must align or be brought into alignment by her will. Ursula's sister Gudrun is sensitive to the drawbacks of being a woman, desirous of freedom, jealous of men's power. Her love interest Gerald views the world as an industrialist might, to be used at his pleasure, but having accomplished that he finds himself at a loss. He also appears to be wrestling with his homosexuality, which he is unable to recognize or assert. None of these characters succeed at finding full satisfaction in love, or are able to fully equate the word 'love' with the concept their hearts yearn for.

All well and good. But then, as they act this out, some absurd emotional twist happens, like Ursula's sudden descent into ruminations on death and inexplicable hatred for Birkin out of nowhere, and I think I just don't understand what Lawrence is doing at all. He wants to splash a dose of realism over the picture of romantic love, fine; but does realism have to mean irrationalism? Or is he saying women are just plain irrational and that's the whole problem? Because only a couple of chapters later, for no reason (again) Ursula has done another flip: "he had lost his significance, he scarcely mattered in her world." No hate, no nothing. Another chapter: now he's off to France without her, so now she's going to die without him. Oh, please. Is this the best and most convincing way to demonstrate the flaws of 'ideal love' through narrative? And it isn't just the women. The men don't exhibit these sudden twists but get caught up in their determined desires for something beyond the immediacy of what love has to offer, and obsess over it. I might buy Lawrence's hypothesis, but these 'proofs' are useless. There's no realism in this realism.

Then there's the irritating language he uses. He's reluctant to portray the act of falling in love, preferring to it the idea of placing others under one's power. I've never known an author to so generously use the word "loins". Everything between your waist and your knees is your loins, according to Lawrence. Perhaps that's as daring as he could manage prior to Lady Chatterley? And the dialogue tags that grate on my nerves, with people crying out, jeering and retorting all over the place. Nope, can't do Lawrence anymore. ( )
  Cecrow | Sep 17, 2023 |
Towards the end of the book there's a scene where the pussum and her friend group reads Birkin's letter and they all talk about how great it is. I couldn't read through this part, the fact the author circle-jerked his own writing skills with fictional characters, even having them call the letter as good as the bible, was somewhat pathetic.

The author also seems to have an obsession with describing the characters actions as "unconscious" (?) or "electric"...you're not a philosopher, Lawrence! Quit it! ( )
  ubgle | Aug 6, 2023 |
This novel explores the lives and loves of the Brangwen sisters as introduced in the previous work The Rainbow. (You don't have to read The Rainbow first.) This is an exquisitely written story that questions and examines the roles men and women play in their lives and with each other. The wider societal expectations are also addressed. Scholars say Lawrence was trying to show the ill effects of industrialization on the psyche, but for my early 20's mind it was simply a drama-filled story about complicated people and relationships. It totally turned me on to Modernist literature. ( )
  Andy5185 | Jul 9, 2023 |
This is the sort of book where nobody talks about the weather, or the headlines, or the latest scandal. Instead, all conversations have deep and portentous Symbolic Intent. This is the sort of book where characters will frequently lapse into silence as they look to the horizon and feel oppressed by the subtle machinations of society.

Judging from this book, Lawrence's three favorite words are "abstract," "voluptuous," and "loins." ( )
  proustbot | Jun 19, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (80 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lawrence, D. H.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldington, RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farmer, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kinkead-Weekes, MarkEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Loftis, NormanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCaddon, WandaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peccinotti, HarriCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Räbel, Petra-SusanneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slack, PaulNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Storoni Mazzolani, LidiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vasey, LindethEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, LyndaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Worthen, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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."
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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Dive into a provocative coming-of-age story that challenged the vestiges of England's Edwardian-era sexual mores. A continuation of a fictional arc that D.H. Lawrence began in a previous novel, The Rainbow, Women in Love explores the romantic entanglements and love affairs of the sisters Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen.


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Book description
"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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Average: (3.55)
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1 30
1.5 4
2 74
2.5 19
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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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