Women in Love (Brangwen Family, #2) by D.H. LawrenceSisters Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen struggle to balance independence, love, and marriage at the start of the twentieth century, in D. Controversial when first published in for its frank treatment of sexual relationships, the novel has since become a classic. In their late twenties when the book opens, the sisters have established independent and comfortable lives. Ursula is a schoolteacher; Gudrun, a sculptor. Gudrun has recently returned to her small hometown from London and finds it stultifying. But the handsome mining heir Gerald Crich gives her pause. Ursula finds herself both captivated and challenged by Rupert Birkin.
Women in Love
The principal defect of this book is that it is difficult to read. It is full of absurdities; but Mr. Lawrence, although he may occasionally repel by egotism, has at least the courage which leads him to risk absurdity for the sake of what he holds to be the truth. The difficulty is another matter. It arises from the static quality of the book, the lack of momentum.
The two greatest novels written in English in the 20th century were published within a year of each other, DH Lawrence's Women in Love in , James Joyce's Ulysses in - not coincidentally if one accepts that new centuries brew up an infection of creative fervency. Both novels had been preoccupying their writers for many years, and both are nominally set before or apart from the first world war: Ulysses in a hour period in , Women in Love we are not entirely sure when, though there is, in the final pages, a lightning-bolt reference to the Kaiser's washing his hands of the catastrophe - " Ich habe es nicht gewollt " "I didn't intend this to happen" - and it is impossible to escape the conclusion that the longing for newness and change that pervades the novel is a response to the ruination of war. Neither writer cared much for the other's work. And Lawrence, who was better at vituperation, returned the compliment with interest, calling Joyce "a clumsy olla putrida. Of the earlier novel he had this to say: "I am sorry but I am one of those people who can't read Ulysses. Only bits. But I am glad I have seen the book, since in Europe they usually mention us together.
Lawrence , Biography and memoirs , Letters , , , , Literature and literary criticism , Fiction , Novels. But Women in Love is a cathartic novel too, though here the sickness is less easy to cure. The sickness itself is obvious enough: it is misanthropy, a continuous rage at almost everyone around. Is it just a flaw within Birkin, or does the infection come from without, from a pestilent civilisation? Is Birkin spiteful and morbid, like a Dostoevskian hero; or is he a tunnel canary, warning a complacent world that a poisonous element is spreading through its foundations? Lawrence goes far to stack the dice against Birkin and make him a hero who is hard to like. He surrounds Birkin with intimates — Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, Hermione Roddice, Gerald Crich — who keep telling him that he is a crackpot preacher who should face up to his own unhappy consciousness.
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