“Sex is just another form of talk, where you act words instead of saying them.
Lawerence’s last novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover is one of most challenged works– on account of its use of then unprintable words. Its free publishing was one of the main events of sexual revolution of 1960s. And okay, I mean it is a great book but what will you say to a book that has conversations like these:
‘Well, young man, and what about my daughter?’
The grin flickered on Mellors’ face.
‘Well, Sir, and what about her?’
‘You’ve got a baby in her all right.’
‘I have that honour!’ grinned Mellors.
‘Honour, by God!’ Sir Malcolm gave a little squirting laugh, and became Scotch and lewd. ‘Honour! How was the going, eh? Good, my boy, what?’
‘I’ll bet it was! Ha-ha! My daughter, chip of the old block,what! I never went back on a good bit of fucking, myself. Though her mother, oh, holy saints!
… Did I tell you the daughter in question is already married to another man? And believe me, it is a very modest sample compared to what this book contains.
Emma and Connie
Connie Chatterley sometimes reminds you of Emma Bovary. The similarity is not only limited to Adulatary but goes beyond. They both willingly married and to the men much than older themselves and both find themselves frustrated in their marriage. They are both well learnt specially for their time – Emma used to read romantic novels while Connie actually can and like to discuss intellectual subjects.
And now for the differences – Connie’s adultery is less revolting and she find at least a few supporters and lovers who won’t desert her. Emma’s frustration was because of her adventurous spirit, her romantic needs. Connie already had enough of adventures by the time she was married, lovers and all.
No, Connie’s needs are far more simple – all she need is sex. The novel starts when Clifford, her husband, returned home, being paralysed from the waist down due to a war injury. Connie is forced to take care of him and is full of sexual frustration (it might be the first book that brings out the concept):
“A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.”
Incomplete People and Imperfect Relationships
“In the short summer night she learnt so much. She would have thought a woman would have died of shame. Instead of which, the shame died. Shame, which is fear: the deep organic shame, the old, old physical fear which crouches in the bodily roots of us, and can only be chased away by the sensual fire, at last it was roused up and routed by the phallic hunt of the man, and she came to the very heart of the jungle of herself.
All Connie’s lovers as well as other characters in story were incomplete in one way or other – though she may count Mellers as an exception. Tommy Dukes, for example, never has a relationship because he cannot find a woman whom he respects intellectually and, at the same time, finds desirable. Clifford’s physical disability might be a metaphor.
And since people are incomplete, so are the relationships. There are marry-and-be-done-with-it types, some fear being hated by their lovers, others want to bully them, still others let themselves be bullied, yet others who make face and want to pretend they are a happy couple. All Connie’s pre-marital affairs were mere intellectual as far as she was concerned – where physical act played only a secondary role. This view changed to the other extreme by the end of novel. She is disgusted by her husband’s idol-worshiping herwhich was result of his possessiveness. She is again disgusted by need people feel to mask everything by poetry.
There is a lot of sex in it – both theories and practical. Connie struggles trying to find out the right way to life – living among all those theories and discussions which Clifford’s friends air in the get to gathers at her house. Though don’t take it for mere erotica, it is more of a person’s discovery’s of life’s truths which had been veiled from her by the moral hypocrisy of humanity:
“I believe the life of the body is a greater reality than the life of the mind: when the body is really wakened to life. But so many people, like your famous wind-machine, have only got minds tacked on to their physical corpses.’
He looked at her in wonder. ‘The life of the body,’ he said, ‘is just the life of the animals.’
‘And that’s better than the life of professional corpses. But it’s not true! the human body is only just coming to real life. With the Greeks it gave a lovely flicker, then Plato and Aristotle killed it, and Jesus finished it off. But now the body is coming really to life, it is really rising from the tomb. And It will be a lovely, lovely life in the lovely universe, the life of the human body.’
And of course, Lawrence has a lovely prose – willing to look at his own story from different angles; full of psychological insights; on the negative side he can be hazardously wrong on many things, can be repetitive, and does talk a lot – sometimes stupidly offending people but in the end see,s to be honest in a certain way.
“when the emotional soul receives a wounding shock, which does not kill the body, the soul seems to recover as the body recovers. But this is only appearance. It is really only the mechanism of the re-assumed habit. Slowly, slowly the wound to the soul begins to make itself felt, like a bruise, which only slowly deepens its terrible ache, till it fills all the psyche. And when we think we have recovered and forgotten, it is then that the terrible after-effects have to be encountered at their worst.