Sons and Lovers: (A Modern Library E-Book)

Sons and Lovers: (A Modern Library E-Book)

3.4 93
by D. H. Lawrence
     
 

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Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

Sons and Lovers is one of the landmark novels of the twentieth century. It was immediately recognized as the first great modern restatement of the oedipal drama when it appeared in 1913 and is widely considered the major work of D. H. Lawrence's early period. This intensely…  See more details below

Overview

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

Sons and Lovers is one of the landmark novels of the twentieth century. It was immediately recognized as the first great modern restatement of the oedipal drama when it appeared in 1913 and is 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 life in a Nottingham mining village in the years before the First World War and his depiction of the all-consuming nature of possessive love and sexual attraction make this one of his most powerful novels.

'Of all Lawrence's work, Sons and Lovers, tells us most about the emotional source of his ideas,' observed Diana Trilling. 'The famous Lawrence theme of the struggle for sexual power--and he is sure that all the struggles of civilized life have their root in this primary contest--is the constantly elaborated statement of the fierce battle which tore Lawrence's family.' For Kate Millett, 'Sons and Lovers is a great novel because it has the ring of something written from deeply felt experience. The past remembered, it conveys more of Lawrence's own knowledge of life than anything else he wrote. His other novels appear somehow artificial beside it.'

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
There is probably no phrase much more hackneyed than that of 'human document,' het it is the only one which at all describes this very unusual book. . . . Although this is a novel of over 500 closely printed pages the style is terse -- so terse that at times it produces an effect as of short, sharp hammer strokes. Yet it is flexible, too, as shown by its success in depicting varying shades of mood, in expressing those more intimate emotions which are so very nearly inexpressible. -- Book of the Century; New York Times review, September 1913
From the Publisher
The Modern Library of the World's Best Books

"No other writer with his imaginative standing has in our time written books that are so open to life."

-- Alfred Kazin

"There is no novel in english literature which comes so close to the skin of life of working class people, for it records their feelings in their own terms."

-- V. S. Pritchett

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679641650
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/01/2000
Series:
Modern Library 100 Best Novels
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
752
Sales rank:
837,362
File size:
574 KB

Read an Excerpt

'The Bottoms' succeeded to 'Hell Row.' Hell Row was a block of thatched, bulging cottages that stood by the brookside on Greenhill Lane. There lived the colliers who worked in the little gin-pits two fields away. The brook ran under the alder trees, scarcely soiled by these small mines, whose coal was drawn to the surface by donkeys that plodded wearily in a circle round a gin. And all over the countryside were these same pits, some of which had been worked in the time of Charles II, the few colliers and the donkeys burrowing down like ants into the earth, making queer mounds and little black places among the corn-fields and the meadows. And the cottages of these coal-miners, in blocks and pairs here and there, together with odd farms and homes of the stockingers, straying over the parish, formed the village of Bestwood.

Then, some sixty years ago, a sudden change took place. The gin-pits were elbowed aside by the large mines of the financiers. The coal and iron field of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire was discovered. Carston, Waite and Co. appeared. Amid tremendous excitement, Lord Palmerston formally opened the company's first mine at Spinney Park, on the edge of Sherwood Forest.

About this time the notorious Hell Row, which through growing old had acquired an evil reputation, was burned down, and much dirt was cleansed away.
Carston, Waite and Co. found they had struck on a good thing, so, down the valleys of the brooks from Selby and Nuttall, new mines were sunk, until soon there were six pits working. From Nuttall, high up on the sandstone among the woods, the railway ran, past the ruined priory of the Carthusians and past Robin Hood's Well, down to Spinney Park, then on to Minton, a large mine among corn-fields; from Minton across the farmlands of the valleyside to Bunker's Hill, branching off there, and running north to Beggarlee and Selby, that looks over at Crich and the hills of Derbyshire: six mines like black studs on the countryside, linked by a loop of fine chain, the railway.

To accommodate the regiments of miners, Carston, Waite and Co. built the Squares, great quadrangles of dwellings on the hillside of Bestwood, and then, in the brook valley, on the site of Hell Row, they erected the Bottoms.

The Bottoms consisted of six blocks of miners' dwellings, two rows of three, like the dots on a blank-six domino, and twelve houses in a block. This double row of dwellings sat at the foot of the rather sharp slope from Bestwood, and looked out, from the attic windows at least, on the slow climb of the valley towards Selby.

The houses themselves were substantial and very decent. One could walk all round, seeing little front gardens with auriculas and saxifrage in the shadow of the bottom block, sweet-williams and pinks in the sunny top block; seeing neat front windows, little porches, little privet hedges, and dormer windows for the attics. But that was outside; that was the view on to the uninhabited parlours of all the colliers' wives. The dwelling-room, the kitchen, was at the back of the house, facing inward between the blocks, looking at a scrubby back garden, and then at the ash-pits. And between the rows, between the long lines of ash-pits, went the alley, where the children played and the women gossiped and the men smoked. So, the actual conditions of living in the Bottoms, that was so well built and that looked so nice, were quite unsavoury because people must live in the kitchen, and the kitchens opened on to that nasty alley of ash-pits.

Mrs. Morel was not anxious to move into the Bottoms, which was already twelve years old and on the downward path, when she descended to it from Bestwood. But it was the best she could do. Moreover, she had an end house in one of the top blocks, and thus had only one neighbour; on the other side an extra strip of garden. And, having an end house, she enjoyed a kind of aristocracy among the other women of the 'between' houses, because her rent was five shillings and sixpence instead of five shillings a week. But this superiority in station was not much consolation to Mrs. Morel.

She was thirty-one years old, and had been married eight years. A rather small woman, of delicate mould but resolute bearing, she shrank a little from the first contact with the Bottoms women. She came down in the July, and in the September expected her third baby.

Her husband was a miner. They had only been in their new home three weeks when the wakes, or fair, began. Morel, she knew, was sure to make a holiday of it. He went off early on the Monday morning, the day of the fair. The two children were highly excited. William, a boy of seven, fled off immediately after breakfast, to prowl round the wakes ground, leaving Annie, who was only five, to whine all morning to go also. Mrs. Morel did her work. She scarcely knew her neighbours yet, and knew no one with whom to trust the little girl. So she promised to take her to the wakes after dinner.

William appeared at half-past twelve. He was a very active lad, fair-haired, freckled, with a touch of the Dane or Norwegian about him.

'Can I have my dinner, mother?' he cried, rushing in with his cap on. 'Cause it begins at half-past one, the man says so.'

'You can have your dinner as soon as it's done,' replied the mother.

'Isn't it done?' he cried, his blue eyes staring at her in indignation. 'Then I&'m goin' be-out it.'

'You'll do nothing of the sort. It will be done in five minutes. It is only half-past twelve.'

'They'll be beginnin',' the boy half cried, half shouted.

'You won't die if they do,' said the mother. 'Besides, it's only half-past twelve, so you've a full hour.'

The lad began hastily to lay the table, and directly the three sat down. They were eating batter-pudding and jam, when the boy jumped off his chair and stood perfectly still. Some distance away could be heard the first small braying of a merry-go-round, and the tooting of a horn. His face quivered as he looked at his mother.

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What People are saying about this

V. S. Pritchett
There is no novel in English literature which comes so close to the skin of life of working-class people, for it records their feelings in their own terms.
Alfred Kazin
No other writer with his imaginative standing has in our time written books that are so open to life.

Meet the Author

D. H. Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England. His father was a coal miner, his mother a former lace worker and unsuccessful haberdasher. He began school just before the age of four, but respiratory illness and a weak constitution forced him to remain home intermittently. Two months before his sixteenth birthday, he went to work as a clerk in a badly ventilated factory that made medical supplies, and eventually contracted pneumonia. After a long convalescence, he got a job as a student teacher, but privately he resolved to become a poet. He began writing seriously in 1906 and entered University College, Nottingham, to earn his teacher's certificate. Two years later he started teaching elementary school full time. He published his first poems in the English Review in 1909. When he contracted pneumonia a second time, he gave up teaching.

His first two novels, The White Peacock and The Trespasser, were published in 1911 and 1912. About three weeks after the publication of The Trespasser, he left England with Frieda Weekley, née von Richthofen, the German wife of Ernest Weekley, a British linguist who had been his French and German instructor at University College. He wrote the final version of his autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers (1913)--begun when his mother was dying of cancer in 1910--during their year-long courtship in Germany and Italy. It was immediately recognized as the first great modern restatement of the oedipal drama, but, like most of Lawrence's novels during his lifetime, sold poorly. They married in London in July 1914, immediately after Frieda's divorce became final, and lived peripatetically and in relative poverty.

They spent World War I in England, a country they both essentially disliked, and endured a series of clumsy surveillance and harassment campaigns by local police because of her nationality (several of her relatives were diplomats, statesmen, and politicians, and she was a distant cousin of Manfred von Richthofen, the 'Red Baron') and his apparent lack of patriotism (among other charges, The Prussian Officer, a collection of stories, published in November 1914, several months after Great Britain entered the war, was considered politically and morally offensive by conservative booksellers). Exempt from active service because of his health, he wrote The Rainbow and Women in Love, arguably his two greatest novels. The former was seized and burned by the police for indecency in November 1915, two months after publication; Lawrence was unable to find a publisher for the latter until six years later. Composition of these two novels coincided with bouts of erratic behavior in Lawrence that bordered on mental instability, sexual confusion and experimentation that threatened to undermine his marriage, and endless health reversals, including a diagnosis of tuberculosis. Twilight in Italy, a collection of acerbic travel essays believed by some to show a sympathy for fascism that became more explicit in, for example, his novel The Plumed Serpent (1926), was published in 1916. He recorded the vicissitudes of his marriage in an autobiographical poem cycle, Look! We Have Come Through (1917).

The Lawrences departed for Europe in late 1919 and spent most of the next two years in Italy and Germany. The Lost Girl, a novel, was published in 1920 and received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize the following year, which also saw the publication of Movements in European History, a text for schoolchildren; Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious, an anti-Freudian tract; Tortoises, a collection of poems; Sea and Sardinia, a travel book; and, belatedly, Women in Love. Early in 1922 he and Frieda went around the world by boat. They visited Ceylon, lived in Australia for a month and a half, and in the summer sailed to America, where they settled in New Mexico. Aaron's Rod, a novel; Fantasia of the Unconscious, a sequel to Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious; and England, My England, a collection of stories, were published that year. In the spring of 1923, after moving to Mexico, he and Frieda separated temporarily. He toured the western United States and briefly returned to Mexico; she moved to London. Kangaroo, his novel of Australia, and Birds, Beasts, and Flowers, a collection of poems, were published in the fall. He returned to Frieda in the winter. They went to New Mexico again in the spring of 1924; he suffered bouts of influenza, malaria, and typhoid fever the next year. The Lawrences eventually resettled in Italy in 1926.

He began writing his last novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover, in 1926. It was published two years later and banned in England and the United States as pornographic. An avid amateur painter, a selection of his paintings--grossly rendered, full-figured representational nudes--was exhibited in London in 1929. The show was raided on July 5 by the police, who removed thirteen of the canvases. Lawrence coincidentally suffered a violent tubercular hemorrhage in Italy the same day. He went to Bavaria to undergo a cure--it was unsuccessful--and in 1930 entered a sanatorium in Vence, France, where treatment similarly failed. He died in a villa in Vence on the night of March 2, a half year short of his forty-fifth birthday, and was buried in a local cemetery. His body was eventually disinterred and cremated, and his ashes transported to Frieda Lawrence's ranch outside Taos, New Mexico. In addition to numerous plays, collections of poetry, and other, lesser known works published during his lifetime, his novels The Virgin and the Gypsy and Mr. Noon were published posthumously.

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Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 11, 1885
Date of Death:
March 2, 1930
Place of Birth:
Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England
Place of Death:
Vence, France
Education:
Nottingham University College, teacher training certificate, 1908

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Sons and Lovers 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book evokes a complete world as very few others I have read. The main characters are so well written you feel you know them, you sympathize with them, you can see them in your mind. It is also is a very sensual book at times. Lawrence creates sexual tension between the romantic leads, and uses natural settings to heighten those tensions. The book is ultimately about the relationships between the members of a family and their friends, and describes those relationships beautifully, but in the end, to me, sadly.
Kat_2010 More than 1 year ago
I read this book for an APLIT project and overall, I thought the book was very good. It was interesting and not hard to read. Some parts drag on a bit and the characters' love affairs can get a little annoying towards the end of the book because it seems as if they can't make up their mind when it comes to being with someone. None the less, I would highly recommend the novel, and although it might take you a while to read, it's worth it.
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Wanted to read for awhile now...others in series
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sons and lovers is book that deals with a middle class British family everyone can relate to a character. The book deals relationships with family and the main character Paul Morel. The book starts of between how the mother and father and then it talks about the children Paul, William, and his sister. Anyway if you want to read about a british family in the nineteen twenty about their every struggles you should read this book. It will make you laugh, some parts will make you mad especially William and his girlfriend.
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