Sons and Loversby D. H. Lawrence
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D.H. Lawrence's great autobiographical novel is a provocative portrait of an artist torn between love for his possessive mother and desire for two young beautiful women. Set in the Nottinghamshire coal fields of Lawrence's own boyhood, the story of young Paul Morel's growing into manhood in a British working-class family rife with conflict reveals both an inner and an outer world seething with intense emotions. Gertrude is Paul's puritanical mother who concentrates all her love and attention on her son Paul. She nurtures his talents as a painter - and when she broods that he might marry someday and desert her, he swears he will never leave her. Inevitably, Paul does fall in love, but with two women - and is unable to choose between them. Written early in Lawrence's literary career, Sons and Lovers possesses all the powers of description, insistent sensuality, and scathing social criticism that are the special hallmarks of his genius. "A work of striking originality," writes the critic F.R. Leavis, by "the greatest creative writer in English of our time."
"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
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The Early Married Life of the Morels
“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 & 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.
"I told you!" he said, running to the dresser for his cap.
"Take your pudding in your hand–and it's only five past one, so you were wrong–you haven't got your twopence," cried the mother in a breath.
The boy came back, bitterly disappointed, for his twopence, then went off without a word.
"I want to go, I want to go," said Annie, beginning to cry.
"Well, and you shall go, whining, wizzening little stick!" said the mother. And later in the afternoon she trudged up the hill under the tall hedge with her child. The hay was gathered from the fields, and cattle were turned on to the eddish. It was warm, peaceful.
Mrs. Morel did not like the wakes. There were two sets of horses, one going by steam, one pulled round by a pony; three organs were grinding, and there came odd cracks of pistol-shots, fearful screeching of the cocoanut man's rattle, shouts of the Aunt Sally man, screeches from the peep-show lady. The mother perceived her son gazing enraptured outside the Lion Wallace booth, at the pictures of this famous lion that had killed a negro and maimed for life two white men. She left him alone, and went to get Annie a spin of toffee. Presently the lad stood in front of her, wildly excited.
"You never said you was coming–isn't the' a lot of things?–that lion's killed three men–I've spent my tuppence–an' look here."
He pulled from his pocket two egg-cups, with pink moss-roses on them.
"I got these from that stall where y'ave ter get them marbles in them holes. An' I got these two in two goes–'aepenny a go–they've got moss-roses on, look here. I wanted these."
She knew he wanted them for her.
"H'm!" she said, pleased. "They are pretty!"
"Shall you carry 'em, 'cause I'm frightened o' breakin' 'em?"
He was tipful of excitement now she had come, led her about the ground, showed her everything. Then, at the peep-show, she explained the pictures, in a sort of story, to which he listened as if spellbound. He would not leave her. All the time he stuck close to her, bristling with a small boy's pride of her. For no other woman looked such a lady as she did, in her little black bonnet and her cloak. She smiled when she saw women she knew. When she was tired she said to her son:
"Well, are you coming now, or later?"
"Are you goin' a'ready?" he cried, his face full of reproach.
"Already? It is past four, I know."
"What are you goin' a'ready for?" he lamented.
"You needn't come if you don't want," she said.
And she went slowly away with her little girl, whilst her son stood watching her, cut to the heart to let her go, and yet unable to leave the wakes. As she crossed the open ground in front of the Moon and Stars she heard men shouting, and smelled the beer, and hurried a little, thinking her husband was probably in the bar.
At about half-past six her son came home, tired now, rather pale, and somewhat wretched. He was miserable, though he did not know it, because he had let her go alone. Since she had gone, he had not enjoyed his wakes.
"Has my dad been?" he asked.
"No," said the mother.
"He's helping to wait at the Moon and Stars. I seed him through that black tin stuff wi' holes in, on the window, wi' his sleeves rolled up."
"Ha!" exclaimed the mother shortly. "He's got no money. An' he'll be satisfied if he gets his 'lowance, whether they give him more or not."
When the light was fading, and Mrs. Morel could see no more to sew, she rose and went to the door. Everywhere was the sound of excitement, the restlessness of the holiday, that at last infected her. She went out into the side garden. Women were coming home from the wakes, the children hugging a white lamb with green legs, or a wooden horse. Occasionally a man lurched past, almost as full as he could carry. Sometimes a good husband came along with his family, peacefully. But usually the women and children were alone. The stay-at-home mothers stood gossiping at the corners of the alley, as the twilight sank, folding their arms under their white aprons.
Mrs. Morel was alone, but she was used to it. Her son and her little girl slept upstairs; so, it seemed, her home was there behind her, fixed and stable. But she felt wretched with the coming child. The world seemed a dreary place, where nothing else would happen for her–at least until William grew up. But for herself, nothing but this dreary endurance–till the children grew up. And the children! She could not afford to have this third. She did not want it. The father was serving beer in a public house, swilling himself drunk. She despised him, and was tied to him. This coming child was too much for her. If it were not for William and Annie, she was sick of it, the struggle with poverty and ugliness and meanness.
She went into the front garden, feeling too heavy to take herself out, yet unable to stay indoors. The heat suffocated her. And looking ahead, the prospect of her life made her feel as if she were buried alive.
The front garden was a small square with a privet hedge. There she stood, trying to soothe herself with the scent of flowers and the fading, beautiful evening. Opposite her small gate was the stile that led uphill, under the tall hedge between the burning glow of the cut pastures. The sky overhead throbbed and pulsed with light. The glow sank quickly off the field; the earth and the hedges smoked dusk. As it grew dark, a ruddy glare came out on the hilltop, and out of the glare the diminished commotion of the fair.
Sometimes, down the trough of darkness formed by the path under the hedges, men came lurching home. One young man lapsed into a run down the steep bit that ended the hill, and went with a crash into the stile. Mrs. Morel shuddered. He picked himself up, swearing viciously, rather pathetically, as if he thought the stile had wanted to hurt him.
She went indoors, wondering if things were never going to alter. She was beginning by now to realise that they would not. She seemed so far away from her girlhood, she wondered if it were the same person walking heavily up the back garden at the Bottoms as had run so lightly up the breakwater at Sheerness ten years before.
"What have I to do with it?" she said to herself. "What have I to do with all this? Even the child I am going to have! It doesn't seem as if I were taken into account."
Sometimes life takes hold of one, carries the body along, accomplishes one's history, and yet is not real, but leaves oneself as it were slurred over.
"I wait," Mrs. Morel said to herself–"I wait, and what I wait for can never come."
Then she straightened the kitchen, lit the lamp, mended the fire, looked out the washing for the next day, and put it to soak. After which she sat down to her sewing. Through the long hours her needle flashed regularly through the stuff. Occasionally she sighed, moving to relieve herself. And all the time she was thinking how to make the most of what she had, for the children's sakes.
At half-past eleven her husband came. His cheeks were very red and very shiny above his black moustache. His head nodded slightly. He was pleased with himself.
"Oh! Oh! waitin' for me, lass? I've bin 'elpin' Anthony, an' what's think he's gen me? Nowt b'r a lousy hae'fcrown, an' that's ivry penny–"
"He thinks you've made the rest up in beer," she said shortly.
"An' I 'aven't–that I 'aven't. You b'lieve me, I've 'ad very little this day, I have an' all." His voice went tender. "Here, an' I browt thee a bit o' brandysnap, an' a cocoanut for th' children." He laid the gingerbread and the cocoanut, a hairy object, on the table. "Nay, tha niver said thankyer for nowt i' thy life, did ter?"
As a compromise, she picked up the cocoanut and shook it, to see if it had any milk.
"It's a good 'un, you may back yer life o' that. I got it fra' Bill Hodgkisson. 'Bill,' I says, 'tha non wants them three nuts, does ter? Arena ter for gi'ein' me one for my bit of a lad an' wench?' 'I ham, Walter, my lad,' 'e says; 'ta'e which on 'em ter's a mind.' An' so I took one, an' thanked 'im. I didn't like ter shake it afore 'is eyes, but 'e says, 'Tha'd better ma'e sure it's a good un, Walt.' An' so, yer see, I knowed it was. He's a nice chap, is Bill Hodgkisson, 'e's a nice chap!"
"A man will part with anything so long as he's drunk, and you're drunk along with him," said Mrs. Morel.
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Praise for D.H. Lawrence
“The greatest imaginative novelist of our generation.”—E. M. Forster
“He was a language, a setting, a world entirely of his own...He was, like all true poetry, against tepid living and tepid loves…[giving] full expression to the gestures of passion.”—Anaïs Nin
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 his year-long courtship of Frieda in Germany and Italy. Sons and Lovers 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. Lawrence and Frieda married in London in July 1914, immediately after Frieda's divorce became final;
they 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 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, Lawrence wrote The Rainbow and Women in Love. 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 reunited with 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. Lawrence was an avid amateur painter, and 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.
- Date of Birth:
- September 11, 1885
- Date of Death:
- March 2, 1930
- Place of Birth:
- Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England
- Place of Death:
- Vence, France
- Nottingham University College, teacher training certificate, 1908
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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.
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.
Wanted to read for awhile now...others in series
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.