Women in Love (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Women in Love, by D. H. Lawrence, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

One of the most versatile and influential figures in twentieth-century literature, D. H. Lawrence was a master craftsman and profound thinker whose celebration of sexuality in an over-intellectualized world opened the door to that topic for countless writers after him.

Perhaps his finest novel, Women in Love (1920) continues the story of two sisters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, who first appeared in Lawrence’s novel The Rainbow (1915). The story contrasts the passionate love affairs of Ursula and Rupert Birkin, a character often seen as a self-portrait of Lawrence, with that of Gudrun and Gerald Crich, an icily handsome mining industrialist. Birkin, an introspective misanthrope, struggles to reconcile his metaphysical drive for self-fulfillment with Ursula’s practical view of sentimental passion. As they fight their way through to a mutually satisfying relationship—and eventual marriage—Gudrun and Crich’s sadomasochistic love affair careens toward a disastrous conclusion.

A dark, disturbing, yet beautiful exploration of love in an increasingly violent and destructive world, Women in Love nevertheless holds out the hope of individual and collective rebirth through human intensity and passion.

Norman Loftis is a poet, novelist, essayist, philosopher, and filmmaker. His works include Exiles and Voyages (poetry, 1969), Black Anima (poetry, 1973), Life Force (novel, 1982), From Barbarism to Decadence (1984), and Condition Zero (1993). His feature films include Schaman (1984), the award-winning Small Time (1989), and Messenger (1995). He is currently Chair of the Department of Literature at the Brooklyn Campus of the College of New Rochelle and is on the faculty at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, where he has taught since 1970.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Norman Loftis is a poet, novelist, essayist, philosopher, and filmmaker. His works include Exiles and Voyages (poetry, 1969), Black Anima (poetry, 1973), Life Force (novel, 1982), From Barbarism to Decadence (1984), and Condition Zero (1993). His feature films include Schaman (1984), the award-winning Small Time (1989), and Messenger (1995). He is currently Chair of the Department of Literature at the Brooklyn Campus of the College of New Rochelle and is on the faculty at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, where he has taught since 1970.

Biography

Born in Nottinghamshire, England, D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) was the author of a remarkable array of novels, stories, poetry, literary criticism, and travel writing, including the novels Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, and Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      David Herbert Richard Lawrence. Called "Bert" by his family. Jessie Chambers and Lawrence H. Davison are pseudonyms.
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 11, 1885
    2. Place of Birth:
      Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England
    1. Date of Death:
      March 2, 1930
    2. Place of Death:
      Vence, France

Read an Excerpt

From Norman Loftis’s Introduction to Women in Love

According to theologian and scholar C. S. Lewis, in his book The Allegory of Love, the history of romantic love dates back only to about the year 1000 A.D. Even if Lewis is just referencing the origins of true love as a tradition, it is still quite an extravagant claim. After all, we know from history, earlier literature, and even the Bible that the emotion we call love certainly existed as far back as we can document. Even certain animals, like some birds, mate for life, a fact that cannot be accounted for by reproductive instincts alone. Yet love, as portrayed in classical literature, is a very disruptive emotion, often linked, as it is in Hamlet, with madness. In earlier times, it would have been unthinkable, as it still is in some regions of the world even today, for one to marry just because one claimed to be in love. According to Lewis, the troubadours, medieval poets from southern France and northern Spain and Italy, began the process of validating romantic love. They went from castle to castle serenading the ladies of the place with poems that begged for “mercy” that their “suffering” might be eased.

Italian poet Dante Alighieri was a great exponent of romantic love. In The Divine Comedy, Dante literally goes through Hell for Beatrice, the woman he loves. Then he goes through Purgatory and Heaven. At the end of this emotional and spiritual journey, the poet is rewarded with a vision of a blinding sun, symbolizing God and perfect understanding. It is not unfair to say that, after the appearance of The Divine Comedy, romantic love began to take on a new status in the Western world. It eventually became acceptable to marry on the basis of one’s emotions for a particular person, though of course this did not happen overnight. The tradition of true love during Dante’s time remained essentially an adulterous one. Dante never married Beatrice, and he himself was married to somebody else. Even three centuries later, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet were having a hard time of it, though thanks to an amiable priest who took pity on the young lovers, they succeeded in marrying. Predictably, they experienced tragedy afterward.

Gradually, however, romantic love triumphed, and its influence remains very much intact to this day. This is not to say that everyone has been in perfect agreement with the progress of romantic love. During the twentieth century, in particular, some of the components of true love began to be called into question. Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard, in his existentialist masterwork Either/Or, begins to question the sincerity of an eternal love. May it not, Kierkegaard enquired, be more sincere, instead of pledging to love your beloved forever and forever and forever, to vow to love her until Easter or May Day, and if that works out, to renew the vow until Christmas? In contemporary popular culture, Tina Turner takes this a step further by asking, in her wildly successful song, “What’s Love Got Do with It?” However, this does not necessarily mean that true love has fallen from its pedestal but only that it has had to contend with certain heresies and palace uprisings.

As with any tradition, things can become a bit stale. As Samuel Beckett put it, “Habit is a great deadener.” D. H. Lawrence completed Women in Love in 1916, just about the time romantic love was getting a little frayed around the edges. There are several things that influenced Lawrence in writing this novel. One major factor was that Lawrence himself was very much in love. In 1912 he had met Frieda Weekley, then married to Ernest Weekley, Lawrence’s former professor, to whom Lawrence had gone for help in finding a teaching position abroad. Lawrence and Frieda fell in love, and he convinced her to go away with him—for life. Another influence was England itself, which Lawrence found repressive, its traditions worn out, its emotional, spiritual, and political life stale and unedifying. There was yet another influence, which does not appear to be recorded, nor is it clear the extent to which Lawrence himself was aware of it. We know from Lawrence’s friend Jessie Chambers that the two read Symbolist poetry together. When Lawrence was working for his teaching degree, he studied French literature at the University of Nottingham under Ernest Weekley. Lawrence mentions specifically the poetry of Paul Verlaine in Sons and Lovers. Nowhere, though, it seems, does Lawrence speak directly of the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, and yet among all the Symbolists, it is Rimbaud’s ideas that seem closest to those of Lawrence. Rimbaud wrote these lines, which coincide with Lawrence’s attitude about modern love, particularly as it relates to his own writing of Women in Love: “I do not like women: love must be reinvented, that’s obvious. A secure position is all they’re capable of desiring now. Security once gained, heart and beauty are set aside: cold disdain alone is left, the food of marriage today” (Rimbaud, “Delirium I,” p. 39; see “For Further Reading”).

Women in Love is Lawrence’s manifesto on the reinvention of modern love, and it was in many ways as much of a bombshell as was The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx. Afterward, there would be modern and contemporary writers who would rival Lawrence, but none who surpassed him in this area. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby shows the undeniable influence of Lawrence in its treatment of the jaded rich, symbolized by Tom, and their dangerous ideas about race and culture, which are opposed by Gatsby, the symbol of romantic love. However, one could not imagine Gatsby questioning the meaning of modern love nor the tradition from which it sprang.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 87 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 88 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2001

    An endless human cycle

    Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence is a sequel, but knowledge of The Rainbow is not necessary to appreciate the second novel. The title is somewhat misleading, as it is really about women and men, men and women, and men and men¿and it's not always clear with what they are in love. It is the tale of two teachers, sisters Gudrun and Ursula Brangwen, the son of the local mine owner, Gerald Crich, and school inspector Rupert Birkin. Their complex relationships start to take shape the day of Gerald's sister's wedding, as Gudrun and Gerald and Ursula and Rupert are drawn together, often despite themselves. The Gudrun/Gerald relationship becomes a series of conflicts that are won only temporarily and that lead to more conflicts and then temporary reprieves of tenderness and sex. His emotional conflicts with Gudrun are mirrored in Gerald's dealings with animals; he brutally forces his mare to stay at a railroad crossing despite her terror until blood is drawn and until the cars have passed. Later, when his sister's rabbit resists being picked up so he can be sketched, Gerald punches him in the head so he will submit instantly. His blind will must triumph in all. The only time that he and Gudrun seem to find an equilibrium is when they balance each other by accepting but not gravitating toward each other. It becomes a tenuous relatonship at best and a dangerous one at worst. Gerald is incapable of love, as is his brooding mother. Meanwhile, Ursula finds herself in a different kind of battle, with Rupert and his self-contemptous philosophies about relationships, death, and the will. His vision of love, if he even believes it exists, is of two planets circling one another in perfect equilibrium. He did not find that with his former lover Hermione, who does not satisfy his physical desires and who does not calibrate with his spiritual needs. At the end of the novel, he reinforces what he has said all along¿his love will always have a missing component and be incomplete without it. As a side note, Rupert seems to be Lawrence's own mouthpiece, reflecting many of his own views. As with Lady Chatterley's lover, the setting for Women in Love becomes a character¿the grimy village, the sordid town, the sullen miners and their wives provide a backdrop of inevitable modernization and dehumanization that counterbalances the individual stories. As mining is mechanized to death, so is the human soul. The will either accepts the inevitable crush of the modern world or fights it to the death. The weakest part of Women in Love may be when the setting changes, that is, when the couples decide to leave all that England has become and to take their relationships and their futures to the Alps, where they find art truly does imitate life with its mechanism. The novel seems to lose a little of its footing at this point, giving in to its tendency to become an intellectual exercise in the arts rather than a human story in a regimented world. Women in Love starts out slowly, as a lengthy series of vignettes and conversations that seem unlikely or unrealistic, but develops a crescendo as the battles begin. In the end, despite dramatic events and drastic changes, the conundrums remain, and even Ursula's persistence and will cannot eliminate them now, let alone forever. Women in Love is about destruction and regeneration in an endless cycle and the human under the surface that we are not entirely aware of and cannot express.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2002

    More aptly titled "What is Love?"

    It is hard to give a definite thumbs-up or thumbs-down to this this story. On the one hand, it is very disjointed. It is filled with many long inner monologues that have no relationship with each other. The ending is bizarre and unsatisfying. On the other hand, the writing is brilliant and beautiful. When there is diaglogue and interaction between the characters, the story comes back to life. The study of human nature, and the differences in what all people (not just men vs. women) want in love is very insightful. It is certainly not a book for everyone.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2000

    Confusing

    This book is confusing from the first page and up. I read it for school and I don't recomend it to anyone in high school. The main character in this book is strange and doesn't know what he wants , I found myself angry every time I read it.

    4 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2001

    Lawrence thinks ahead of his time

    By far what I found most interesting about this novel was the relationship between Gerald and Birkin. These two men are involved in an emotional dependency...that sometimes verges on erotic...but they are unsure of what do do with their feelings, in light of social propriety and the current age in which they live. The last two pages of the novel, to me, make the book worth reading. It totally sums up the entire book in a seemingly simple conversation between Birkin and his wife Ursula. Why shouldn't he be allowed a different kind of love? Why isn't this the way? Why is it considered unnatural? Makes you think.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2014

    Dated and to my taste tedious

    I am not a fan of his at the best of times and the three is for classic literature that was once coniidered daring and rated x and banned in boston m.a.@sparta

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2014

    AspenFeather

    She walked over and laied with him

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2014

    Faloneye

    Hello. He lied down. Care to join me?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    Makes you think

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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