Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Lawrence, D.H. Lady Chatterley’s Lover. New York: Signet Classics, 1959.

Reason read: Let’s talk about sex.

You know a book is trouble when it’s published privately in Italy in 1928 and again in France a year later. It wasn’t published openly to the masses until 1960 when it was promptly banned across the world. The United States, Canada, Australia, India, and Japan all found fault with it. Finally, when it was at the center of a 1960 British obscenity trial, things came to a head. No pun intended. Not really.
Who doesn’t know this story? Lady Chatterley is an attractive upper-class woman married to an equally handsome man who happens to be paralyzed from the waist down. Connie is young, spoiled, and has certain…needs. Her husband says he understands, but a man and wife’s varying perceptions of the same marriage are striking. Clifford Chatterley doesn’t really understand the resentments of his wife. A poignant scene is when Connie watches a mother hen protect her eggs and feels empty. She wants a child. She wants a lover. She finds solace in the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors, who lives on the grounds. His cottage is a short distance from the estate…It is the classic tale of class differences. Lawrence goes a bit further by exploring themes of industrialism (Clifford wants to modernize mining with new technology) and mind-body psychology (the struggle between the heart and mind when it involves sexuality, especially when it is illicit in nature). The ending is ambiguous, as typical of Lawrence’s work, but it ends with hope.

As an aside, I would have liked more insight from Connie’s sister, Hilda. Hilda helped Connie have her affair even though she sided with Clifford Chatterley. Another aside, I have often wondered how many people self-pleasured themselves with Lady Chatterley or her lover. Wink.

Lines I liked, “What the eye doesn’t see and the mind doesn’t know doesn’t exist” (p 18) and “If I could sleep with my arms round you, the ink could stay in the bottle” (p 282). Sigh. So romantic.

Author fact: Lawrence went into self-imposed exile because he refused to stop writing about the human condition. His critics couldn’t handle the truth and often banned or censored his work. Lady Chatterley is rumored to be autobiographical in some places.

Book trivia: The genre for Lady Chatterley’s Lover is literary erotica and yet some libraries (including my own) catalog this in the juvenile section. True story. I happen to be reading the Signet Classic edition which is the only complete unexpurgated version authorized by the Lawrence estate. According to the back cover, “no other edition is entitled to make this claim.”

Nancy said: Pearl included Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the list of “stellar” examples of literary erotica.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Sex and the Single Reader” (p 218).

Fahrenheit 451

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Read by Christopher Hurt. Blackstone Audio, Inc. 2005

Would someone shoot me if I said I had never read Fahrenheit 451 before? Is that something you shouldn’t admit to anyone, ever? It’s a classic. It’s probably Bradbury’s best known work. I have read I Sing the Body Electric and remember it vividly. But who doesn’t know Fahrenheit 451? I mean, come on! Who doesn’t know it? This girl. I didn’t know Fahrenheit. There. I said it. Let’s move on.

I think it goes without saying Fahrenheit 451 was, and still is, controversial. Banned even. The large misconception about Fahrenheit was that it was a commentary on censorship. Oddly enough, Bradbury’s true message is one shared by 10,000 Maniacs in their song “Candy, Everybody Wants.” Television is dulling the mind. Common courtesy and intelligent conversation is going out the window and vanishing like vapor. In Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury puts the root of all evil in the form of books; books that must be burned upon discovery.  This futuristic society employs eight legged mechanical hounds who can sniff out readers and firemen who used to be firefighters but are now fire starters. They are charged with burning the houses suspected of containing books. Guy Montag is one such fire starter. He relishes everything about starting a fire. Like an arsonist he is practically gleeful using the accelerant (kerosene), joyful to be spreading the flames. He loves his job until one day two people change his life. He first meets 17 year old Clarise. Her odd views on the world teach Montag to experience his own life differently. I’m reminded of Julia Robert’s character in Pretty Woman when she teaches Richard Gere to feel the grass under his feet. But, back to Fahrenheit 451 and Montag. Then he burns the house of an elderly woman. This rebellious elderly recluse refuses to leave her home and her books. As a result Montag burns her alive. They call it “suicide” but her death has a profound “rub” on Montag. The more Montag changes the less he understands the people around him. He begins to remember other book rebels he has met in his career. Mr. Faber is one such person. Faber agrees to help Montag leave the world of firemen and enter the dangerous unknown.

The opening scene to Fahrenheit 451 sets the stage for how bizarre Montag’s world really is. The detailed description of the fire’s destruction at the hands of a fireman is surreal and disorientating. But it is a necessary introduction to the dystopia in which Montag lives. Another tactic of Bradbury is to insert a great deal of repetition. Key words are repeated almost as in a chant. To hear in as an audio book is haunting.

Favorite line, “How strange, strange to want to die so much that you let a man walk around armed and then instead of shutting up and staying alive, you go on yelling at people and making fun of them until you get them mad and then…” (p 116).

Reason read: Bradbury was born in August.

Author Fact: Ray Bradbury died in June at the age of 91. His website is fascinating however I am most excited to learn that Bradbury loved cats! Miow.

Book Trivia: Fahrenheit 451 has influenced millions becoming a radio program, several plays and an adventure game. It should be a movie.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “100 good Reads, Decade By Decade: 1950s” (p 177).