Women in Love

by D.H. Lawrence

I find this book to be a profoundly obtuse read. I can't figure out what's really going on half the time. I don't think D.H. Lawrence is a great writer at all & have scarcely ever run across more redundant prose in my life. Additionally, every conversation between every character concerns high-concept philosophy. I don't care if it was the turn of the century, I find this type of dialogue untenable & unrealistic. The passages "describing" physical interactions between characters are even worse! I can't tell if they're copulating, having a wrestling match, asleep in each other's arms, or undergoing some kind of occult marriage of souls because their feelings for one another are running too high.

I suspect a big part of the trouble here is that D.H. Lawrence's homosexuality was just too big for 100 years ago. We're not talking "overtones" here, folks; we're talking relatively plainspoken passages of love, lust, & longing between men. And we're also talking direct conversation between male characters about their love for one another...albeit couched in the rhetoric of ponderous philosophy & hypothesis, of course. (WHO TALKS LIKE THIS?? How's that for a rhetorical question?) It's notable, however, that these are some of the most forthright & intelligible passages in the book. Accordingly, the most intimate scene in the book is a near-naked judo match between two men. Not joking.

A FAR better book about two sisters & their respective suitors in turn-of-the-century Midlands England is, of course, The Old Wives' Tale. Based on the timing of publication, it's Arnold Bennett who's been plagiarized by D.H. Lawrence. The former's novel is set in the Potteries and the latter's in the Collieries. Both books contain a "Gerald" who is something of a darker main character. The former's doyen is called "Mr. Critchlow" and the latter's "Mr. Crich." One sister's choice of suitor works out (although, shh!, don't tell her!, he's gay) while the other's does not. Essentially, Women in Love is a gay Old Wives' Tale written on Ecstasy.

I suspect many of you out there—no matter where you are in the world—no doubt heard me scream when I went to see what book was next on the list. You guessed it: More D.H. Lawrence. Not only that, Women in Love was intended to be something of a sequel to the book I must come to next. So when I saw that The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence was next on the list I hollered, "NOOOOOOOoooooooo..." for two reasons: 1) I had a devil of a time just getting through & decoding Women in Love, it took forever to read, and I was SO GLAD to be done with it. 2) I am anal, & if I have to read two books in series, I'd rather read them in their proper order. So the Modern Library is pretty much single-handedly ruining my summer. I guess I am used to it. Classic literature assigned between grades in my school days always ruined my summers too.