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Sons and Lovers Hardcover – Nov 26 1991
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Sons and Lovers was the first modern portrayal of a phenomenon that later, thanks to Freud, became easily recognizable as the Oedipus complex. Never was a son more indentured to his mother's love and full of hatred for his father than Paul Morel, D.H. Lawrence's young protagonist. Never, that is, except perhaps Lawrence himself. In his 1913 novel he grappled with the discordant loves that haunted him all his life--for his spiritual childhood sweetheart, here called Miriam, and for his mother, whom he transformed into Mrs. Morel. It is, by Lawrence's own account, a book aimed at depicting this woman's grasp: "as her sons grow up she selects them as lovers--first the eldest, then the second. These sons are urged into life by their reciprocal love of their mother--urged on and on. But when they come to manhood, they can't love, because their mother is the strongest power in their lives."
Of course, Mrs. Morel takes neither of her two elder sons (the first of whom dies early, which further intensifies her grip on Paul) as a literal lover, but nonetheless her psychological snare is immense. She loathes Paul's Miriam from the start, understanding that the girl's deep love of her son will oust her: "She's not like an ordinary woman, who can leave me my share in him. She wants to absorb him." Meanwhile, Paul plays his part with equal fervor, incapable of committing himself in either direction: "Why did his mother sit at home and suffer?... And why did he hate Miriam, and feel so cruel towards her, at the thought of his mother. If Miriam caused his mother suffering, then he hated her--and he easily hated her." Soon thereafter he even confesses to his mother: "I really don't love her. I talk to her, but I want to come home to you."
The result of all this is that Paul throws Miriam over for a married suffragette, Clara Dawes, who fulfills the sexual component of his ascent to manhood but leaves him, as ever, without a complete relationship to challenge his love for his mother. As Paul voyages from the working-class mining world to the spheres of commerce and art (he has fair success as a painter), he accepts that his own achievements must be equally his mother's. "There was so much to come out of him. Life for her was rich with promise. She was to see herself fulfilled... All his work was hers."
The cycles of Paul's relationships with these three women are terrifying at times, and Lawrence does nothing to dim their intensity. Nor does he shirk in his vivid, sensuous descriptions of the landscape that offers up its blossoms and beasts and "shimmeriness" to Paul's sensitive spirit. Sons and Lovers lays fully bare the souls of men and earth. Few books tell such whole, complicated truths about the permutations of love as resolutely without resolution. It's nothing short of searing to be brushed by humanity in this manner. --Melanie Rehak --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
When Sons and Lovers was first seen by its reading public in 1913, its publishers had in fact, out of caution and timidity, shortened Lawrence's originally submitted version by about ten percent--cuts that are restored in this new ``uncensored and uncut'' edition. Complexity of characterization, intensity of characters' confrontations, and sexual frankness are now, say the publishers, as the author intended them. Example: ``He could smell her faint perfume'' returns to its original, ``He could smell her faint natural perfume, and it drove him wild with hunger.'' -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Married to a drunken, rowdy coal miner in early 20th Century England, Gertrude Morel has neither a life nor a true love. Her only chance for happiness--as she sees it--is to live vicariously through her sons: first William, then Paul. Her subsequent possessiveness, her relentless interference in their lives, is smothering and destructive. When William dies, Gertrude devotes all of her attention--her manipulation--to Paul. Her son becomes a symbolic soulmate. . .lover. . .and Gertrude is unable to let him go to pursue his own relationships.
Torn between his love for his mother and his guilt whenever he harbors feelings of affection for another woman, Paul is anything but a suitable suitor. He falls in love with Miriam, but his emotional dysfunction all but dooms the relationship--a relationship constantly sabotaged by his mother. Needing a physical outlet, he has a brief affair with a married woman, Clara Dawes, but even then, his love for and devotion to his mother prevails. As his mother's health fails, Paul's existence becomes even more problematic, culminating in a transcendent death.
SONS AND LOVERS is not a "feel good" read, and Paul's inability to break free from the psychological bondage with his mother is frustrating and sometimes exasperating. Yet the true victim of this Lawrence classic is not Paul, but Miriam, who only wishes to love, and be loved in return. The man she has fallen in love with is incapable of such devotion: the tragic complexity of the story lingers long after this book has been put down.
(SORRY FOR THE ERRORS IF THERE ARE, BECAUSE ENGLISH IS NOT MY MOTHER LANGUAGE.)
All of which is what makes Part Two such a disappointment. The entire second half of the book revolves around the second son, Paul, and how his closeness to his mother makes it impossible for him to engage in satisfactory relationships with other women. Miriam, the milquetoast who yearns for a transcendent, spiritual love, cares for Paul so much that she lets him walk all over her. The much tougher and independent Clara introduces Paul to a more physically satisfying relationship, but neither of them has any real attachment to the other. The weakness of this second half is not just that it all seems to take far too long; it's that over time, the characters become very unsympathetic. None of them have the strength of will to break away from their failing relationships, despite the fact that these failures cast dark shadows across their lives.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Whenever I wish to contemplate on my mother's childhood I open this book at any page and enter into it. D.H. Read morePublished 18 months ago by sunshine
While I love D.H Lawrence, i should have chosen almost any other copy to read it. This one has terrible paper quality, very small and not a very legible print.Published on Oct. 14 2013 by Anastasia
While "Sons and Lovers" would not be a best seller if it was written by a current day author, it was, for its times, quite controversial and forward-leaning and should always be... Read morePublished on Jan. 29 2012 by Ronald W. Maron
knowing the reputation of this novel, i was curious to find out what the fuss was about. but i found that the best thing about the novel is the description of his family,... Read morePublished on June 29 2003
Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence. Recommended.
Sons and Lovers is said to be the most autobiographical of D. H. Read more
A tour de force! Bravo. It is story of Paul Morel who loves his mother more than himself. Mrs. Morel who is married to a ignorant, illiterate coal miner tries to find comfort,... Read morePublished on May 8 2003 by Vijay B. Kumar
D. H. Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers" should have been titled "Mother and Sons", since it is an unflinching, at times harsh, look at a mother's relationship with... Read morePublished on March 29 2003 by John Kwok
The say there's nothing like the love of a mother for her son, but in this novel by D.H Lawrence, the bond between mother and son cannot be broken. Read morePublished on Dec 13 2002 by Alberto Garcia
They say there's nothing like the love of a mother for her son, but in this novel by D. H. Lawrence, the bond between mother and son cannot be broken. Read morePublished on Dec 12 2002 by Alberto Garcia