on August 25, 2002
This is an amazing book. I don't think that anyone has ever been so skilled in writing a sentence before than D.H. Lawrence. He writes such poetic prose that he can make a walk in the park the most entertaining scene in a book. It is just beautiful and it is something that is zll too rare in modern lierature. There is one scene when he describes a man and a women walking beside a pond at night and the lady is pulling the petals off of a white flower and throwing them onto the pond. As they float away the picture that Lawence paints in the readers mind is poingant and very descriptively beautiful. The characters are described down to their inner most thoughts and we see them and get to know them better than they know themselves. The y are conflicted, insecure, and hopeful of finding something worth while. Lawrence pulls out the problems that society places on love, mixed with the conflicting human spirit with refreshing honesty. At times the characters drove me crazy as they couldn't make up their minds, they were so capricious. But then people are like that in life, so it fit in well with the main message of the story: searching for the offered love that appeases our trepidations about relationships. I will never view a relationship the same after reading this book as it was so insightful on what we need. More people should read D.H. Lawrence's works as they are lessons to help us define ourselves in a deaper perspective and in a more awake fashion.
on June 21, 2004
"Women in Love" is a book about individual philosophies, personalities, desires, and the conscious or subconscious need for control in relationships. It involves four characters--Gerald, the wealthy and powerful coal industry magnate; Birkin, the intellectual, nomadic bohemian; Ursula, a school-teacher and sister to Gundrun; and Gundrun, the beautiful, emancipated "modern lady" who is a school teacher and artist.
The book follows the course of the relationships between Gerald & Gundrun and Birkin & Ursula from the time when they first eye each other until the point where the relationship either transcends to something larger or comes to an end. There is also made reference to the desire of a relationship between Gerald & Birken spiritually and possibly sexually.
This book does not adhere to a strict timeline or follow a distinct plot. Certain chapters consist of inner musings of a character or dialogue between a few people to give you hints of their personalities. There are times when a series of paragraphs may lead you to believe that the author is simply musing over his own ideas and that the character thinking them is not the point. It's almost as if this book were a venue for Lawrence to channel some of his thoughts to an audience by way of a creation of characters that may or may not be extremely significant. Reader be forewarned: large portions of this book are personal philosphy, poetic and mystical.
I liked this book because I was able to see it for, I think, what it was meant to be. It wasn't intended to be a boy meets girl and read on to see what happens. It wasn't meant to make you fall in love, cry out of pity, or delight in the human spirit. The plot is nonessential. It was meant to show us how certain people would act in certain circumstances and to make us think how we would react in similar situations and to bring out musings that may or may not lie within our own subconscious. It means for us as readers to identify with or loathe certain traits in people and possibly to tell us why they think or feel the way they do. Read with an open mind and be prepared to get to know yourself.
on July 8, 2004
Well, the feminists hate it, the Christians apparently hate it (check out Irving Nutt's uproarious "review" below)...is there any other way to convey that Lawrence still has the power to provoke?
This is an absolute must for anyone serious about literature....Lawrence tries to stuff the whole dang world into a book. Everything he is trying to achieve here is breathtaking. The characters are all rather deplorable, but there is such psychological insight and empathy towards even the foulest of them, that the reader feels for all these fools. No two readers are going to look at it the same way....Is Crich a pitiable martyr or a ruthless phallocrat? Is Gudrun Lawrence's swat at women in general, or a pre-cursor to the cold, Thatcher-style "feminism". Is it about women in love...or is the romance strictly between the men? This ambiguity makes "Women In Love" absolutely timeless...
... a poetic, violent, and remarkably unsentimental masterpiece.
on December 4, 2003
Women in Love, as the title would suppose, should be about women in love. Herein lies the complexity of Lawrence: the novel is about men in love, who only through there female counterparts, are able to foster the emotional disposition necessary for what they really strive for, namely, each other.
Meet Birkin, a morose and exasperated cynic, who is tired of Aristocratic English life and wants something more, deeper, spiritual. However, this 'spirituality' he is so fond of is not that of religion, but of 'sensuality', which in this particular novel is the code-word for 'sexuality'. His rather heated and ambivalent relationship with Gerald, his strong, virile, and confident friend, borders on homo-erotic. (In one memorable scene, the two men get naked and 'wrestle' eachother.)
However, Birkin and Gerald are technically straight, and acquire amorous relationships with Ursula and Gundrun, respectively. The women are independent minded artists, who despite their strong personalities, wrestle with the idea of marriage, and the subordination that goes along with it. This implicates a broader theme of the book: Being trapped- whether it be by gender roles, love, desire, one's country, social economic standing, etc. All four characters suffer the peril of their own stagnation, trying to transgress any boundary they can, which in this book, between their bodies.
The novel was infamously banned by England upon publication, and was only printed for subscribing Americans. Some of the most vivid parts of the book are the sex scenes, which are not necessarily 'graphic', but highly suggestive, using words like, 'erect, explode, release, etc.'
Lawrence is remembered as a troubled man (he had an Oedipal relationship with his mom, some suggest). His characters are gritty, obtuse, even crass. Yet he writes about nature with the compassion and earnestness of Thoreau and Woodsworth. Lawrence is not a philosopher of the cerebral, but of the visceral- be it human bodies or nature. For Lawrence, union between all things is only possible where the irrational counters the rational. This novel investigates such polarities.
on November 21, 2001
First of all, I have to own you up that reading Women in Love was one of the best experiences on books that I ever had. I know it's not Lawurence's masterpiece, but I touched me very deep. Everthing seems to wok in this book, from the characters to their enviroment.
It seems to me that Lawrence took daily events and showed them the way they are: unglamourised. He showed me what love and support seem to be. It's not about being happy all the time or that kind of love that happens only in movies. The book deals with the ordinary love, the one that normal human beings have the chance to face.
Following the experience of both couples made me see how different love can be and it is the still the same. I could perfectly understand all the worries and anxiets Gudrun had. And I think Gerald and she made quite a couple! Yet Birkin and Ursula look very nice together since the begin. Their love is not as 'wild' as the other couple's, but it is very strong indeed.
When the book was over I got down because I had to let them go. Following the lives of such people for a few days made quite an impression on me. Even though they may not be XXI century people like us, they have the same essence we do.
All in all, I know this review may read very emotive and personal, but this is a book that I couldn't apart in other to write about
on August 12, 2001
OK, the title for this review may be a little harsh, but the image is hard to shake from my mind. Imagine the close-ups used in a soap opera to show you the intense anguish and inner turmoil the characters feel. Usually, there is pensive expressions which sometimes border on the ludicrous. In "Women in Love" I can't help imagining Lawrence using the same thing. There is a narrative, there is action, but a lot of the book belongs inside the characters. We see Gudrun looking out at the snow covered valley with a feeling of awe, we hear Birkin go through endless thoughts of the ineffable thing he is looking for but can't state clearly, and we watch Gerald trying to find the next big problem he can solve. Throughout all this ruminating, we, the viewer, must be watching something. Hence, we look at the soap opera close-ups of the Brangwens, Criches, and Birkin.
This is not a bad book, but not a book which moves me like others of Lawrence. This book was a continuation of "The Rainbow," but it does not give you the span of time. The novel is primarily focused on Ursula, Gudrun, Rupert, and Gerald. I miss seeing how things work through time. You still have elements from Lawrence's other novels (like dancing uninhibitedly with nature), but it seems as if he is giving us too much information on just a few people. I feel he has more effect with "The Rainbow."
I agree that you do not need to read "The Rainbow" first. Lawrence is a thorough writer, so many times I found myself rereading passages to better understand what he is trying to tell me.
The Wordsworth Classics are inexpensive, but they do not have a lot of room in the margins for notes. This is a good volume to buy for a read, but not for a study.
Although you do not need to read "The Rainbow" to read this, I would recommend reading "Women in Love" if you have read "The Rainbow." It is interesting to watch how Lawrence develops the women after giving you their history.
on March 29, 2001
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.
on January 11, 2001
I think Women in Love must be just about the most emotionally intense book I've ever read. D.H. Lawrence conjures his four main characters in what feels like the heat of a closed-room kiln. The writing is beautiful and amazingly perceptive, but is at times stultifyingly over-analytical.
Yet, despite the book's combined length, density and decided lack of plot, Women in Love is surprisingly readable. What makes this book so good is the honesty with which Lawrence imbues his two title characters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, and their two chosen lovers, Birkin and Gerald. It can be frustrating to read page after page of the mental thrashings of an individual mind's search for truth and authenticity in life and in love, but it can also be a kind of revelation.
These characters think differently about the world around them than I do, and we each think differently about the world than you who are reading this do. And yet we are all basically the same on a certain transcendent level. We are all human and we all long for an authentic connection with the world around us. We are different and we are the same. That's why living in this world isn't always easy, and that's why it's always worthwhile. This book beautifully and even entertainingly captures those basic struggles for human connection and if for that reason alone, it's well worth reading. Highly recommended.
on April 12, 1997
Set in the aftermath of World War I, this deeply philosophical novel brilliantly
portrays Lawrence's fascination with the power and activity of the subconscious mind.
Lawrence expertly strips away the surface levels of normal awareness and perception to reveal
the forces working within the deep inner recesses of the human psyche. His interest in and fascination
with the writings of Freud is everywhere made manifest in this story.
In every section of this brilliant book, the reader can grasp the characters' efforts to exert the will
against the inviolable forces of nature. The end result, according to Lawrence, is that they sever the organic bond with the natural world and suffer a spiritual death.
Through their struggles, we gain a sense of our own futile efforts to control reality, to make it over in our own image. We discover we must complete our being by living in the moment, submerging the self and uniting with others.
Above all else, we learn about our true nature and the necessity of living in harmony
with the ebb and flow of the larger universe. Buy Lawrence's book, and, more importantly,
dwell on its depictions of the mind's power to deliver our destiny.
I highly recommend this masterpiece to all readers wishing to gain insight into
human psychology and, ultimately, a truer picture of humanity. Although the book is quite long (nearly
500 pages) and doesn't have a unified plot structure, Lawrence rewards his beautiful bounty to the patient and careful reader.
on June 26, 1999
You shouldn't read this book if you are looking for a light read. The reviewer below is correct: it is an "intellectual merry-go-round", in the sense that it makes one feel that one is reading a Platonic dialogue without knowing which voice speaks for Plato. This makes it challenging, but not a bad book. However, I disagree with the reviewers who call it dark and depressing--did they take a close look at the blossoming relationship between Ursula and Birkin? This relationship seems to be a hope, making this tale no more depressing than the legend of Pandora's box. Finally, although it seems "unreal" at first for the characters to foster such intense emotions about little things, this is in keeping with the turn-of-the-century zeitgeist and the metaphysical nature of the work. Lawrence's descriptive talent is amazing and his point is good.