5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read!
'Sons And Lovers' is perhaps the most touching classic by D H Lawrence. The story revolves around the Morel family, a lower-middle class family living on the Nottingham coalfield. Initially, Lawrence vividly describes the hardships faced by Mrs. Morel in raising a family of three sons and a daughter while living from hand to mouth, in face of the frequent beatings...
Published on Nov. 17 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars strange love
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, especially in the first part. his writing is simple and direct, and part one paints a very vivid picture of working-class life in england circa 1900. the other thing that surprised me about the book is...
Published on June 29 2003
Most Helpful First | Newest First
4.0 out of 5 stars Husbands and Mama's Boys,
This story of the Morel family begins with a dramatic portrayal of the effect industrialization has on human lives. Mr. Morel, a coal miner in turn-of-the-century Britain, lives a life of drudgery, anger and desperation. He takes his frustrations out on his wife Gertrude, while the real source of his unhappiness is his own low self-esteem. Gertrude is embittered by his hardness and so looks to her sons to fill all her emotional needs. This constitutes Part One of the novel, which to this reviewer's taste is the more satisfying section. The detailed descriptions of the arguments and even outright fights between the married couple are as powerful as anything in fiction, and bleakly dramatize how poverty can destroy the very hearts and souls of the working classes. Morel is oppressed by his employer, so he in turn oppresses his wife, who emotionally smothers her sons. Fight the power!
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. And there's certainly nothing tragic about these young people mooning about, complaining that their relationships aren't what they'd like them to be; most especially in the context of Part One, which reminds us that there are people in this world who are really suffering.
Readers who are deeply interested in the internal subtleties of male-female relationships (and this probably includes a majority of young women) will love this book. If the two parts were published separately, this reviewer would unhesitatingly give Part One five stars, while grudgingly giving Part Two three and a half. For Mama's boys (and those who've seriously dated them) this book certainly rates five stars, but others will find these characters so annoying that even four stars may seem generous.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read!,
By A Customer
'Sons And Lovers' is perhaps the most touching classic by D H Lawrence. The story revolves around the Morel family, a lower-middle class family living on the Nottingham coalfield. Initially, Lawrence vividly describes the hardships faced by Mrs. Morel in raising a family of three sons and a daughter while living from hand to mouth, in face of the frequent beatings delivered by an oft-drunk miner husband. For the larger part, he examines in detail the passionate relationship between Mrs. Morel and her second son, Paul. Disillusioned from her drunkard and temperamental husband and devastated by the death of her elder son, Mrs. Morel has high expectations from her second son, Paul. At the same time, Paul is torn between his duty towards his beloved mother, and his passion for the two other women in his life, Clara and Miriam. It is widely believed that through this novel, Lawrence has addressed the dynamics of his own complicated relationship with his mother, and has depicted the dilemma that faced him. D H Lawrence has masterfully handled the fragile subject of intimate relationships between loved ones. In my view, it is a definite must-read. Also recommended: Waiting by Ha Jin, The Losers' Club by Richard Perez
4.0 out of 5 stars A Complex Examination of Dysfunction,
This review is from: 20th Century Sons And Lovers (Paperback)
Emotional manipulation and possessiveness are at the core of this most intriguing novel. D.H. Lawrence's SONS AND LOVERS greets the reader with the author's elegant prose while systematically immersing the story in a swirling cloud of tangled dysfunction.
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.
3.0 out of 5 stars strange love,
By A Customer
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, especially in the first part. his writing is simple and direct, and part one paints a very vivid picture of working-class life in england circa 1900. the other thing that surprised me about the book is the euthanasia at the end. i wasn't prepared for this and quite honestly was shocked to read about paul and his sister annie 'gliggling' and they prepare the morphium od for their mum. paul's love for his mother is also disturbing. his last kiss of the beloved cadaver is completely morbid. frankly, i'm surprised this aspect of the novel didn't cause more controversy. in comparison, the sexual material is pretty tame, granted i am 100 years removed from the book's first appearance.
the structure of the book is based naturally on the biography, but still, the story is a little shapeless. there are characters and incidents introduced that are never taken up and resolved. paul's brother arthur, for example, makes short appearances from time to time, but he doesn't figure in the story at all. you can argue this is like real life, and maybe this is what lawrence was trying to achieve, but by the standards of a traditional novel, it is sloppy.
i also never really got into the book. usually, i race to the end to find out what happened, but with 'sons and lovers', i coasted. at first, i thought this was because of the book's shapelessness, but there's no reason a biographical work of fiction can't be well structured. i realized the reason is that paul morel is just not your typical 'hero' of a biographical book. in fact, he's no hero at all. he has too many worts and he doesn't try to cover them up - i think this unlikeableness or aloofness of the main character makes the book itself unlikeable and hard to get into.
nevertheless, lawrence does write nicely and the novel has some very interesting moments. worth a read.
3 1/2 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars Autobiographical and true to life,
Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence. Recommended.
Sons and Lovers is said to be the most autobiographical of D. H. Lawrence's novels; according to the introduction by Benjamin DeMott, some critics have found it too flatly so. Like the protagonist Paul Morel, Lawrence was born to a coal miner and a woman who has married beneath her class, and his older brother died young, DeMott notes. Many other details coincide as well.
Unlike some of Lawrence's other works, such as Women in Love, in which Lawrence explores lofty themes in a philosophical and often grim tone, Sons and Lovers is as down to earth as Paul's rough, violent, yet congenial father Walter. Despite his many apparent and iterated flaws, Walter Morel is shown as a whole person rather than a fictional creation, with a gentle, content, industrious side, at least when he's sober. Perhaps his "smallness" is a function of where he is and who he is expected to be rather than who he could be. He's so tied to his lot in life, the mining life, that it never occurs to him that his more gifted sons could aspire to more. That they achieve more is a source of both pride and derision for Walter Morel. Although Walter is a background character (to both reader and to the Morel family), it is he, "an outsider," who forges the bond between Gertrude Morel and her sons, first William, then Paul.
Gertrude Morel is not the first woman to try to live her life through her children, but her hold over her sons dooms their relationships with other women to failure and leaves them deeply unsatisfied and unhappy. Her motivations may be questionable, but she is sometimes right. William's fiancée Lily would have cost him dearly, emotionally and financially, had he lived to marry her, and Mrs. Morel sees her own mistake of a marriage in his future. Although she makes her beliefs known, she seems willing to let William make his decision and suffer the consequences.
Having learned from the experience with William, Mrs. Morel takes a different approach with Paul, who seems to be her last, best hope for justifying her own life. Her relationship with Paul becomes overtly sexual. When they go out together, they behave like lovers on a date. "He stroked his mother's hair, and his mouth was on her throat." When Paul tells his mother that he doesn't love Miriam (how can he?), she "kissed him in a long, fervent kiss. 'My boy!' she said, in a voice trembling with passionate love. Without knowing, he gently stroked her face."
It would be too easy to attribute all this to an Oedipal complex, but it is more complicated, as life is. Paul serves as Mrs. Morel's alter ego, pseudo-lover, and breadwinner. Everything she did not or cannot have must be Paul's. She is savvy enough to know who is a threat to her hold and who is not. She recognises in Miriam a woman much like herself-intelligent, thwarted, let down by men, hungry for a kindred spirit or soul mate. Paul, too, is aware of this and hates Miriam for it-and for the fact he does, indeed, love her, making him unfaithful to the woman to whom he owes his fidelity. There are spiritual overtones as well, as the religious Miriam tries to sacrifice herself for Paul, whom she sees as a "Walter Scott hero." This sacrifice repels Paul ever further.
Mrs. Morel rightly perceives that Clara Dawes is not a threat to her-she is fascinating, attractive, enigmatic, and sensual, but she lacks the ability to be more to Paul than a diversion from Miriam, Mom, and himself. Knowing that nothing of importance will come of this affair, Mrs. Morel even encourages it. It cannot divert Paul from her, and it fails as a result.
In the end, the only intimacy Paul is capable of is with his mother. She has come between him and his own consciousness-and he has allowed her. Everything is filtered through her. How she has achieved this is not always clear, as she uses more than rhetoric and conscious effort to mold Paul. When he wishes her dead, there is hope that then he would begin to live. "Mother!" he whimpered. "Mother!" Then: "He would not take that direction, to the darkness, to follow her." With the past buried, there may be a future for him. Only Lawrence knew as he wrote this most human of his novels...
5.0 out of 5 stars Mothers and Lovers,
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, solace and love in her sons, first with Walter and when Walter dies unexpectedly, with Paul, the second son. She lives for him, he for her. She is so possessive of him that she objects his involvement with his first love, Miriam. He then goes after, Clara, a married woman. The book revolves around Paul and these three desperate women, who comfort him, torture him and
he scornfully resiprocates. But he is always faithful to his mother , who he adores. I guess we are all like Paul, in some
ways. Miriam is a haunting character who reverberates in the entire book, so innocent, pure, religious, pious and madly in love with Paul. Clara, on the other hand, very rigid, calculating, demanding and yet very vulnerable. In Paul we see callousness, sacrifice, piety, haughtiness, repentance, a bit of Roskolnikov, a young man whose life is torn between a adoring mother and two lovers. In the end his high spirits and intellegence prevail and he conquers his demons.
4.0 out of 5 stars I can't relate to Paul's relationship with his mother,
In reading any novel you bring a certain amount of yourself and your experiences with others to the table, which helps you to understand the characters you meet. For me it was difficult to comprehend the relationship between Paul and his mother; it is unlike anything I've experienced before, and I can't imagine the feelings he had or how they affected his relationships with his lovers.
Paul and Miriam were a trifle difficult, as well, though I was closer to getting it with them. One fo my problems was that I kept projecting personality characteristics onto Miriam as I grew to know her (sometimes verging on stereotypes), only to understand later that that wasn't who she was, that she too was unlike anyone I had met before, though similar in some respects. I would like to read Lawrence's account of the real person whom Miriam was based on.
The characters in Sons and Lovers are people that will ultimately expand your understanding of human nature, but for me, their motivations were so foreign that I didn't entirely grasp them the first time around. The best I could do was recognize that Lawrence was depicting very real people in a very detailed and compassionate way. I, however, remained out of the loop for most of the book.
The most I gained from Sons and Lovers was a detailed sketch of life in early 20th centurey England. It was interesting to note that, despite the stereotype of the proletariat during the industrial revolution, being a coal miners family did not automatically relegate you to a lifetime of poverty. Not only did the miners make decent enough wages to afford a house, furniture, good food and several pints of beer a week, but for a man (at least) of other talents, the sky was the limit as to how far he could go.
4.0 out of 5 stars Confused emotions of human psyche...,
This is really a book of psychological analysis. It's not exactly an autobiography but Lawrence makes a good deal self-eveluation of his childhood.When you read the novel you feel in an instant that someone who can describe human conditions that successfully,must have lived it all himself.Paul's excessive attachment to his mother and how his life became unbearable after her death shows the human helplessness.He tries over and over to LOVE someone other than his mother but each time he finds some missing part which is fullfilled by his mother. He really loves Miriam but somehow love also falls short to live happily-ever-after. When I first started the book I felt that the main character was Mrs.Morel. I was mistaken. Lawrence used all of the characters with nearly equal emphasis.Of course the leading one is Paul. On the other hand you take lots of things from other characters by his clear depiction. Paul,thus Lawrence, is a good psychologist.If you like to find your own thougts and feelings told by an author you should read Sons And Lovers.I finished it in a week.
4.0 out of 5 stars Freud would have fun with this....,
The Wordsworth Classics are a fairly good editions of some of the classics. Being mass-market paperbacks, they are easy to carry around. The only problem I would have with this is that there is not a lot of room in the margins for making notes about the text. There is some room, but you would need to write small. I would recommend this edition above others if you just wanted to read the story with really studying it.
D.H. Lawrence wrote this in a time which also saw Sigmund Freud start with his writings of Oedipal conflict and motivation. A reader from today will start thinking about how much fun Freud would have with this within the first few chapters.
I would have to say that I have not read a lot of D.H. Lawrence, but this book has convinced me to read more. The actions Paul, the main character, takes tell you what is happening, but if you look at the imagery of nature around them, you will have another idea of what is going on. Lawrence is a great writer. Look at the flowers when Paul and Clara have finished walking the slippery path by the river. Look closely at the flowers that are given to Clara when they stop for tea.
I would recommend this book to anyone. If you are a student, I might recommend using a journal for your notes or getting a used copy of another edition which has larger margins.
4.0 out of 5 stars Pain mixed with happiness,
By A Customer
Sons and Lovers tells the story of the Morels, which are the counterpart of the authors own family. It is in this book where D.H. Lawrence explores probably for the first time the circumstances and conditions of his youth in order to set himself free of the shadows of the past. The dominant, omnipresent influence of his mother a tie so strong he is hardly able to bear her death. So strong he almost chooses to follow her into the immense night which engulfed her. «And if he walked and walked for ever, there was only that place to come to» the place where his dead mother was awaiting him. Yet in the end, facing the seduction of death, he turns around and walks towards the light «the faintly humming, glowing town» thus deciding to continue the path of his life, alone but free. The story of a mother with an unfulfilled life and a marriage that was failure, too. A mother that substitutes her own life by the lives of her sons, making their success her victory. The victory that will make her triumph over the share of life she didn¹t get. Mrs Morel takes possession her sons of the lives, especially of Paul¹s (the counterpart of D.H. Lawrence). And by doing so she casts a shadow on all of Paul¹s actions, thoughts, and experiences. Everything he will do he will do it, in the end for his mother. This pressure, this shadow makes it impossible for him to see the light which would lead him along the path of his life and therefore his youth becomes a struggle, a fight against himself. He falls in love, but eventually he isn¹t able to love. The mother, sitting at home, jealous, is his conscience and she wouldn¹t allow anybody to come close to him. And so we see Paul grow up, a person bursting of life yet unable to live. With passion he falls in love, the passion though turns into pain. Pain, the keyword of the book, penetrates every chapter. A sensitive soul, deeply connected with nature, caught in torture. «He felt as if his blood was melting into tears» or his vision of a sunset: «Gold flamed to scarlet, like pain in its intense brightness» make us feel how the world of Paul utterly dissolves into torment and struggle. A book that is the vision of pain, not without any happiness, but always a happiness based on pain. This vision comes to us so real, so profound and sincere that the book seems to me an approach on life itself.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence (Hardcover - Nov. 26 1991)
CDN$ 24.95 CDN$ 15.72