on May 23, 2001
I know this review is going to sound markedly unintelligent, but I really can't help it in this case. I'm going to say what I need to say about this book, whether it makes a helpful review or not.
Let me get one thing straight first: Sons and Lovers does not flow in the way Lawrence's other works flow. Each scene does not seem to bind itself to the next to make a perfect, seamless whole. The book does lag at times, in fact. It is beautifully written but not 'perfectly' written like Lawrence's other works. I am not rating this book on its composition, though. I'm rating it for something else.
I'm wondering if anyone else felt the same way I felt when I read this novel. I have never before had to lay down a book in mid-paragraph and put my head in my hands for sheer emotional inability to read any further that day. I've read authors whose works hold up a mirror to an entire society, to a clique, to a cult, or a nation, but NEVER have I seen an author hold up a mirror to common individuals like myself. Quite honestly, I have never felt so horrible and so sickened with MYSELF simply because I read a book.
What IS it about this story that makes me feel this way? I can only say that Lawrence must have been an expert at inner self-examination and observance of society. When I say society, I don't mean of 'the English,' or 'the Americans' or 'the-anything.' I mean of 'people.' There must be aspects of all human beings that will never change through time, age, gender, and economic status, because Lawrence captures each and every little thought, feeling, and nuance of human emotion and throws it as us in this book. The effect is a screaming recognition of yourself (at least, of myself.) 'Oh my God, that IS me!' I sympathize with Miriam, I sympathize with Paul, with Lily, with William, with Gertrude, and, God help me, with Walter Morel. I see myself in them.
Lawrence may want us to feel negatively toward Miriam at times, but those are the times when I most identify with her. She may be a 'soul sucker,' but I know that I am, too. Mrs. Morel hates Miriam for this overbearing quality, but there's the clincher:I, too, hate the people who try to suck the souls of the people whose 'souls' I want.
In less ridiculous language, Lawrence uses the relationship between Miriam and Paul to lay the inevitable facts about human jealousy and possessiveness in front of our eyes. We all have thoughts, desires, and jealousies so 'embarrassing' or so shameful that we won't even voice them in our mind's ear. These are the thoughts that will make us weak or despicable if we acknowledge or accept them. Lawrence makes these hidden thoughts and feelings a part of his writing style. When he describes his characters, you'd better BELIEVE he describes them. He leaves nothing out. They are weak, stupid, good, beautiful, and hopeless. I hate to seeing myself in his characters just as much as I hate being like them.
Nearly all of Lawrence's works are like this, it is true, but this was the first of them that really slapped me in the face and made me see myself (and most likely everyone else) for what I really am.
It's a good book. Very powerful, sad, embarrassing, and dangerous. Everyone should read it.
on February 11, 2001
Sons and Lovers is a book that has been set for years in school for children to read. Somehow doing this usually means that most people emerge with a hatred of it but Lawrence's book is of such quality that it is able to survive.
It is about a woman who marries a coal miner someone who is below her class. While he is young there is some joy in her life but as she grows older the class differences create a wall between them. She lives for her two male children who she tried to keep out of the mines and to ensure that they can live middle class lives. As she grows older the children become more important to her. The death of the oldest means that she suffocates the younger son with a love that affects his normal development.
The story is told through the eyes of the younger son. There is little question that the novel is autobiographical and based on the early life of Lawrence. His life is almost identical to the events portrayed in the novel.
Lawrence was a prolific novelist and short story reader but this work is probably his most accessible. His later novels tended to be more about peoples relationships but without the social content.
Nowadays the class issues have receded a bit into the background. At the time of its publication the book would have been seen as revealing the divisions that operated in Britain. Most critics tend to focus on the relationship of Lawrence and his mother as the primary focus of the novel. To some extent this is true but the book is much more. It is a portrait of a society thankfully now gone. It is the portrait of a young man being propelled by his mother to escape his fathers destiny. Unlike Lawrence's other books which have tended to date this book is easy to read and still a classic.
on May 4, 2000
Because this book deals with the timeless feelings of love, obsession, and vulnerablity, it doesn't feel outdated, even though it's set in a time period much different from the current one. Especially interesting is Paul's relationship with Miriam, and how he becomes angry that she is trying to consume his soul--but at the same time, he says that he is looking for a woman who can belong to him. It seems like a double standard, but Paul is so obviously dysfuctional that as a reader, I could easily excuse it. DH Lawrence did a great job of making the content of the book flow well. When I got to the end, I could just feel that he was going to have to work Miriam back into the story somehow--and sure enough he did. And I think that as a reader, when I am able to anticipate what the writer has left to say, that is really a great statement about the ability of the writer to bring his readers to the same line of thought about the characters and the plot that he has. And something that I especially enjoyed about this book is that it is almost entirely dialogue, and it doesn't spend pages describing the scenery and such. So if that's something you like too, then you will probably enjoy this book.
on December 14, 1999
The story is brilliant. It is about how a woman (the mother, Gertrude) takes her son (Paul) as her lover instead of choosing her husband. She did not have the will to love the husband, and instead turned that will on a child. The title is not "Fathers and Lovers" or "Husbands and Lovers." The father is capable of being loved, but in Gertrude's mind, she is too good for the husband. Therefore, she turns her lover's heart towards a child ("Sons and Lovers"). In modern psychobabble, Gertrude doesn't recognize boundaries. The child is defenseless to the emotional power which penetrates him. He is absorbed and becomes one with the mother's heart and goals. It is similar to molestation but instead of a physical penetration, there is an emotional penetration. When the boy starts to grow up and should, rightly, begin to become whole with a woman, he is not free to take that step. His sexuality drives him towards an appropriate lover, and seemingly makes him appear available, but his emotional heart cannot take another woman into himself. There is already a lover who has penetrated his heart (i.e. his mother). For a man to be complete in love, he has to be able to enter a woman physically at the same time he takes her into himself emotionally. Paul can't allow another woman in emotionally because his mother is already there. Hence, even though he is able to enter a woman physically, the whole experience is deeply unsatisfying to both Paul and all the women in his life. The mother is not really satisfied because she can't have her lover completely (i.e. physically and as her life's mate), and the other women in Paul's life (with whom he could have a physical relationship) are left unsatisfied because he wills not to take them into himself emotionally, and thereby deprives these women of the experience of wholeness which accompanies surrender in love. Hence, the women he should be able to complete himself with (i.e. those with whom he can complete the physical act), he eventually wears out. They give up because he is not available. His heart belongs to another. E.g. Claire goes back to her husband even though Claire's husband is less refined, because Claire would rather have all of a working man, than only part of an artist. There are scads of women today who are throwing themselves at this inpenetrable wall of the mother's inappropriate molestation of her son's emotions, not really understanding why and how to work with it. Lawrence sheds insight into that process. The cure is to exchange the will to love the mother for the will to love the lover. Go for it!
on November 2, 1999
This has been the most artless novel I've tried to read this year. It was excruciatingly long and I could barely get to page 200. I could not finish it. I actually ran out and bought the Great Gatsby just to remind myself what a great novel is supposed to be.
It was like Lawrence just decided to slap everything together about these dull people, all without consideration for the reader's patience. I don't think in the history of literature have I ever seen so much description of people looking at each other and walking around. And the dialogue was exceedingly hollow. The father could have been extremely interesting but almost all the time, I had no idea what he was saying with Lawrence's annoying use of colloquial country English. Of course, Lawrence is quite literate; he knows a lot about scenery and nature but that's not what makes a book great. It is plotting, lyricism, and resonance that makes a book fun to read, and not to mention selection and editing and the craftmanship of scenes and situations. Worse yet, his prose style is sickeningly robotic. It made me want to puke. So far this year, all the supposedly great Brit writers have been thoroughly disappointing.
on May 11, 1999
The setting of the novel is in the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire area of England. The novel is the story of the Morel family. Gertrude and Walter Morel married and went to Bestwood, a mining village in Nottinghamshire. She was a well educated and refined person; he was a warm, vigorous, uneducated man. They had four children- Annie, the daughter, and three sons- William, Paul, and Arthur. As Gertrude Morel's sons grew up, she no longer felt love for her husband, and instead turned all her love and passion towards her sons. The sons grew up hating their father and completely dependent upon their mother, who became the strongest factor in their lives; as a result, when they became men, they were unable to find a satisfactory relationship with any woman. William, the eldest, chose a flignty girl who gave him physical satisfaction, but nothing more, for his soul was his mother's. The struggle of this impasse killed him. Paul the second eldest, chose Miriam, who fought his mother for his soul; torn between the two women he ultimately returned to his mother. Later, he turned for a physical relationship to Clara, an older married woman, but again he found that the ties with his mother were too strong for a succesful relationship. Paul told his mother that as long as she lived he could not live a full life or love any woman. She became ill, and Paul dedicated his life completely to her. When his mother died, he was left alone with a wish only for death.
on October 29, 1998
Sons and Lovers, while a good book, is not, in my opinion, great. The ending left me unsatisfied. I don't know whether the reader is supposed to sympathize with Paul Morel, but I didn't. I found him to be - what did I find him to be? - he is arrogant and - what were his qualities? - I don't know, just arrogant. In fact, I did not find any characters that I liked. Although you don't have to like the characters to like the book, I didn't even like the plot. It was bland. You're probably wondering why I gave it three stars. There were some parts of the book that were excellent at showing human nature and how people relate to each other. For instance, Paul was attracted to Clara because at first she was indifferent to him. It just shows you that The Rules were at work even nearly a century ago! In conclusion, I like the book, I just don't loooove the book. I also did not quite feel the relationship between Paul and his mother.
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 her two sons, especially with the younger son, Paul Morel, who suffers from an Oedipus complex with his mother. Mrs. Morel is portrayed by Lawrence as someone who tries to steer the lives of her sons, especially Paul, intervening in his choice of lovers and careers. Although her motives may be noble, her actions have unforseen consequences which affect adversely Paul's life. Lawrence's novel is said to be semiautobiographical, since the Morels are seen as fictitious counterparts of his own family. It surely is a literary classic, since it was the first to look at a dysfunctional family's affairs prior to the advent of Freud's psychological writings. It also remains memorable due to Lawrence's splendid, often lyrical, prose.
on January 18, 2000
This book is amazing. When I first started reading it I was afraid the book might drag at times but this was not the case. I never found myself becoming bored during the book, in fact, there were many times where I found it hard to put the book down. I have recomended this book to everybody, including to the person reading this review.
Maybe the book is good for me because I can somewhat relate to Paul Morel's character at times. Now I am not saying that I am in love with my mother, but his akwardness in the earlier sections of the book really struck me. The scenes are so vivid in the book that a reader almost feels that they are there in England with Paul. I also loved how Lawrence would give the thoughts of the female characters as well as Paul. Again, I must say that the book was excellent and I look forward to reading it again soon.
on May 11, 2000
This is a perfect book for anyone who enjoys reading twentieth century British literature. I like the fact that D. H. Lawrence is able to realistically portray the emotions of the many characters in the book. I did not only learn Paul's side of the story, but I also gained insight into Gertrude's, Miriam's, and Clara's thoughts and feelings towards Paul and towards each other. This omniscient narration makes the story a more interesting study into human emotions. Lawrence deals very heavily with psychological motivations for each character's actions, making the characters more human and believable. This is a great story that goes far beneath the surface. Sons and Lovers is a thought-provoking tale of love, death, possession, vulnerability, and heartache. I would recomend it to anyone looking for a good book to read.