Years ago (I mean years ago), I read and enjoyed Sons and Lovers, although my memories of the book are probably not very reliable now. I have also read an enjoyed Lawrence’s essays Etruscan Places (although I think it might have been the subject matter that interested me more than the style, unlike, say, Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons, an extraordinary travel book about Cyprus). I have never read Lady Chatterly’s Lover; I am not sure why not. Maybe I should. And I have not read his other best known novels, like Women in Love and The Rainbow.
I have started some of the other novels, I remember not being able to get through Aaron’s Rod at all. Same with The White Peacock and Kangaroo.
I have read through two other books, however. I read another travel book, Sea and Sardinia, written much earlier than the book about Etruria, and which tells the trip that Lawrence and his wife made from Sicily, where they had been living, to Sardinia. I found the book completely depressing, quite smug and Anglocentric (if that is a word), and heavy. I couldn’t figure out why they were taking the trip, which they didn’t seem to want to take, and certainly didn’t seem to have fun taking.
And I just finished reading Lawrence’s second novel, The Trespasser, about an unhappily married musician and a young, lonely single woman, who thought they belonged together, and ran away for a furtive five day stay (now called a long weekend, I guess) on the Isle of Man. They spent the five days alternating between the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows, with the lowest of lows predominating. This was a very heavy, pontificating book, 216 pages (in the Penguin edition) that seemed as long as War and Peace. It is mainly narrative and soul searching; no, it is mainly soul searching, the narrative is less present.
“It is good when life holds no anti-climax”, she said.
“Ay!”, he answered. Of course, he could not understand her meaning.
This brief conversation, found on page 119, says it all.
Heavy, heavy, heavy.