Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Try A Little Tenderness: Why I Had To Listen To Otis Redding Right After Reading "Lady Chatterley's Lover"

Lady Chatterley's LoverLady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm kind of mixed up about what I want to say about this novel, which is a good thing.  Of course it's best-known for being a scandalous, banned novel for its sex scenes, and I suppose for 1928, this was rather racy.  I read the modern restored version and by today's standards, some scenes and language are graphic, but not pornographic or even titillating, just sensual, and respectfully so. (And even quaintly goofy - Lady Chatterley's private parts are oft described as her "mound of Venus.")  Lawrence actually believes sex and sexual desire aren't purulent or shameful, but the highest expression of life and living.  He also is decidedly disgusted by technology (in 1928, coal mines, deforestation, the Industrial Revolution and its ramifications were his chief complaints) and people who chase money, status, success and celebrity.  In that way, the novel is both classic and contemporary.  Though there are parts of the book that can be repetitive - not with the love plot, but with Lawrence expounding his philosophies via the characters' thoughts or his descriptions of his characters - his way with words and phrases make the journey through it all worth it.  And once the love affair commences, it's all extremely engaging and absorbing, because you can't help but root for this impossible love affair to become possible - for real life to bloom and for the rest of the man-made madness and societal restrictions to fall away in the face of true tenderness between men and women (hence, the Otis Redding reference in the title).  And it's romantic because it's not sentimental - this book is hard and the characters are very aware of the realities they face and the sacrifices they'll have to make to even start to make a go of it.  The machine of civilization will go on but humanity will survive it if there is love.  Even though there are some racist bits in there that do date it (I could put these down to the characters instead of the author but I'm sure that would be charity on my part) I highly recommend it - because they don't mar the core thoughts and ideas expressed here.  All in all, good stuff.

View all my reviews


Michael Giltz said...

I've had it on my to-read list for a while. The hoped-for smut is a good excuse. I take it 50 Shades didn't do it for you? (Couldn't get past the first two chapters or stop laughing on that one.) What's next? Lolita? That is a GREAT book as well, and very funny. If you're nice, I'll tell you my idea for a theatrical adaptation.

Lori Lakin Hutcherson said...

Hey Mr. Giltz -

No, "50 Shades" didn't do it for me - I read the whole trilogy and that was not a guilty pleasure I am proud of. Not because of the content, but because it was trashy and laughable and derivative (of "Twilight" no less!) and just not good writing. I will admit the sex scenes were titillating but that's about all there is to recommend about that. Next on my stack was "Henrietta Lacks" so I started that this morning, but "Lolita" is a good call for my next stop on the smut train. I started it years ago, so I know I have a copy somewhere... just not thrilled by the pedophilia aspect of it all, but hey, everyone's got a story to tell, so I'll judge after I'm done. And I promise, I'll be nice - would love to hear your ideas!