Lady Chatterley's Lover
Lady Chatterley's Lover
A recent edition
Author(s) D. H. Lawrence Language English Genre(s) Romance Publisher Tipografia Giuntina Publication date 1928 Preceded by John Thomas and Lady Jane (1927)
Lady Chatterley's Lover is a novel by D. H. Lawrence, first published in 1928. The first edition was printed privately in Florence, Italy with assistance from Pino Orioli; it could not be published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960. (A private edition was issued by Inky Stephensen's Mandrake Press in 1929.) The book soon became notorious for its story of the physical relationship between a working-class man and an aristocratic woman, its explicit descriptions of sex, and its use of (at the time) unprintable words.
The story is said to have originated from events in Lawrence's own unhappy domestic life, and he took inspiration for the settings of the book from Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, where he grew up. According to some critics, the fling of Lady Ottoline Morrell with "Tiger", a young stonemason who came to carve plinths for her garden statues, also influenced the story. Lawrence at one time considered calling the novel Tenderness and made significant alterations to the text and story in the process of its composition. It has been published in three different versions.
- 1 Plot introduction
- 2 Main characters
- 3 Themes
- 4 Controversy
- 5 Cultural influence
- 6 Standard editions
- 7 Adaptations
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The story concerns a young married woman, Constance (Lady Chatterley), whose upper-class husband, Clifford Chatterley, has been paralyzed and rendered impotent. Her sexual frustration leads her into an affair with the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. This novel is about Constance's realisation that she cannot live with the mind alone; she must also be alive physically.
- Lady Chatterley is the protagonist of the novel. Before her marriage, she is simply Constance Reid, an intellectual and social progressive from a Scottish bourgeois family, the daughter of Sir Malcolm and the sister of Hilda. When she marries Clifford Chatterley, a minor nobleman, Constance (or, as she is known throughout the novel, Connie) assumes his title, becoming Lady Chatterley. Lady Chatterley's Lover chronicles Connie's maturation as a woman and as a sensual being. She comes to despise her weak, ineffectual husband, and to love Oliver Mellors, the gamekeeper on her husband's estate. In the process of leaving her husband and conceiving a child with Mellors, Lady Chatterley moves from the heartless, bloodless world of the intelligentsia and aristocracy into a vital and profound connection rooted in sensuality and sexual fulfillment.
- Oliver Mellors is the eponymous lover. Mellors is the gamekeeper on Clifford Chatterley's estate, Wragby Hall. He is aloof, sarcastic, intelligent and noble. He was born near Wragby, and worked as a blacksmith until he ran off to the army to escape an unhappy marriage. In the army, he rose to become a commissioned lieutenant — an unusual position for a member of the working classes — but was forced to leave the army because of a case of pneumonia, which left him in poor health. Surprisingly, we learn from different characters' accounts that Mellors was in fact finely educated in his childhood, has good table manners, is an extensive reader, and can speak English 'like a gentleman', but chooses to behave like a commoner and speak broad Derbyshire dialect, probably in an attempt to fit into his own community. Disappointed by a string of unfulfilling love affairs, Mellors lives in quiet isolation, from which he is redeemed by his relationship with Connie: the passion unleashed by their lovemaking forges a profound bond between them. At the end of the novel, Mellors is fired from his job as gamekeeper and works as a laborer on a farm, waiting for a divorce from his old wife so he can marry Connie. Mellors is a man with an innate nobility but who remains impervious to the pettiness and emptiness of conventional society, with access to a primal flame of passion and sensuality.
- Clifford Chatterley is Connie's husband. Clifford Chatterley is a young, handsome baronet who becomes paralyzed from the waist down during World War I. As a result of his injury, Clifford is impotent. He retires to his familial estate, Wragby Hall, where he becomes first a successful writer, and then a powerful businessman. But the gap between him and Connie grows ever wider; obsessed with financial success and fame, he is not truly interested in love, and she feels that he has become passionless and empty. He turns for solace to his nurse and companion, Mrs. Bolton, who worships him as a nobleman even as she despises him for his casual arrogance. Clifford is portrayed as a weak, vain man, displaying a patronising attitude toward his supposed inferiors. He soullessly pursues money and fame through industry and the meaningless manipulation of words. His impotence is symbolic of his failings as a strong, sensual man, and could also represent the increasing loss of importance and influence of the ruling classes in a modern world.
- Mrs. Bolton, also known as Ivy Bolton, is Clifford's nurse and caretaker. She is a competent, still-attractive middle-aged woman. Years before the action in this novel, her husband died in an accident in the mines owned by Clifford's family. Even as Mrs. Bolton resents Clifford as the owner of the mines — and, in a sense, the murderer of her husband — she still maintains a worshipful attitude towards him as the representative of the upper class. Her relationship with Clifford – she simultaneously adores and despises him, while he depends and looks down on her – is probably one of the most complex relationships in the novel.
- Michaelis is a successful Irish playwright with whom Connie has an affair early in the novel. Michaelis asks Connie to marry him, but she decides not to, realising that he is like all other intellectuals: a slave to success, a purveyor of vain ideas and empty words, passionless.
- Hilda Reid is Connie's older sister by two years, the daughter of Sir Malcolm. Hilda shared Connie's cultured upbringing and intellectual education. She remains unliberated by the raw sensuality that changed Connie's life. She disdains Connie's lover, Mellors, as a member of the lower classes, but in the end she helps Connie to leave Clifford.
- Sir Malcolm Reid is the father of Connie and Hilda. He is an acclaimed painter, an aesthete and a bohemian who despises Clifford for his weakness and impotence, and who immediately warms to Mellors.
- Tommy Dukes, one of Clifford's contemporaries, is a brigadier general in the British Army and a clever and progressive intellectual. Lawrence intimates, however, that Dukes is a representative of all intellectuals: all talk and no action. Dukes speaks of the importance of sensuality, but he himself is incapable of sensuality and uninterested in sex. Of Clifford's circle of friends, he is the one who Connie becomes closest to.
- Duncan Forbes is an artist friend of Connie and Hilda. Forbes paints abstract canvases, a form of art Mellors seems to despise. He once loved Connie, and Connie originally claims to be pregnant with his child.
- Bertha Coutts, although never actually appearing in the novel, has her presence felt. She is Mellors' wife, separated from him but not divorced. Their marriage faltered because of their sexual incompatibility: she was too rapacious, not tender enough. She returns at the end of the novel to spread rumors about Mellors' infidelity to her, and helps get him fired from his position as gamekeeper. As the novel concludes, Mellors is in the process of divorcing her.
In Lady Chatterley's Lover, Lawrence comes full circle to argue once again for individual regeneration, which can be found only through the relationship between man and woman (and, he asserts sometimes, man and man). Love and personal relationships are the threads that bind this novel together. Lawrence explores a wide range of different types of relationships. The reader sees the brutal, bullying relationship between Mellors and his wife Bertha, who punishes him by preventing his pleasure. There is Tommy Dukes, who has no relationship because he cannot find a woman whom he respects intellectually and, at the same time, finds desirable. There is also the perverse, maternal relationship that ultimately develops between Clifford and Mrs. Bolton, his caring nurse, after Connie has left.
Mind and body
Richard Hoggart argues that the main subject of Lady Chatterley's Lover is not the sexual passages that were the subject of such debate but the search for integrity and wholeness. Key to this integrity is cohesion between the mind and the body for "body without mind is brutish; mind without body...is a running away from our double being." Lady Chatterley's Lover focuses on the incoherence of living a life that is "all mind", which Lawrence saw as particularly true among the young members of the aristocratic classes, as in his description of Constance's and her sister Hilda's "tentative love-affairs" in their youth:
So they had given the gift of themselves, each to the youth with whom she had the most subtle and intimate arguments. The arguments, the discussions were the great thing: the love-making and connexion were only sort of primitive reversion and a bit of an anti-climax.
The contrast between mind and body can be seen in the dissatisfaction each has with their previous relationships: Constance's lack of intimacy with her husband who is "all mind" and Mellors's choice to live apart from his wife because of her "brutish" sexual nature. These dissatisfactions lead them into a relationship that builds very slowly and is based upon tenderness, physical passion, and mutual respect. As the relationship between Lady Chatterley and Mellors develops, they learn more about the interrelation of the mind and the body; she learns that sex is more than a shameful and disappointing act, and he learns about the spiritual challenges that come from physical love.
Neuro-psychoanalyst Mark Blechner identifies the "Lady Chatterley phenomenon" in which the same sexual act can affect people in different ways at different times, depending on their subjectivity. He bases it on the passage in which Lady Chatterley feels disengaged from Mellors and thinks disparagingly about the sex act: "And this time the sharp ecstasy of her own passion did not overcome her; she lay with hands inert on his striving body, and do what she might, her spirit seemed to look on from the top of her head, and the butting of his haunches seemed ridiculous to her, and the sort of anxiety of his penis to come to its little evacuating crisis seemed farcical. Yes, this was love, this ridiculous bouncing of the buttocks, and the wilting of the poor insignificant, moist little penis." Shortly thereafter, they make love again, and this time, she experiences enormous physical and emotional involvement: "And it seemed she was like the sea, nothing but dark waves rising and heaving, heaving with a great swell, so that slowly her whole darkness was in motion, and she was ocean rolling its dark, dumb mass."
Besides the evident sexual content of the book, Lady Chatterley’s Lover also presents some views on the British social context of the early 20th century. For example, Constance’s social insecurity, arising from being brought up in an upper middle class background, in contrast with Sir Clifford’s social self-assurance, becomes more evident in passages such as:
Clifford Chatterley was more upper-class than Connie. Connie was well-to-do intelligentsia, but he was aristocracy. Not the big sort, but still it. His father was a baronet, and his mother had been a viscount’s daughter.
There are also signs of dissatisfaction and resentment of the Tevershall coal pit’s workers, the colliers, against Clifford, who owned the mines. By the time Clifford and Connie had moved to Wragby Hall, Clifford's father's estate in Nottinghamshire, the coal industry in England seemed to be in decline, although the coal pit was still a big part in the life of the neighbouring town of Tevershall. References to the concepts of anarchism, socialism, communism, and capitalism permeate the book. Union strikes were also a constant preoccupation in Wragby Hall. An argument between Clifford and Connie goes:
‘’Oh good!, said Connie. “If only there aren’t more strikes!”
“What would be the use of their striking again! Merely ruin the industry, what’s left of it; and surely the owls are beginning to see it!”
“Perhaps they don’t mind ruining the industry,” said Connie.
“Ah, don’t talk like a woman! The industry fills their bellies, even if it can’t keep their pockets quite so flush,” he said, using turns of speech that oddly had a twang of Mrs. Bolton.
The most obvious social contrast in the plot, however, is that of the affair of an aristocratic woman (Connie) with a working class man (Mellors). Mark Schorer, an American writer and literary critic, considers a familiar construction in D.H. Lawrence's works the forbidden love of a woman of relatively superior social situation who is drawn to an "outsider" (a man of lower social rank or a foreigner), in which the woman either resists her impulse or yields to it. Schorer believes the two possibilities were embodied, respectively, in the situation into which Lawrence was born, and that into which Lawrence married, therefore becoming a favorite topic in his work.
Familiar, too, to much of Lawrence's work is the nearby presence of coal mining. Whilst it has a more direct role in Sons and Lovers and in Women in Love, it casts its influence over much of Lady Chatterley's Lover too. Lawrence's own father was a miner, and the author was intimately familiar with the region of the Derby/Notts coalfield, having been born at Eastwood, Nottingham. The significance of coal in the background to Lawrence's novels cannot be overstressed, when considering his treatment of social class issues. Involved with hard, dangerous and health-threatening employment, the unionised and self-supporting pit-village communities in Britain have been home to more pervasive class barriers than has been the case in other industries (for an example, see chapter two of The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell.) They were also centers of widespread non-conformist (Non-Anglican Protestant) religion, which tended to hold especially proscriptive views on matters such as adultery.
An authorised abridgment of Lady Chatterley's Lover that was heavily censored was published in America by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1928. This edition was subsequently reissued in paperback in America both by Signet Books and by Penguin Books in 1946.
British obscenity trial
When the full unexpurgated edition was published by Penguin Books in Britain in 1960, the trial of Penguin under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 was a major public event and a test of the new obscenity law. The 1959 act (introduced by Roy Jenkins) had made it possible for publishers to escape conviction if they could show that a work was of literary merit. One of the objections was to the frequent use of the word "fuck" and its derivatives. Another objection involves the use of the word "cunt".
Various academic critics and experts of diverse kinds, including E. M. Forster, Helen Gardner, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams and Norman St John-Stevas, were called as witnesses, and the verdict, delivered on 2 November 1960, was "not guilty". This resulted in a far greater degree of freedom for publishing explicit material in the United Kingdom. The prosecution was ridiculed for being out of touch with changing social norms when the chief prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, asked if it were the kind of book "you would wish your wife or servants to read".
The Penguin second edition, published in 1961, contains a publisher's dedication, which reads: "For having published this book, Penguin Books were prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, 1959 at the Old Bailey in London from 20 October to 2 November 1960. This edition is therefore dedicated to the twelve jurors, three women and nine men, who returned a verdict of 'Not Guilty' and thus made D. H. Lawrence's last novel available for the first time to the public in the United Kingdom."
Not only was the book banned in Australia, but a book describing the British trial, The Trial of Lady Chatterley, was also banned. A copy was smuggled into the country and then published widely. The fallout from this event eventually led to the easing of censorship of books in the country, although the country still retains the Office of Film and Literature Classification. In early October 2009, the federal institution of Australia Post banned the sale of this book in their stores and outlets claiming that books of this nature don't fit in with the 'theme of their stores'.
In 1945, McGill University Professor of Law and Canadian modernist poet F. R. Scott appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada to defend Lady Chatterley's Lover from censorship. However, despite Scott's efforts, the book was banned in Canada for 30 years due to concerns about its use of "obscene language" and explicit depiction of sexual intercourse. On 15 November 1960 an Ontario panel of experts, appointed by Attorney General Kelso Roberts, found that novel was not obscene according to the Canadian Criminal Code.
In 1930, Senator Bronson Cutting proposed an amendment to the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act, which was then being debated, ending the practice of having U.S. Customs censor allegedly obscene books imported to U.S. shores. Senator Reed Smoot vigorously opposed such an amendment, threatening to publicly read indecent passages of imported books in front of the Senate. Although he never followed through, he included Lady Chatterley's Lover as an example of an obscene book that must not reach domestic audiences, declaring "I've not taken ten minutes on Lady Chatterley's Lover, outside of looking at its opening pages. It is most damnable! It is written by a man with a diseased mind and a soul so black that he would obscure even the darkness of hell!"
Lady Chatterley's Lover was one of a trio of books (the others being Tropic of Cancer and Fanny Hill), the ban on which was fought and overturned in court with assistance by lawyer Charles Rembar in 1959. It was then published by Grove Press, with the complete opinion by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Frederick van Pelt Bryan, which first established the standard of "redeeming social or literary value" as a defense against obscenity charges.
A French film (1955) based on the novel and released by Kingsley Pictures was in the United States the subject of attempted censorship in New York on the grounds that it promoted adultery. The Supreme Court held that the law prohibiting its showing was a violation of the First Amendment's protection of free speech.
The book was famously distributed in the U.S. by Frances Steloff at the Gotham Book Mart, in defiance of the book ban.
The publication of a full translation of Lady Chatterley's Lover by Sei Ito in 1950 led to a famous obscenity trial in Japan, extending from 8 May 1951 to 18 January 1952, with appeals lasting to 13 March 1957. Several notable literary figures testified for the defense, but the trial ultimately ended in a guilty verdict with a ¥100,000 fine for Ito and a ¥250,000 fine for his publisher.
Ranjit D. Udeshi v. State of Maharashtra (AIR 1968 SC 881) was eventually laid before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India, where Chief Justice Hidayatullah declared the law on the subject of when a book can be regarded as obscene and established important tests of obscenity such as the Hicklin test.
The judgement upheld the conviction, stating that:
When everything said in its favour we find that in treating with sex the impugned portions viewed separately and also in the setting of the whole book pass the permissible limits judged of from our community standards and as there is no social gain to us which can be said to preponderate, we must hold the book to satisfy the test we have indicated above.
In the United States, the free publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover was a significant event in the "sexual revolution". At the time, the book was a topic of widespread discussion and a byword of sorts. In 1965, Tom Lehrer recorded a satirical song entitled "Smut", in which the speaker in the song lyrics cheerfully acknowledges his enjoyment of such material; "Who needs a hobby like tennis or philately?/I've got a hobby: rereading Lady Chatterley."
British poet Philip Larkin's poem "Annus Mirabilis" begins with a reference to the trial:
- Sexual intercourse began
- In nineteen sixty-three
- (which was rather late for me) –
- Between the end of the "Chatterley" ban
- And The Beatles' first LP.
By 1976, the story had become sufficiently safe in Britain to be parodied by Morecambe and Wise; a "play what Ernie wrote", The Handyman and M'Lady, was obviously based on it, with Michele Dotrice as the Lady Chatterley figure, Ernie as her husband, and Eric as the handyman she has a fling with. Introducing it, Ernie explained that his play was "about a man who has an accident with a combine harvester, which unfortunately makes him impudent".
- Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928), edited by Michael Squires, Cambridge University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-521-22266-4.
- The First and Second Lady Chatterley Novels, edited by Dieter Mehl and Christa Jansohn, Cambridge University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-521-47116-8. These two books, The First Lady Chatterley and John Thomas and Lady Jane were earlier drafts of Lawrence's last novel.
- The Second Lady Chatterley's Lover, Oneworld Classics 2007, ISBN 978-1-84749-019-3
Soon after the 1928 publication and suppression, an unexpurgated Tauchnitz edition appeared in Europe. Jock Colville, then 18, purchased a copy in Germany in 1933 and lent it to his mother Lady Cynthia, who passed it on to Queen Mary, only for it to be confiscated by King George V.
In 1946 an English hardcover edition, copyright Jan Förlag, was published by Victor Pettersons Bokindustriaktiebolag Stockholm, Sweden. It is marked "Unexpurgated authorized edition". A paperback edition followed in 1950.
Lady Chatterley's Lover has been adapted for BBC Radio 4 by acclaimed writer Michelene Wandor and was first broadcast in September 2006.
Film and television
Lady Chatterley's Lover has been adapted for film several times:
- In 1955, there was L'Amant de lady Chatterley, starring Danielle Darrieux; it was banned in the United States.
- In 1979, an Indian film in Malayalam titled Sharapancharam (Bed of Arrows), starring Jayan and Sheela and directed by Hariharan, was released whose story was loosely based on Lady Chatterley's Lover.
- 1981 film version by Just Jaeckin starring Sylvia Kristel and Nicholas Clay.
- In 1993 a lengthy television mini-series entitled Lady Chatterley directed by Ken Russell starring Joely Richardson and Sean Bean for BBC Television. This film incorporates some material from the longer second version John Thomas and Lady Jane.
- In 1998, director Viktor Polesný filmed a Czech television version entitled Milenec lady Chatterleyové with Zdena Studenková (Constance), Marek Vašut (Clifford) and Boris Rösner (Mellors).
- In 2006, the French director Pascale Ferran filmed a French-Language version with Marina Hands as Constance and Jean-Louis Coulloc'h as the game keeper, which won the Cesar Award for Best Film in 2007. Marina Hands was awarded best actress at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. The film was based on John Thomas and Lady Jane, Lawrence's second version of the story. It was broadcast on the French television channel Arte on 22 June 2007 as Lady Chatterley et l'homme des bois (Lady Chatterley and the Man of the Woods).
- Use of character
The character of Lady Chatterley appears in Young Lady Chatterley (1977), Lady Chatterly [sic] Versus Fanny Hill (1974) and Fanny Hill Meets Lady Chatterly [sic] (1967).
Lawrence's novel was successfully dramatised for the stage in a three-act play by a young British playwright named John Harte. Although produced at The Arts Theatre in London in 1961 (and elsewhere later on), his play was written in 1953. It was the only D. H. Lawrence novel ever to be staged and his dramatisation was the only one to be read and approved by Lawrence's widow, Frieda. Despite her attempts to obtain the copyright for Harte to have his play staged in the 1950s, Baron Philippe de Rothschild did not relinquish the dramatic rights until his film was released in France.
Only the Old Bailey trial against Penguin Books for alleged obscenity in publishing the unexpurgated paperback edition of the novel prevented the play's transfer to the much bigger Wyndham's Theatre, for which it had already been licensed by the Lord Chamberlain's Office on 12 August 1960 with passages censored. It was fully booked out for its limited run at The Arts Theatre and well reviewed by Harold Hobson, the prevailing West End theatre critic of the time.
- The Trial of Lady Chatterley, C. H. Rolph, ISBN 0-14-013381-X
- Hoggart, R. Introduction to Lady Chatterley's Lover, 2nd Edition ISBN 0-14-001484-5
- ^ Barbara Winter, The Australia-First Movement and the Publicist, 1936-1942 (Carindale, Queensland: Glass House, 2005). ISBN 1-876819-91-X.
- ^ Maev Kennedy, "The real Lady Chatterley: society hostess loved and parodied by Bloomsbury group", The Guardian, 10 October 2006. Accessed 19 June 2008.
- ^ a b Hoggart, R. (1961) Introduction to Lady Chatterley's Lover, 2nd Edition; p viii
- ^ Lawrence, D.H. Lady Chatterley's Lover 2nd Edition, p7
- ^ Hoggart, R. (1961) Introduction to Lady Chatterley's Lover, 2nd Edition; p x
- ^ Blechner, M. J. (2009) 'Sex Changes: Transformations in Society and Psychoanalysis.' New York and London: Taylor & Francis.
- ^ Lawrence, D. H. (1928/2003) 'Lady Chatterley's Lover.' New York: Signet, p. 182.
- ^ Lawrence, D. H. (1928/2003) 'Lady Chatterley's Lover.' New York: Signet, p. 184.
- ^ Lawrence, D. H. (1928/2003) 'Lady Chatterley's Lover.' New York: Dover, p. 5.
- ^ Lawrence, D. H. (1928/2003) 'Lady Chatterley's Lover.' New York: Dover, p. 148.
- ^ Schorer, Mark, Introduction to 'Lady Chatterley's Lover.' New York: Grover Press, 1993, p. 17.
- ^ "News". Sympatico.ca. http://www1.sympatico.ca/cgi-bin/on_this_day?mth=Nov&day=15. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- ^ "Decency Squabble", Time magazine, 31 March 1930
- ^ Crowther, Bosley (11 July 1959). "Controversial Movie has Premiere Here,". New York Times (Movies.nytimes.com). http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=980CE4DE143BEF3BBC4952DFB1668382649EDE. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- ^ KINGSLEY PICTURES CORP. v. REGENTS, 360 U.S. 684 (1959) Findlaw.com
- ^ "Laws – IPC – Section 292". Vakilno1.com. http://www.vakilno1.com/bareacts/IndianPenalCode/S292.htm. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- ^ "Ranjit D. Udeshi v. State of Maharashtra (1964)". Worldlii.org. http://www.worldlii.org/in/cases/cen/INSC/1964/177.html. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- ^ The Handyman and M'Lady (edited)[dead link]
- ^ Footprints in Time. John Colville. 1976. Chapter 6, Lady Chatterley's Lover.
- ^ Milenec lady Chatterleyové (Czech-language television version)
- ^ Pascale Ferran, Internet Movie Database.
- ^ Andre Soares, Tribeca Film Festival Awards – 2007 Winners, Alternative Film Guide, 5 May 2007. Accessed 19 June 2008.
- Free e-text of Lady Chatterley's Lover on Project Gutenberg Australia.
- Lady Chatterley's Lover at Grove Press, the American publisher of the book
- Lady Chatterley's Lover trial papers University of Bristol Library Special Collections
- Guardian newspaper analysis of the trial
- Obituary for Michael Rubinstein The Independent, 15 January 2001
- History of the Penguin Archive by Toby Clements, The Telegraph (London), 19 February 2009
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