Lady Chatterley's Lover has been a banned book since it's publication in 1928. Even then it was only published privately in Italy. It wasn't until 1960, after Penguin was acquitted from The Obscene Publications Act of 1959, that the book was published in the UK. After this scandal the book became widely popular. Purchasers eagerly paged through the novel in search of the dirty bits, as shown below:
The publication history of this novel is almost as interesting as the novel itself. Not only does Lady Chatterley's Lover examine the love between and man and a woman and the bond it creates - with a focus on the woman's perspective as it relates to her sexual experience; how she perceives good sex verses bad sex, and what it is she yearns for - but it also touches on the cultural implications of industrialization and modernization; namely acting as a threat to modern aestheticism, taking away from the human condition and lending itself to greed - an idea that seems particularly relevant today.
But back to the sex. There were certainly raunchy bits, but they weren't written of colloquially. In fact the dirty parts were written in such a formal tone that is actually made it comical, as sex is usually anything but formal.
Whilst all her womb was open and soft, and softly clamoring, like a sea-anemone under the tide, clamoring fr him to come in again and make a fulfillment for her. She clung to him unconscious in passion, and he never quite slipped from her, and she felt the soft bud of him within her stirring, and strange rhythms flushing up into her with a strange rhythmic growing motion, swelling and swelling til it filled all her cleaving consciousness.But maybe Lawrence did this intentionally to suggest Lady Chatterley understood these acts of passion to be admirable and dignified as a way of justifying her affair. As Lady Chatterley's lover tells her, "You love fucking alright: but you want it to be called something grand and mysterious, just to flatter your own self-importance."
D. H. Lawrence also has a knack for relating the real and honest aspects that come along with sharing your nakedness with another person. Not only does he communicate the romantic aspect of this excitement, he also highlights the silliness of it; the touching and the exploring of an anatomy that is opposite to ours. I especially laughed when Connie (Lady Constance Chatterley) commented on the "mystery" of a certain part of male anatomy - a sentiment that I happen to share with her:
And the strange weight of the balls between his legs! What a mystery! What a strange heavy weight of mystery, that could lie soft and heavy in one's hand! The roots, root of all that is lovely, the primeval root of all full beauty.But in all seriousness, I enjoyed Lady Chatterley's Lover very much. It's more than a book with a lot of sex in it. It's a book that explores the significance of the physicality in a relationship - the sexual bond between a man and a woman. Lady's Chatterley's husband, Clifford, and her lover, Mellors, function as foils to one another to highlight the importance of this bond in sustaining a healthy and happy relationship. It's also a sort of "Awakening" tale; the disillusioned woman who is stuck in a loveless relationship finds a new beginning and her true self when she ventures outside of that relationship and explores a new one. According to 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, this novel "remains one of the few novels in English literary history that addresses female sexual desire". Well, even though it was written by a man, D. H. Lawrence was spot on.
I should also mention this novel takes a bit of patience to read. It is wonderfully written but things unfold rather slowly and there are lengthy sections of dialogue that discuss the (then) current state of culture and gender roles. While this made the book all the more interesting, it also made it slow going. But I promise your patience will pay off. Lady Chatterley's Lover is well worth the read. I'm even hoping to add more D.H. Lawrence to my nightstand.
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Classics, 1928