Monday, March 7, 2011

Thinking More about Book Banning...

...and about Lady Chatterley's Lover.

After reading the thoughtful comments on yesterday's post, having a long discussion about book banning with my partner David, and reading the ALA banned books pages and other online resources, I came to the conclusion that I must read D.H Lawrence's novel.  Although I've read about it--and made a lot of assumptions about both the writing and the subject--I've not read a single word of the actual book.  And aren't our assumptions about books we haven't actually read a huge factor in so many efforts to ban books?

So instead of progressing today with my thoughts on women in the Odyssey or about Homer's creation of perhaps the first first-person narration, I'm off to read explicit sex and unprintable words.

Back to the ancients--really!--next time.


  1. I'm very much looking forward to hearing what you think. Lady Chatterley is a book that surprised me a lot.

  2. I couldn't think of the word I wanted yesterday. I wanted to say that the sex in LADY CHATTERLEY is certainly explicit, but it's also----and there my mind went blank. Later, talking to my David, the word came to me: tender. The love-making and talk of love-making, despite the number of letters in the words, is very tender. You may be surprised.

  3. Lady Chatterly's Lover is a lovely book, about a woman's discovery of the body -- of honoring the body with the same reverence as the mind. She lacks that reverence, in her marriage. It's about putting soul back into love-making -- not making sex into a machine (like the rest of the industry in Lawrence's day.)

    Gor example, the factories and coal industry.

    Sex isn't about building and aquiring; it's about two souls, joined. The book is meaningful -- though there are some shocking passages. The shock is with purpose. Lawrence wanted to shock the soul awake, I think.

  4. Yes, I'm interested in hearing what you think too! I actually quite liked the book, though I wasn't expected SO many c-words ...

  5. I haven't read this one, but I was a bit shocked to hear that it was the 11-year-old's banned book! I'll be interesting in hearing your thoughts on this.

  6. Thanks for the comments, everybody. I'm loving the book so far--and promise to post about it sometime soon. The tender, reverent tone really comes through and gives the book a feel I did not expect--a more philosophical and thematic book rather than something scandalous. Still--I can't imagine what an 11yo would make of it!

  7. I read Lady Chatterley for the first time around your son's age. The message I got from it at the time, in contrast to, for example, music videos on MTV, was that sex is a sacred and powerful thing that can form deep connections between people, even bringing the emotionally scarred back to life. Also I thought the running-around-in-the-rain scene was excruciatingly corny.

    For the record, I was also reading more sexually explicit things, and more what I would call sexually disturbing things, at the same age - Anne Rice, Jim Carroll, and rock & roll memoirs about touring with The Doors. None of it left me traumatized; I'm sure some of it went over my head, but then again I'm sure that much of the books I read now go over my head as well.

    I don't really think Lawrence's messages in the book are all that complex, to be honest. As an adult, I think his view of sexuality is a bit overly simplistic, although I do admire what he was brave enough to do back in 1928.

  8. I'm so glad you chimed in, Emily! I've not heard from anyone else who read the book at a young age.

    Lawrence is pretty conventional in his ideas of sex as an expression of emotional love. I'm only about half way through the novel and I'm still waiting for the transgressive--but it feels pretty tame compared to what we see in a lot of pop culture today. Here, sex is used to show a point (as it does in some of Hemingway)--not just to shock. And the point here is something we now see as relatively conservative: sex outside of marriage can still be sacred.


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