Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Lady Chatterley's numerous close friends

That Lady Chatterley was a bit of a goer, I've discovered.

Browsing in the library yesterday I came upon D.H. Lawrence's novel and picked it up. I was eight when Penguin Books was prosecuted for publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover, a little young - in those days certainly - to have an understanding of indecency or the importance of the case. I'm sure it must have been circulated, certainly by the time I got to grammar school, under wraps by teenage girls keen to find out what all the fuss was about but it passed me by. I was an innocent in those days.

So I thought maybe it was time to read it for myself. I flicked it open to assess the readability: I read last thing at night so can't cope with anything too literary. By some coincidence it fell open at a 'dirty' bit complete with 'penis' and much grasping of buttocks - and it wasn't even with the gamekeeper. I closed it quickly; the library isn't the place to have a hot flush.

"The key factor in the decision to prosecute was that Penguin proposed to sell the book for 3/6; in other words, to put it within easy reach of women and the working classes. This, the DPP's files reveal, was what the upper-middle-class male lawyers and politicians of the time refused to tolerate."
(From The Guardian)

And now it's on a library bookshelf without even a warning that it may cause middle-aged women to blush furiously.

I'm only on chapter four so I'll let you know how things progress ...

P.S. Please pretend this was written yesterday otherwise my intention to write each day in November (for NanoWriMo) will have fallen at the first garden shed.


8 comments:

Graham Hunt said...

How times move on... quickly... I'm only a mere few years younger than yourself and we read it at grammar school when I was 13/14 I recall 1975/6 just as The Clash and Sex Pistols grew large in my life.

In the days before national curriculum etc. our English teacher - early 30s, long hair, flares, colourful jackets with wide lapels, long hair and beard... it was the 70s remember - decided that he should instil in us a interest in literature. So Animal Farm, Lady Chatterley, Cider with Rosie and others were on the reading list. To Kill a Mockingbird too which I always remember as the best in my humble opinion - now sadly expunged from teenagers by kicking all American authors off the approved list. I remember that really to me Chatterley was more about class etc. than Orwell was and the sex was only a vehicle to provoke shock. I wonder what the 60s judges etc. would think of a bearded hippy getting pubescent boys to study this stuff?
BTW - it did work to a degree. A year of so later I read Breakfast for Champions by Kurt Vonnegut and went to find this teacher who's class I was no longer in. He dismissed it as a work but at least smiled as I said "I can't believe someone can actually write like that".
Sad that today few teachers are given the freedom and chance to inspire like that isn't it?

Rose said...

I read "Lady Chatterley's Lover" for a class as a freshman in college. I must have been very innocent and naive at the time, because it was the most explicit book I'd ever read and was too embarrassed to carry it around. But I read it several years later for another class and didn't like it nearly so much. I understood the class conflict much better then, but I also thought Lawrence was awfully sexist.

Ole Phat Stu said...

One of the reviews at the time classified it as "Chatty slave drollery".
Only years later did I realise that tis is an anagram of "Lady Chatterly's lover" :-)

Nick said...

I've never read it, but I never fail to be amused by the bizarre reasons trotted out for banning some book or work of art. They're always thought to be damaging or corrupting or subversive in some nebulous way. When the restrictions are finally lifted, of course it's a complete anti-climax and nobody bats an eyelid except a few crusty old gents in Biggleswade.

Liz Hinds said...

Graham, what an amazing teacher! We had a stand-in teacher for a while and she was young and trendy and had us reading Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex But were Afraid to ask. I don't know how she got away with it.

Rose, I must say I'm not enjoying it and may give up soon. I don't like the style of writing or the characters.

Clever, stu.

Banning anything always makes it more popular too, Nick. I haven't read any of Lawrence's other works but I really don't like the style of this. It's old-fashioned, true, but also I think it allows the author to wallow in his own genius.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

For us Shocker of the Year was 'Forever Amber' . We only had one copy between us ( boarding school ) so it was wrapped in brown paper and handed round furtively .
I wouldn't bother getting it out of the library specially ...

Liz Hinds said...

I'm sure I've read that but can't remember it being shocking.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Exactly .
But it was the end of the '50s and bosoms were mentioned ...