Wednesday, July 1, 2009

128. The Rainbow – D.H. Lawrence

April 2008
History: The Rainbow, published first in 1915, is the complete and exquisitely organized form of D.H. Lawrence's views about familial relationships. Lawrence's frank treatment of sexual desire and the power plays within relationships as a natural and even spiritual force of life, though perhaps tame by modern standards, caused The Rainbow to be prosecuted in an obscenity trial in late 1915, as a result of which all copies were seized and burnt. After this ban it was unavailable in Britain for 11 years, although editions were available in the USA.
Plot: The Rainbow chronicles three generations of Brangwens living near Marsh Farm. Sexually stormy marriages set the stage for conflict and for power struggles within the home. Tradition, passion, children, and compromise define the Brangwen clan, giving its members both happiness and sadness. Ursula Brangwen, the granddaughter of the original Brangwens, takes on the pressures of her upbringing in order to experience life and love on her own terms.
The Brangwen family comes from a long line of farmers. The men of the family feel a strong bond to agriculture and nature while the women long for something more sophisticated along the lines of city life. The youngest son of the family, Tom, is sent to school but is not successful there. After graduating, he returns to run the farm and eventually takes over the farm.
First Tom Brangwen marries Lydia Lensky, a Polish widow. Then Anna, Lydia's daughter by her first husband and Tom's nephew Will, fall in love and marry.
They have a large family, of whom the most important in the story is Ursula. She has a brief but passionate relationship with Anton Skrebensky, the son of a Polish person who was a friend of her grandmother. After he goes to fight in the Boer war, she meets Winifred Inger, a teacher at the school where Ursula has just become a student-teacher herself. Both have a short but intense relationship, which fades when Winifred becomes engaged to Ursula's uncle Tom.
Ursula obtains an interview at a school at Kingston-on-Thames, but her father refuses to let her go and finds her a post at Ilkeston closer to home, where she finds it almost impossible to keep order among her unruly class and decides that most of her staff colleagues are little better, and little help either. Then Anton returns from the war and they discuss the idea of getting engaged. "
Review: Though Lawrence won great recognition as a novelist, yet it has also been acknowledged that he was gifted with the genius of a lyrical poet. his feelings have an intensity and urgency and like a true lyric poet he is personally involved in the experience of his characters.
His characters pass through various moods as the emotional tide ebb and flow; he enters into their feelings or states of mind and depicts them in his own vivid, concrete and moving language, charged with lyrical fervour. Tom and Lydia, the lovers of the first generation, despite their differences attain fulfillment and the author waxes poetic.
Opening Line: “The Brangwens had lived for generations on the Marsh Farm, in the meadows where the Erewash twisted sluggishly through alder trees, separating Derbyshire rom Nottinghamshire.”
Closing Line: “She saw in the rainbow the earth’s new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven.”
Rating: Poor.

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