As ever, thanks to Blogs of a Bookaholic for creating this challenge.
My initial instinct was to groan about the Fifty Shades Trilogy or The Alchemist. Then I thought about it for a few minutes and remembered the book that left me feeling about as disappointed as Margery Tyrell on her wedding night to Renly Baratheon.
Allow me to present the one, the only, the (in my opinion) overrated Lady Chatterley’s Lover. And my issue with it is not just the sex scenes. In fact, my issue is more with the author than the text…
OK, so my main issue Lawrence is his rather Nazi view of what should be done to those weaker and worse off than him. In a letter, written in 1908 to Blanche Jennings, he said:
“If I had my way, I would build a lethal chamber as big as the Crystal Palace, with a military band playing softly, and a Cinematograph working brightly; then I’d go out in the back streets and main streets and bring them in, all the sick, the halt, and the maimed; I would lead them gently, and they would smile me a weary thanks; and the band would softly bubble out the “Hallelujah Chorus””
Whilst I know that one’s judgement of a piece of literature should not be coloured by one’s opinion of its author’s political ideology but that quote has somewhat coloured my opinion of him and, by extension, his work. The thing is that in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Lawrence’s ideology does influence the text. He mocks and disparages those characters that he dislikes including Clifford, who belongs to ‘the maimed’, whom he wanted to dispose of earlier. As such, I feel vindicated in allowing my judgement of his ideology to colour my reading of the text.
If you catch my drift?
My second reason for finding this book over-rated is what some might refer to as “the inherent sexism of the text”. Whilst it has been called into question over recent years because of this letter, there are parts that still make me feel uncomfortable. Much in the same way that Blurred Lines makes me feel uncomfortable even though Robin Thicke has repeatedly stated that he believes that it’s ‘a feminist movement within itself‘.
If there hadn’t been so much furore surrounding the novel and the eventual ‘obscenity trial’, that further raised its profile, I do wonder if less people would know about it now and if it would have been excluded from a couple- not all, but one or two- ‘books you have to read before you die’ lists.
What do you think?