Lady Chatterley’s Lover
D. H. Lawrence, 1928.
For episode #7 of the podcast I’m joined again by Melbourne cultural critic and writer, the delightful Mel Campbell, to discuss D. H. Lawrence’s last novel, his story of Lady Chatterley’s erotic emancipation. Published in 1928, the book was quickly banned in England and the USA for its “obscene” language of forbidden therefore scandalous sexual love. Burgess had to go to Paris to buy his copy, then tear it up and stuff the pages into his socks to get it back through British customs.
“The oak-leaves were to her like oak-leaves seen ruffling in a mirror, she herself was a figure somebody had read about, picking primroses that were only shadows, or memories, or words” (2005, p19).
Mel and I talk about the nature of Lawrence’s language of erotic love and wild flowers. We suggest that what may have been so politically dangerous about DHL’s prose is the “tenderness” (the novel’s original title) with which he describes Connie’s reclamation of her body from the words of her husband, from the word she once was.
“Whatever the blood feels…” Political, radical, outlawed writing, a lasting testament to Lawrence’s call for a return to the body and its premiere language of “the blood”, the 1928 novel forecasts the later 20th Century feminist movement of writing from the body. Via her passionate erotic affair with Mellors – the gamekeeper on her husband’s inherited estate – Connie authors her sexual emergence from the punitive history of literary representations of women’s desire.
Almost a century later, and surrounded by much talk of Fifty Shades of Grey, we ask: what is it that makes an erotic novel truly dangerous?
D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, (1928), Barnes & Noble Classics, New York, 2005.
[Original image above: Process, not Position, © Helen Milte, Olinda, Australia, 2012.]