Glynn Marshes writes:
I happened across a thread on Goodreads about DH Lawrence’s novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The title of the thread is “Why wasnt Mellors concerned about satisfying Connie”– and here’s a sample of the thread’s comments:
The love story between them was unconvincing . . .
This book is an anti-feminist novel from my perspective. The girl is strong in the beginning, then marries some guy she doesn’t love for no apparent reason, and only when some asshole guy comes along does she learn anything about herself? It just didn’t convince me at all.
This book was one among many that were useful for keeping even well-educated women down during the first 60 years of the 20th century. What Mellors was concerned with was his own sensuality; presumably so was Lawrence–and both with defining the woman they, presumably, loved so as to to keep her in her place. Lawrence’s prose is lovely and seductive, but would you buy a used condom from this creep?
Initially upon finishing, I appreciated the light love story where Connie ‘stooped’ beneath her class and followed her passion. I saw the author as a modern thinker. It seems though that the more we discuss this novel the clearer it solidifies Mellors as a self satisfying masculist.
I was dismayed to read these, but (sigh) not surprised. I’ve been on the receiving end of a similar reaction by today’s enlightened readers. I know first-hand what they apparently expect from their novels.
Didacticism. Or so it seems at first blush: they want novels that instruct them on feminist principles.
But it’s not even that. These readers are already feminists. They already know that a woman should be strong, and should never be “kept in her place” by a man, and that her orgasms are as important, dammit, as any man’s, and that the real definition of female virtue is self-determination and self-empowerment above all else.
No, what they really want is a fantasy. A fantasy that confirms their pre-conceptions about female virtue (as they define it) and its value.
Notice that two of the commenters criticize the book as “unconvincing.” They are disappointed in Lawrence because the novel failed to make the case that Connie could find happiness by replacing her (emasculated) upper class husband with her one, true love.
Absent is any awareness whatsoever that Lawrence was exploring questions that transcend gender and gender roles, or that by contemporary standards it was groundbreaking for him to suggest publicly that anyone — male or female — deserved the pleasure of an orgasm, or that he was raised in a home where male-female relationships were strained to put it mildly or that literature might — just might– from time to time depict life as it actually is, rather than as you like to pretend it is as you frantically try to avoid it.
Ugh, I’ll just say it. There’s really no awareness on display at all, beyond that minimally required by a consumer of 21st century ready-for-another-spoonful-then-open-wide mass market entertainment.
Note that the thread title doesn’t even end with a question mark.
That’s because it’s not a question. It’s a complaint.
It’s a whine . . .