Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
I remember my sister reading this book in high school and her English teacher being nervous because of the sexual content. I found this book on sale at my university bookstore and then just never read it for years. And now, with reading-from-the-shelves project underway, I’ve finally been able to check it off my list. This book was kind of a head-scratcher for me, though. Let’s dig in.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover is infamous for its explicit sexual content (at least, back in the time of its publication). It focuses on Constance Chatterley, a woman who has married a noble paralyzed by his time in the war. Included in his paralysis is complete sexual dysfunction. Clifford is open to Connie having a discreet affair with a man of high birth and producing a child to give him an heir. So naturally, Connie has an affair with the estate’s gamekeeper instead. She discovers her sexual appetite, even as she contemplates the strictures of class and money that endanger her social standing and render her vulnerable to a restrictive and heteronormative world.
Having to organize my thoughts with this book was difficult for me. On the one hand, I appreciate that D.H. Lawrence delved into the female psyche and explored her sexuality as an existent component. On the other hand, there was still so much male-centered narrative and description, that it felt laughable. Lawrence’s psychological exploration of Connie’s sexuality still felt very Freudian. So…I don’t know how I feel about this book. I’m glad I read it, but I don’t think it’s a keeper for the shelves.