the Modern Novel - Part One
Monday, November 29, 2010
the Modern Novel - Part One
NOTE: While my posts usually are kept PG-13, this one does have a few swears in it for educational purposes as I discuss the book Lady Chatterly's Lover, and may not be suitable for an immature audience.
I haven't posted the past couple of weeks because I'm dealing with migraines and a sinus infection. I thought I was getting better, but I'm not.
Anyway, I've been talking about reading the classics to see what they have to be considered classics. First off, for those who haven't read the other two posts before, I'm not talking about Shakespeare. Sure, what he did may have been pioneering, but his plays and stories are boring. Readers today like a good blend of action and mystery - whether there is a romance or not.
Yeah, yeah, there are plenty of Shakespeare readers out there wanting to argue with me right now. I didn't say his work was bad, they were just boring, especially for people who need to have the entire story interpreted for them because of the archaic references.
My overall beef with his work? They aren't true representations of life in his time. People did not speak the way they did in his plays, among other things. Shakespeare's whole point was to entertain his audience, no matter what story he told while other authors had other, more specific points to make.
Well, I decided to take my own advice. While I really wanted to read Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll, I picked up a classic I already owned and haven't read yet - Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence.
For different academic classes I've read (besides Shakespeare, and I've read plenty of his work) Dracula by Bram Stoker, Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins among a host of others.
I thought that since this a romance blog, I would finally read Lady Chatterly's Lover.
Let me tell you, I'm not all that impressed. There's no way this book would get published the way this originally was, and it has nothing to do with the not-so-racy topics in the book. I'm reading the original, 1928 unexpurgated version.
For starters, there are way too many information dumps and nowhere near enough dialogue. Much of what was given in a dump could have been revealed through dialogue. Yes, I get that he was trying to set the scene, but there are better ways of doing that than info dumps. Not only that, most of the writing wasn't very descriptive, or was vague at best. For example, he uses the term "ruddy" too much for his descriptions and "ridiculous". But, then again, his overuse of the word "ridiculous" adds to his mockery of society at the time.
This book was considered pornographic at the time, but I think it was for more than just the fact that he openly wrote about sex - a taboo subject even in 1928 - but the fact that he made a mockery of the government, society as a whole, the soldiers and "famous" authors. I think this work just offended so many people that they felt they needed to prevent people from reading it, so they banned it. In fact, the unexpurgated version of the story was illegal to circulate in Britain until 1960.
So, why is this still considered classic literature even though the way it's written needs work?
For several reasons:
1. It's groundbreaking, pioneering and the first of it's kind to use some of the seven dirty words - Shit and Fuck are two that have made appearances that I found - as well as speak openly about sex.
2. It focuses on the woman being the "cheater" instead of the man.
3. It mocks the very society it was trying to honestly portray.
4. It focuses on sex and a woman's need for sex just as much of a man's need for it.
5. In overt ways it broaches homosexuality in that there are a couple male friends of her husbands that make roundabout comments about not being able to have an erection with a woman.
This is the best I can figure so far, as I'm only up to 5 of 19 chapters - the migraines make it difficult to read anything right now - but I plan on finishing it.
This novel could be considered the "grandmother" to erotic and steamy romance novels. Even though the romance novel began in 1740 with Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, by Samuel Richardson, it wasn't until 1972 and the release of Woodiwiss's The Flame and the Flower that boundaries of plot and character began to be pushed and expanded. This novel attempted to do that, but unlike The Flame and the Flower, Lady Chatterly's Lover did more than push boundaries, it pushed buttons, too many buttons.
As I can't put coherent thoughts together right now, I'll take that as my cue to stop.