LAWRENCE AND THE WOMEN by Elaine Feinstein

LAWRENCE AND THE WOMEN

The Intimate Life of D.H. Lawrence
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 With a rich idea satisfyingly carried out, novelist/biographer Feinstein (All You Need, 1990, etc.) focuses on the erotic life of D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930). Curiously pagan yet puritanical, Lawrence, Feinstein explains, remained a virgin until his 23rd year and later assumed a strange stance in print--that woman was the sexual servant of man and should not be brought to orgasm during love-play, and that exciting the clitoris was a ``lesbian'' practice not to be allowed by a proud male. Nonetheless, he wrote about sex with a lyrical flair and frankness unmatched in English literature. He was misunderstood, however, since although the object of his groundbreaking Lady Chatterley's Lover was to celebrate tenderness between lovers, not greasy sex, Lady Chatterley followed his earlier The Rainbow in being publicly vilified and banned. Feinstein looks into the love ties between the nonadulterous Lawrence and all the women in his life. The writer, she says, hated his coal-miner father for being beastly to his mother, and drew him savagely in Sons and Lovers, but then later came round to his father's view, feeling that in a robust marriage, such as his own with Frieda von Richthofen, he should imitate his father and wipe up the floor with Frieda regularly. Six years older than Lawrence and the married mother of three children, Frieda gave up her family to run off with the young writer. But to Lawrence, any woman who befriended him was fair game for his pen, and he alienated many with his deeply dismissive or poisonous portraits. A typical Lawrence moment: He dusts some cups and saucers with a poker, then says, ``Beware, Frieda, if you ever talk to me like that again, it will not be the tea things I smash but your head.'' Not much new, but smartly joined together. (Sixteen pages of b&w photos--not seen.)

Pub Date: March 17th, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-016226-0
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993




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