Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
(Modern Library Classics)

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It exhales a prodigious, at times comically portentous, concentration upon the self, but none of that superiority which has become at once second nature, style and integument to the combative and cosmopolitan literary milieu of Lawrence’s novels.
-London Review of Books

Synopsis

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'There was one place in the world that stood solid and did not melt into unreality: the place where his mother was. Everybody else could grow shadowy, almost non-existent to him, but she could not.'

In his quest to find his emotional and independent self, Paul Morel is torn between the strong, Oedipal bond he has with his mother and the relationships he forges as a young adult, with chaste Miriam and the provocative Clara. As Paul matures and struggles with his own and his mother's feelings towards the other women in his life, Lawrence expertly crafts a timeless and universal story of family, love and the relationships that define us.

 

About D.H. Lawrence

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D. H. Lawrence was born on September 11, 1885, in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England. His father was a coal miner, his mother a former lace worker and unsuccessful haberdasher. He began school just before the age of four, but respiratory illness and a weak constitution forced him to remain home intermittently. Two months before his sixteenth birthday, he went to work as a clerk in a badly ventilated factory that made medical supplies, and eventually contracted pneumonia. After a long convalescence, he got a job as a student teacher, but privately he resolved to become a poet. He began writing seriously in 1906 and entered University College, Nottingham, to earn his teacher's certificate. Two years later he started teaching elementary school full-time. He published his first poems in the English Review in 1909. When he contracted pneumonia a second time, he gave up teaching. His first two novels, The White Peacock and The Trespasser, were published in 1911 and 1912. About three weeks after the publication of The Trespasser, he left England with Frieda Weekley, née von Richthofen, the German wife of Ernest Weekley, a British linguist who had been his French and German instructor at University College. He wrote the final version of his autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers (1913) - begun when his mother was dying of cancer in 1910 - during his year-long courtship of Frieda in Germany and Italy. Sons and Lovers was immediately recognized as the first great modern restatement of the Oedipal drama, but, like most of Lawrence's novels during his lifetime, sold poorly. Lawrence and Frieda married in London in July 1914, immediately after Frieda's divorce became final; they lived peripatetically and in relative poverty. They spent World War I in England, a country they both essentially disliked, and endured a series of clumsy surveillance and harassment campaigns by local police because of her nationality (several of her relatives were diplomats, statesmen, and politicians, and she was a cousin of Manfred von Richthofen, the "Red Baron") and his apparent lack of patriotism (among other charges, The Prussian Officer, a collection of stories, published in November 1914, several months after Great Britain entered the war, was considered politically and morally offensive by conservative booksellers). Exempt from active service because of his health, Lawrence wrote The Rainbow and Women in Love. The former was seized and burned by the police for indecency in November 1915, two months after publication; Lawrence was unable to find a publisher for the latter until six years later. Composition of these two novels coincided with bouts of erratic behavior in Lawrence that bordered on mental instability, sexual confusion and experimentation that threatened to undermine his marriage, and endless health reversals, including a diagnosis of tuberculosis. Twilight in Italy, a collection of acerbic travel essays believed by some to show a sympathy for fascism that became more explicit in, for example, his novel The Plumed Serpent (1926), was published in 1916. He recorded the vicissitudes of his marriage in an autobiographical poem cycle, Look! We Have Come Through (1917). The Lawrences departed for Europe in late 1919 and spent most of the next two years in Italy and Germany. The Lost Girl, a novel, was published in 1920 and received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize the following year, which also saw the publication of Movements in European History, a text for schoolchildren; Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious, an anti-Freudian tract; Tortoises, a collection of poems; Sea and Sardinia, a travel book; and, belatedly, Women in Love. Early in 1922 he and Frieda went around the world by boat. They visited Ceylon, lived in Australia for a month and a half, and in the summer sailed to America, where they settled in New Mexico. Aaron's Rod, a novel; Fantasia of the Unconscious, a sequel to Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious; and England, My England, a collection of stories, were published that year. In the spring of 1923, after moving to Mexico, he and Frieda separated temporarily. He toured the western United States and briefly returned to Mexico; she moved to London. Kangaroo, his novel of Australia, and Birds, Beasts, and Flowers, a collection of poems, were published in the fall. He reunited with Frieda in the winter. They went to New Mexico again in the spring of 1924; he suffered bouts of influenza, malaria, and typhoid fever the next year. The Lawrences eventually resettled in Italy in 1926. He began writing his last novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover, in 1926. It was published two years later and banned in England and the United States as pornographic. Lawrence was an avid amateur painter, and a selection of his paintings - grossly rendered, full-figured representational nudes - was exhibited in London in 1929. The show was raided on July 5 by the police, who removed thirteen of the canvases. Lawrence coincidentally suffered a violent tubercular hemorrhage in Italy the same day. He went to Bavaria to undergo a cure - it was unsuccessful - and in 1930 entered a sanatorium in Vence, France, where treatment similarly failed. He died in a villa in Vence on the night of March 2, a half year short of his forty-fifth birthday, and was buried in a local cemetery. His body was eventually disinterred and cremated, and his ashes transported to Frieda Lawrence's ranch outside Taos, New Mexico. In addition to numerous plays, collections of poetry, and other, lesser-known works published during his lifetime, his novels The Virgin and the Gypsy and Mr. Noon were published posthumously.
 
Published November 1, 2000 by Modern Library. 416 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Biographies & Memoirs, Romance, Humor & Entertainment, History, Action & Adventure, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Crime, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Sons and Lovers
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average

Complexity of characterization, intensity of characters' confrontations, and sexual frankness are now, say the publishers, as the author intended them.

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Guardian

Excellent
on Jun 22 2002

Sons and Lovers stand out from the fiction of the day as an achievement of the first quality.

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The Independent

Above average

he full force of William's role as the foreshadower of Paul has been weakened until now by Garnett's unnegotiated and drastic cuts.

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London Review of Books

Above average

It exhales a prodigious, at times comically portentous, concentration upon the self, but none of that superiority which has become at once second nature, style and integument to the combative and cosmopolitan literary milieu of Lawrence’s novels.

Read Full Review of Sons and Lovers (Modern Libra...

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