Friday, July 16, 2010

Women in Love - No longer initial thoughts

I thought I might save this gem for my final review, but I can't!

If you are a female, and had the following conversation with your (male) fiance:

“Must one just go as if one were alone in the world—the only creature in the world?'

'You've got me,' she said. 'Why should you NEED others? Why must you force people to agree with you? Why can't you be single by yourself, as you are always saying? You try to bully Gerald—as you tried to bully Hermione. You must learn to be alone. And it's so horrid of you. You've got me. And yet you want to force other people to love you as well. You do try to bully them to love you. And even then, you don't want their love.'

His face was full of real perplexity.

'Don't I?' he said. 'It's the problem I can't solve. I KNOW I want a perfect and complete relationship with you: and we've nearly got it—we really have. But beyond that. DO I want a real, ultimate relationship with Gerald? Do I want a final, almost extra-human relationship with him—a relationship in the ultimate of me and him—or don't I?'

Wouldn't your follow-up to that be something to the tune of, "Did you ever maybe consider that you're gay, and in love with Gerald?"

But of course not! Instead:

She looked at him for a long time, with strange bright eyes, but she did not answer.

What I cannot figure out in this novel is how much of this overtone was intended by Lawrence, and how much is only because I am viewing this through 21st century lenses? Did Lawrence intend that Gerald and Rupert have a "bromance" or did he want me to think that they are clearly bisexual or gay? Also, how much of this am I supposed to believe Ursula and Gundrun suspect or guess at? Am I to assume that Ursula is wondering about the nature of fiance's relationship with his best friend, or am I to assume that Ursula is wondering about the nature of her relationship with Rupert, and how much he is invested in it, if he keeps wondering about other people (male or not)? I'm finding it difficult to understand what Lawrence expects me to read between the lines.


The above fore-mentioned. said...

Hi Kristin,

Check out this link:

Re: Lawrence and homosexuality and homo-eroticism.

SocrMom78 said...

I really like your comment about viewing books through "21st century lenses". I have never really considered that as we read books that were written a century ago that things may have socially been so different back then that what we perceive now as weird or as a "bromance" (I love that!) was probably accepted.

Kristin said...

We have to take literature within its own context. A great example is a scene I just read from Durrell's Clea, part of the The Alexandria Quartet. One character, Keats (a male) just got in to Alexandria "from the desert" (the Egytian front in WWII) and is at someone's house taking a bath. The main narrator, Darley (another male) goes to visit him...and sits in the room while Keats finishes his bath. Now I don't know that I have ever met a male who would have been comfortable with one of his male friends to the extent that he would let him watch while he bathed. Maybe there are males today that would be ok with that, but I don't know any.

I think sometimes we unconsciously assume that a glbt community simply didn't exist prior to the 1960s (except perhaps Oscar Wilde), when that simply wasn't the case. I blame the brick wall that was the 1950s for that. It turned us back into puritans so that when we encounter Lawrence and others like him, we (I) often don't know how to take him.

It is difficult to understand what an author is intending if we don't have a contemporary cultural/ historical/ biographical perspective.

I think, also, that this is part of the reason why translated literature just isn't very important in the American landscape at the moment (with the recent exception of Bolano). This is a criticism that has been lobbed at America by the various prize committees. In this instance, we view everything through our "American/Anglo" lense, and we are so culturally illiterate and isolated as a nation (myself included) that we lack the proper perspective to truly get current world literature. Compare our own news casts to the BBC and you will see exactly what I mean.