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The Rainbow

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Set in the rural Midlands of England, The Rainbow (1915) revolves around three generations of the Brangwens, a strong, vigorous family, deeply involved with the land. When Tom Brangwen marries a Polish widow,Lydia Lensky, and adopts her daughter Anna as his own, he is unprepared for the conflict and passion that erupts between them. All are seeking individual fulfilment, b Set in the rural Midlands of England, The Rainbow (1915) revolves around three generations of the Brangwens, a strong, vigorous family, deeply involved with the land. When Tom Brangwen marries a Polish widow,Lydia Lensky, and adopts her daughter Anna as his own, he is unprepared for the conflict and passion that erupts between them. All are seeking individual fulfilment, but it is Ursula, Anna's spirited daughter, who, in search for self-knowledge, rejects the conventional role of womanhood.


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Set in the rural Midlands of England, The Rainbow (1915) revolves around three generations of the Brangwens, a strong, vigorous family, deeply involved with the land. When Tom Brangwen marries a Polish widow,Lydia Lensky, and adopts her daughter Anna as his own, he is unprepared for the conflict and passion that erupts between them. All are seeking individual fulfilment, b Set in the rural Midlands of England, The Rainbow (1915) revolves around three generations of the Brangwens, a strong, vigorous family, deeply involved with the land. When Tom Brangwen marries a Polish widow,Lydia Lensky, and adopts her daughter Anna as his own, he is unprepared for the conflict and passion that erupts between them. All are seeking individual fulfilment, but it is Ursula, Anna's spirited daughter, who, in search for self-knowledge, rejects the conventional role of womanhood.

30 review for The Rainbow

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cecily

    This is a three-generation family saga, set in Nottinghamshire, starting in Victorian times and ending before fears of WW1 loomed. Except that it isn’t that: the brief Introduction summarises all the key characters, careers, couplings, births and deaths. Events are mere tools and waypoints, not the purpose or destination, because this is not primarily a story: it’s an experience of passions, clothed in elliptically floral, fiery, watery imagery, stained deep with Biblical themes. But these are n This is a three-generation family saga, set in Nottinghamshire, starting in Victorian times and ending before fears of WW1 loomed. Except that it isn’t that: the brief Introduction summarises all the key characters, careers, couplings, births and deaths. Events are mere tools and waypoints, not the purpose or destination, because this is not primarily a story: it’s an experience of passions, clothed in elliptically floral, fiery, watery imagery, stained deep with Biblical themes. But these are not conventionally Christian people: they seek and submit to the forces of nature, their physical desires, free of guilt and shame. They marvel at creation, and worship it and each other through the medium of their mingling, tingling flesh. A deep, true sacrament. (Yet when this was banned shortly after publication, it was on the grounds of obscenity, rather than blasphemy: lesbianism alluded to, though nowadays, any outrage comes from the fact that (view spoiler)[one is the teacher of the other (hide spoiler)] .) This is a profoundly sensual, sexual book, but it’s not at all explicit: the most intimate encounters are described in terms of flowers and flames, rather than human anatomy. I’m not one for florid language or euphemisms, but I was first seduced, then bewitched, and finally intoxicated by the surreal erotic lyricism that is often more poem than prose. Reading this was a total emotional immersion. I opened up to receive Lawrence's words: I burned in the fire, dusted the ashes from my lips, and drowned in the waters. Reliving it now, I melt and burn and dissolve and yearn all over again. I quiver and shiver, even as I wave and drown, licked in the flames of Lawrence’s passion. Lawrence’s Words I am too much in the thrall of this book to write more words of my own: • “Outside, the rain slanted by in fine, steely, mysterious haste, emerging out of the gulf of darkness.” • “The pure love came in sunbeams between them, when she was like a flower in the sun to him… feeling the radiance from the Almighty beat through him like a pulse, as he stood in the upright flame of praise, transmitting the pulse of Creation.” • “Then softly, oh softly, so softly… his lips touched her cheek, and she drifted through strands of heat and darkness.” • “His limbs, his body, took fire and beat up in flames. She clung to him, she cleaved to his body. The flames swept him, he held her in sinews of fire. If she would kiss him! He bent his mouth down. And her mouth, soft and moist, received him. He felt his veins burst with anguish of thankfulness, his heart was made with gratefulness, he could pour himself out upon her forever.” • Plum trees, “All glittering and snowy and delighted with the sunshine, in full bloom under a blue sky. They threw out their blossom, they flung it about under the blue heavens.” • “But to him, she was a flame that consumed him… till he existed only as an unconscious, dark transit of flame, deriving from her.” • "Now, ah now, she was swimming in the same water... The girl moved her limbs voluptuously, and swam by herself, deliciously, yet with a craving of unsatisfaction. She wanted to touch the other, to touch her, to feel her." • “She would… feel her blood running, feel herself lying open like a flower unsheathed in the sun, insistent and potent with demand.” • “She laid hold of him for her dreams.” • “He was the warm colouring to her dreams, he was the hot blood beating within them.” MORE quotes… I have saved many more quotes, grouped loosely by theme, HERE , along with a (very) few observations about the story, and the change of tone at the end. But that is not the review; this one is. Ursula's story (plus Gudrun's) is continued in Women in Love, which is remarkably different style - in some ways. See my review HERE . Image: Georgia O’Keeffe “Blue Flower” 1918, http://whitney.org/image_columns/0026...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Samadrita

    Nowhere else within the broad realm of literature have I come across such beauteous turns of phrase devoted to exploring the many dimensions of sexual desire. In fact, I cannot cease to wonder how Lawrence manages to convey the intensity and intimacy of a kiss and a caress so effectually without deploying any explicit terms. His men and women are often capricious creatures of instinct and restless, stubborn adherents of their inexorable self will which causes them to be in conflict - even if ten Nowhere else within the broad realm of literature have I come across such beauteous turns of phrase devoted to exploring the many dimensions of sexual desire. In fact, I cannot cease to wonder how Lawrence manages to convey the intensity and intimacy of a kiss and a caress so effectually without deploying any explicit terms. His men and women are often capricious creatures of instinct and restless, stubborn adherents of their inexorable self will which causes them to be in conflict - even if tenuously - with the world circumscribing them. And carnal love emerges as the only authentic religious force capable of exalting the unsatisfied, solitary halves to a state of spiritual communion and fulfillment. His pride was bolstered up, his blood ran once more in pride. But there was no core to him: as a distinct male he had no core. His triumphant, flaming, overweening heart of the intrinsic male would never beat again. He would be subject now, reciprocal, never the indomitable thing with a core of overweening, unabateable fire. She had abated that fire, she had broken him. Multigenerational family sagas usually employ some common thread that binds together the disparate story arcs and subplots - presumably some long suppressed odious family secret, the effect of the altering milieu on evolving family dynamics, the denuding influence of time on family fortunes. And yet Lawrence's account of the Brangwen family is refreshingly free of any such cliched thematic glue. Instead, the narrative sprawls across a wide swath of years, leisurely routing its way through the rituals of marriages, motherhood, and ambivalent father-daughter bonds to eventually usher us into Ursula Brangwen's vibrant inner world which serves as the site of a perennial dispute between indefatigable individualism and the urge to live up to societal expectations. Even though the sexual politics of Tom and Lydia and Will and Anna Brangwen's marriages are flayed open and dissected with a psychoanalytic precision, it is not until heroine Ursula steps into the embrace of nubile adolescence that I was able to determine a common running theme of an existential tussle between the sexes for supremacy and control. The men placed in her hands their own conscience, they said to her "Be my conscience-keeper, be the angel at the doorway guarding my outgoing and my incoming." And the woman fulfilled her trust, the men rested implicitly in her, receiving her praise or her blame with pleasure or with anger, rebeling and storming, but never for a moment really escaping in their own souls from her prerogative. That Lawrence chose to re-create the persisting friction between one's individuality and the need to fit into some generic pre-ordained role set aside for one by society from a predominantly female perspective is evident from the discernible narrative focus on wonderfully humanized female characters. It is the Brangwen women who shield their private inner lives from external interference with a zealous certitude, sometimes even at the expense of emotionally alienating their fathers and husbands. They are unafraid to seek personal sexual gratification both in and out of wedlock. Lydia's faltering attempts at making peace between an irreconcilable past and present, Anna Brangwen's pertinacious rejection of her husband's religiosity coupled with her unabashed celebration of her own fecundity and the bildungsroman-ish account of Ursula's first acquaintance with sexual love and adult responsibilities complement Tom and Will Brangwen's and Skrebensky's viewpoints to create a picture portraying the truth of men and women locked in a contest of self assertion. A battle in which either adversary is eventually conquered by a desire for spiritual consummation transcending the individual's need for validation. So it went on continually, the recurrence of love and conflict between them. One day it seemed as if everything was shattered, all life spoiled, ruined, desolate and laid waste. The next day it was all marvellous again, just marvellous. That I have refrained from giving this the full 5 stars can in part be attributed to the raw lushness of Lawrence's prose and excessive reliance on florid metaphors which often suffocated me, dulling my desire to continue reading. Besides Ursula and Gudrun's stories remain to be told in entirety. Only after Women in Love can I decide on a final comment on the Brangwen saga.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dolors

    “She turned, and saw a great white moon looking at her over the hill. And her breast opened to it, she was cleaved like a transparent jewel to its light. She stood filled with the moon, offering herself. Her two breasts opened to make way for it, her body opened wide like a quivering anemone, a soft, dilated invitation touched by the moon.” (268) Re-reading "The Rainbow" after so many years has been like a shattering force of nature. A rampant flood that has washed me anew, a piercing light tha “She turned, and saw a great white moon looking at her over the hill. And her breast opened to it, she was cleaved like a transparent jewel to its light. She stood filled with the moon, offering herself. Her two breasts opened to make way for it, her body opened wide like a quivering anemone, a soft, dilated invitation touched by the moon.” (268) Re-reading "The Rainbow" after so many years has been like a shattering force of nature. A rampant flood that has washed me anew, a piercing light that has blinded my eyes but stimulated my senses bringing back all the reasons that make of D.H. Lawrence one of my favorite writers of all times. His falling from grace within the literary circles in recent years led me to take this novel with wariness and apprehension, lest I would be obliged to dethrone one the literary idols of my teenage days. There was no need for fretting. I met Lawrence again, gasped trying to catch my breath in gulps of stupefaction and drowned in the blissful confusion of Lawrence's engulfing narrative, which was consistently censored during his time for its “obscene and blasphemous" approach to sexuality and for the inherent reproval of the institution of marriage in the corseted post-Victorian society. Setting the story in the span of three generations of the Brangwen family, Lawrence echoes the opposing rhythms of continuity and change of the rural world of Midlands in the 1840s towards the industrialization of the 20thC and projects the shifting social circumstances onto its characters, which co-exist in ceaseless conflict with their inner male and female groundings and the inexorable breach that separate individuals who instinctively crave for spiritual unity. The social ideal of marital union appears fractured in front of the sexual experience, which is given the dimension of religious mystery, whereas love surfaces as the “means” and not the “end” in itself to cross the bridge of strangeness between independent beings that will steer them towards the so much desired sacred consummation. It is in the second half of the novel where Ursula, the main protagonist and the third generation of the Brangwen women, epitomizes the combative terrain of human relationships in dark, fluid and almost metaphysical eroticism that transcends gender, class or any other categorization, setting the foundations for the sequel to this novel “Women in Love”. “Love is a dead idea to them. They don’t come to one and love one they come to an idea, and they say “You are my idea”, so they embrace themselves.” (288) Lawrence's prose is the result of a bewildering compendium of biblical allusions, pagan and natural imagery and a profound grasp of the synaptic connections that trigger desire, yearning and the irrepressible urge to abandon the safety of one's individuality to leap into the unknown abyss of another being, to lose grip of self-dominance in favor of frenzied carnal and spiritual lust and to withstand the tempestuous battle of wills inherent in any relationship. His writing is lyrical but not soothing and saturated with many ongoing contradictions that materialize in rhetorical repetitiousness, alliterations and dense passages reflecting the labyrinthine crevices of the human psyche, combining the realistic tradition, the classic mysticism and a modern diction assimilating the stream of consciousness technique. From the magnetic lure of the erect church to the pond trembling with the glitter of the full moon, Lawrence seduces and repels, exults and smothers, fuses and tears the reader’s soul apart with his dialectical opposites in constant generative antagonism. And so light upon darkness, fecundity upon death and gloom folded music upon silence draw a vivid, magnificent rainbow as a promise of universal rebirth, wherein love and death burn and melt leaving only the ashes of an indomitable passion. A passion for living.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    The Rainbow was published in 1915 and was the prequel to Women in Love (1920). It is set in rural England in the early 20th century, and is the story of three generations of the Brangwen family. It deals with themes like love, relationships, family, homosexuality, social mores, religious rebellion, just to name a few. It was originally banned in England for it's frank portrayals of sex in nontraditional manners, something that Lawrence would encounter throughout his career. I read Women in Love f The Rainbow was published in 1915 and was the prequel to Women in Love (1920). It is set in rural England in the early 20th century, and is the story of three generations of the Brangwen family. It deals with themes like love, relationships, family, homosexuality, social mores, religious rebellion, just to name a few. It was originally banned in England for it's frank portrayals of sex in nontraditional manners, something that Lawrence would encounter throughout his career. I read Women in Love first and became enthralled with the character of Ursula, and I think this enhanced my enjoyment of The Rainbow. The Brangwen family history starts in the mid 19th century with young Tom Brangwen. Tom falls in love with and marries a polish immigrant, Lydia, who already has a daughter, Anna, from a previous relationship. Anna is adopted by Tom and the story progresses through Anna's growth and her eventual marriage to Tom's nephew, Will Brangwen. The birth of Anna's and Will's daughter, Ursula, is when the novel really comes to life. Her vibrant personality and unique views of love, sexuality, and religion make her one of literatures most interesting characters. Some readers struggle with it, while some critics consider it a work of genius. Either way, you have to acknowledge the quality of Lawrence's writing. It's uniqueness puts it in a category of it's own and may be more appreciated today than it was a century ago.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Farty proto-fascist flapdoodle served up with a twist of hippy bollocks and garnished with enough of a patina of feminist sympathy for it to goosestep rapidly under some people's radar. Yes DH Lawrence could write. Somebody should have stopped him though.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    Roy G. Biv, the Birds and the Bees *4.4 stars* This D.H. Lawrence novel, published in 1915, was almost immediately banned as obscene and the first printing of over 1,000 copies were seized and burned. It was not available for purchase in Britain for the next 11 years. No doubt, this book treated sexual desire as candidly as most books theretofore published. While it is relatively mild by today's standards over a century out, it handled sensuality in a way that is true to life as a natural and spi Roy G. Biv, the Birds and the Bees *4.4 stars* This D.H. Lawrence novel, published in 1915, was almost immediately banned as obscene and the first printing of over 1,000 copies were seized and burned. It was not available for purchase in Britain for the next 11 years. No doubt, this book treated sexual desire as candidly as most books theretofore published. While it is relatively mild by today's standards over a century out, it handled sensuality in a way that is true to life as a natural and spiritual force in humans, the passion to consummate the desire for intimacy and the love of another. Frankly, this is one of the only literary novels that animated my appetite for affections, with passages such as: His body trembled as he held her. He loved her till he felt his heart and all his veins would burst and flood her with his hot, healing blood. He knew his blood would heal and restore her. ... His head felt so strange and blazed. Still he held her close, with trembling arms. His blood seemed very strong, enveloping her. And at last she began to draw near to him, she nestled to him. His limbs, his body, took fire and beat up in flames. She clung to him, she cleaved to his body. The flames swept him, he held her in sinews of fire. If she would kiss him! He bent his mouth down. And her mouth, soft and moist, received him. He felt his veins would burst with anguish of thankfulness, his heart was mad with gratefulness, he could pour himself out upon her for ever. When they came to themselves, the night was very dark. ... They lay still and warm and weak, like the new-born, together. And there was a silence almost of the unborn. Only his heart was weeping happily, after the pain. He did not understand, he had yielded, given way. There was no understanding. There could be only acquiescence and submission, and tremulous wonder of consummation. The focus is on three main characters: Tom Brangwen, Anna Brangwen (his Polish adopted daughter who married Tom's nephew, her first cousin by law, not blood) and Anna's daughter Ursula Brangwen. It spans about 65 years from the 1840s to 1905. Tom married a Polish refugee/widow named Lydia who had a 10-year-old daughter Anna. Tom (a farmer) and Lydia as well as Anna and Will (a wood craftsman) are happy enough to live in Nottinghamshire in the east Midlands of England. Yet, as time goes by, England becomes more industrialized and urbanized, and Ursula seeks an education to become a teacher. A little over half of the novel covers the first 2 generations, while the remainder focuses on Ursula and her passions. Ursula falls in love with Anton Skrebensky, a British soldier of Polish ancestry, but he is conscripted to go to Africa. She turned, and saw a great white moon looking at her over the hill. And her breast opened to it, she was cleaved like a transparent jewel to its light. She stood filled with the full moon, offering herself. Her two breasts opened to make way for it, her body opened wide like a quivering anemone, a soft, dilated invitation touched by the moon. After Anton's departure, Ursula has a sexual relationship with her female teacher which she breaks off long before Anton's return a few years on. Yet, things are not so clear with Anton. At the book's end, Urusula dreams of a rainbow towering over the Earth: "She saw in the rainbow the earth's new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven." The story of Ursula and her sister Gudrun continues in a sequel published in 1920 called "Women in Love," which I intend to read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Reread 3/11/17 I listened to The Rainbow read by Maureen O’Brien on audible and have come to like the story more on the second read. The publication of the book is quite an accomplishment in 1915 and met with controversy mostly about the discussion of sex, premarital sex, and lesbianism. It is nothing surprising today and could probably be played on network television with very little editing of the content. Today, the roles of women bring controversy to the reader but it must be remembered that Reread 3/11/17 I listened to The Rainbow read by Maureen O’Brien on audible and have come to like the story more on the second read. The publication of the book is quite an accomplishment in 1915 and met with controversy mostly about the discussion of sex, premarital sex, and lesbianism. It is nothing surprising today and could probably be played on network television with very little editing of the content. Today, the roles of women bring controversy to the reader but it must be remembered that the setting takes place over one hundred and thirty years ago. Much has changed since then, although teaching middle school remains much the same, and the reader needs to remember the period it was written in and the period written about. I am going to immediately pick up on Ursala's story in the sequel, Women in Love. ________________________________________________ The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence is perhaps one of his finest works.  Lawrence was born in 1885 the fourth son of a coal miner.  He was a sickly child and graduated teacher's training in Nottingham.  His writing created controversy and lead to some of his books and stories being banned.  Lawrence's most popular themes were the sexual and physiological life and the implications of class difference.  The Rainbow, published in 1915, covers the life of the Brangwen family from the 1840s through 1905.  The opening chapters set the theme.  The Brangwen farm was in a very rural setting and the building facing back into the land.  The main house looks out on the road.   It is a separation of the world inward looking and outward looking.  Industrialization of England brings change to the rather isolated family.  First, a canal is built across the farmland and although the family is compensated for the intrusion it divides the farm.  Next comes the railway not only crossing the farm but also bringing the noise smoke and whistles of a modern world to their simple life.  Tom the youngest son also discovers sex, with a pub prostitute, which defines a different role in his mind for women outside of mothers and sisters and later women he would meet.  He will eventually marry a widowed Polish refugee, Lydia.  The second section of the book deals with Lydia's daughter from her first marriage and Will, the son of one of Tom's brothers.  The happy marriage turns to one based on sex and fertility.  The oldest daughter, Ursula, is the main character in the third and final part of the book. Ursula provides the most famous part of the novel not only her life and lovers but also those who she meets.  Society still strict rules create a culture that manufactures appearances to hide desires.  Social restrictions, morality, industrialization, and colonialism all play a role in the book although it is primarily known for its sexual themes.  The book was prosecuted for obscenity in 1915 and was unavailable in England for eleven years.   This Dover edition contains only a brief note of the author and of the story.  For a classic book, however, little is needed in an introduction.  Lawrence, although a modernist, writes in a clear way.  The setting descriptions may be filled with small details and the characters filled with complex thoughts but the reading is easy to understand and the themes are nearly impossible to mix.  The Dover editions, as always, bring quality works and quality printing at a very fair cost.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    These were the precursors to having a book banned: 1. Talk about lesbian love 2. Mention love between cousins 3. Mention sex 4. Have independent-minded women, you know, those who didn't believe that they were put on this earth simply to procreate? Speaking of women and societal expectations, even in these modern times, some believe that a married woman is supposed to act according to a prescribed norm that is different than a married man (which way, I dare ask sometimes - is she not supposed to have These were the precursors to having a book banned: 1. Talk about lesbian love 2. Mention love between cousins 3. Mention sex 4. Have independent-minded women, you know, those who didn't believe that they were put on this earth simply to procreate? Speaking of women and societal expectations, even in these modern times, some believe that a married woman is supposed to act according to a prescribed norm that is different than a married man (which way, I dare ask sometimes - is she not supposed to have a voice; is she expected to be void of personality? Do tell.), and she is expected to have two or three kids at her hip. Oy. To Ursula, it was as if the world had opened its softest purest flower, its chicory flower, its meadow saffron. Give me a banned book any day, especially if it's from Lawrence. At the close of every year, Lawrence and I have had this affair going on. I snuggle up with his words to bring in the new year, and I'm enlightened by his feministic approach in literature, particularly given the century. I can't help it, I love men who view women as equals; in fact, I married such a man eight years ago and I'm proud to call him my best friend and partner. But anyway, on to other ramblings… Before this, there was Sons and Lovers, which is still my favorite, and Women in Love, which is part-philosophical in its approach to life and love. Out of the three, I would say this book, The Rainbow, has Lawrence's best prose style, so far. Don't take my word for it, however, because I'm still working my way through his works. I've read Lady Chatterley's Lover in snippets somewhere in undergrad or grad school, when you read a book and sometimes find yourself skimming the material just to get through the list, so that doesn't count. Now I'm reading for pleasure (most times not even bothering to include books I read for work on GR), sipping words like warm espresso on a cold spring morning, feeling the boldness of black print on my tongue as I read aloud. He was the sensual male seeking his pleasure, she was the female ready to take hers: but in her own way. A man could turn into a free lance: so then could a woman. She adhered as little as he to the moral world. The story traverses generations, starting with the Brangwens, a family of farmers. It's quite possible to dislike the women at first, because of characterization, but with reading patience, it's easy to see the portrait that Lawrence paints. Each husband (or lover) has some feeling of helplessness because he is with a woman who is independently driven, or psychologically unavailable. Until he gets to understand her or appreciate her individuality, there is the normal drama of the love affair or drunkenness. And then there is the moment they connect, both on a sexual and mental level, when their bond suddenly is so strong that even their children fight to penetrate it. He wanted to live unthinking, with her presence flickering upon him. Yes, I would say that seeing the story unfold through characterization is why I enjoyed this novel. It is a psychological journey of self discovery and of recovery from mental trauma. Even when the middle drags a bit and a few pages seem like they could have been edited to make characters sound less whiny, Ursula comes on board and she makes everything else seem trivial. Make no mistake, all this leads to Ursula. Ursula is a main character in Women in Love, so if you haven't read Lawrence, I would suggest reading this before reading Women. All this stir and seethe of lights and people was but the rim, the shores of a great inner darkness and void. She wanted very much to be on the seething, partially illuminated shore, for within her was the void reality of dark space.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Esdaile

    I cannot explain it myself but I feel and have always felt, DH Lawrence's novels to be enormously tedious. I have read them out of a sense of duty to Literature with a capital L and have always been pleased when the ride was over. It is not that I am unsympathetic to the man or his ideas. Quite the contrary. I met someone once who said that they intensely disliked what Lawrence was trying to say but admired Larence's novels as great literature. With me it is exactly the opposite. I strongly appr I cannot explain it myself but I feel and have always felt, DH Lawrence's novels to be enormously tedious. I have read them out of a sense of duty to Literature with a capital L and have always been pleased when the ride was over. It is not that I am unsympathetic to the man or his ideas. Quite the contrary. I met someone once who said that they intensely disliked what Lawrence was trying to say but admired Larence's novels as great literature. With me it is exactly the opposite. I strongly approve of what he is saying but am half bored half repelled by the way he is trying to say it. I find the Leavis "discovery" of DH Lawrence contrived. I think it is the earnestness and gravitas of the novels which I find wearying and uninspiring. I am simply uninterested beyond words in his generations and families and his grave pronuncments about their feelings and fates, but why, when I find, say, Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks", comparable as the history of a family, with "The Rainbow" enthralling? One answer may lie in the inherent purtianism of Lawrence's view of the world, yes puritanism, the smell of church, the ponderous finger wagging. Nevertheless, I award these two stars in sadness and envy rather than disagreement with those who award four or five.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    I first read D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow in Professor Peter Oppewal’s British and American Novels class when I was 19, and it was one of the books that led me to become an English major. It was a perfect book for someone my age, susceptible to both lush romanticism and some harsh social criticism. As I saw it, it focused on the young individual, longing to be free, versus the constraining, soul-killing society. "Self was a oneness with infinity"--Ursula And especially for me, it even featured a y I first read D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow in Professor Peter Oppewal’s British and American Novels class when I was 19, and it was one of the books that led me to become an English major. It was a perfect book for someone my age, susceptible to both lush romanticism and some harsh social criticism. As I saw it, it focused on the young individual, longing to be free, versus the constraining, soul-killing society. "Self was a oneness with infinity"--Ursula And especially for me, it even featured a young teacher, just as I had also decided to teach. I thought then and think now that this is one of the great novels, and quite possibly his best, but I will have to reread Sons and Lovers and Women in Love to make that determination with greater confidence. A 1915 publication, The Rainbow is a multi-generational historical saga set in the late nineteenth century featuring three generations of the Brangwen family, mainly focused on women struggling against (male) society. The first two sections are largely idyllic, passionate, lusty, working-class, nature-centric; in other words completely romantic, though the Church comes in for some criticism. The third section ramps up the social critique with the advent of the industrial revolution, which threatens to permanently mar the Edenic England Lawrence (and his women, especially) loved. Images of gaunt and nearly emaciated colliers stand against the beauty of the countryside. In addition to the Church, other institutions such as schools and other workplaces are targeted for criticism as inhibiting the individual, the self, perhaps most symbolized by love (and/or sex): “Maggie said that love was the flower of life, and blossomed unexpectedly and without law, and must be plucked where it was found, and enjoyed for the brief hour of its duration.” All the Goodreads romance readers should read this book! Here’s a couple samples where Lawrence brings the heat: “His limbs, his body, took fire and beat up in flames. She clung to him, she cleaved to his body. The flames swept him, he held her in sinews of fire. If she would kiss him! He bent his mouth down. And her mouth, soft and moist, received him. He felt his veins burst with anguish of thankfulness, his heart was made with gratefulness, he could pour himself out upon her forever.” “She turned, and saw a great white moon looking at her over the hill. And her breast opened to it, she was cleaved like a transparent jewel to its light. She stood filled with the moon, offering herself. Her two breasts opened to make way for it, her body opened wide like a quivering anemone, a soft, dilated invitation touched by the moon.” The moon! The flames! After a Victorian age known for sexual repression, Lawrence in 1915 is unapologetically Dionysian; some words/themes that recur: The necessity for a spirituality/religion that embraces the body, sexuality, desire, instead of harshly renouncing it; Lawrence loves words such as fecund/fecundity, passion, ecstasy. Also soul. Instinct trumps reason and deliberation. Thought shapes society, but it also has the potential to undermine the growth of the self. The earthy working-class body! One can see how my generation—the sixies—fell in love with Lawrence’s call to go back to the garden, to liberate oneself from society’s strictures. So this may sound to you like a cliché, but I can assure you the rich writing of Lawrence in this book is powerful, beautifully written, sensual. It may seem now to be hopelessly optimistic in its modernist embrace of a future lovefest utopia that will somehow turn back the industrialist tide, but it is gloriously so. The Rainbow was banned in its time for its frank treatment of sexual love, and for years he was dismissed by the literary establishment as a more pornographer, but by today’s standards, he is almost tame (see Goodreads romance, JR Ward, and so on). He wrote novels of radical social reform, and most of the characterizations of women here are strong and independent, especially for the times. The novel is largely devoted to schoolteacher Ursula, in her struggle to find fulfilment for her passionate, spiritual and sensual nature against the confines of the increasingly materialist and conformist society around her. She struggles with the battle of the classroom, and the need—against her nature—to assert control over her students. One emotinaly fraught scene involves her actually caning one of her students. Has she joined the other side? Another memorable scene involves her encounter with wild horses who would seem to trample her. Ursula, whose story is continued in Women in Love. struggles with the conventional soldier Anton Skrebensky—the male-female romantic relationships usually involve epic battles in this book—but needs to be free, to forge her own self. "She saw in the rainbow the earth's new architecture, the old brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of truth, fitting to the overarching heaven."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    D.H. Lawrence was one of the first who has begun to write openly about the awakening of sexual consciousness. “So they were together in a darkness, passionate, electric, for ever haunting the back of the common day, never in the light. In the light, he seemed to sleep, unknowing. Only she knew him when the darkness set him free, and he could see with his gold-glowing eyes his intention and his desires in the dark. Then she was in a spell, then she answered his harsh, penetrating call with a soft D.H. Lawrence was one of the first who has begun to write openly about the awakening of sexual consciousness. “So they were together in a darkness, passionate, electric, for ever haunting the back of the common day, never in the light. In the light, he seemed to sleep, unknowing. Only she knew him when the darkness set him free, and he could see with his gold-glowing eyes his intention and his desires in the dark. Then she was in a spell, then she answered his harsh, penetrating call with a soft leap of her soul, the darkness woke up, electric, bristling with an unknown, overwhelming insinuation. By now they knew each other; she was the daytime, the daylight, he was the shadow, put aside, but in the darkness potent with an overwhelming voluptuousness.” And he wrote about it very poetically and desire in his novels was turning into a life force, becoming a momentum of living… And desire was encompassed by nature and it turned into its center and became a focal point of creation. And those who are emotionally complete will reach a rainbow and it will belong to them.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cecily

    My actual review is here. It’s a brief, emotional response, rather than a traditional review. What follows below is just a collection of quotes, grouped loosely by theme, plus a (very) few comments about the change of tone at the end (not spoilers, as the events I’ve alluded to are made plain in the book’s Introduction). As 2014 crossed into 2015, I was reading Stoner for the first - and second - time. As 2015 crossed into 2016, I was reading Lawrence for the first time in so long it might have be My actual review is here. It’s a brief, emotional response, rather than a traditional review. What follows below is just a collection of quotes, grouped loosely by theme, plus a (very) few comments about the change of tone at the end (not spoilers, as the events I’ve alluded to are made plain in the book’s Introduction). As 2014 crossed into 2015, I was reading Stoner for the first - and second - time. As 2015 crossed into 2016, I was reading Lawrence for the first time in so long it might have been the first time. Utterly different, but equally, achingly, wonderful styles of writing. I had thought I liked disliked florid prose (as in The King of Elfland’s Daughter), preferring the sparse beauty of books like Stoner and Plainsong. I’m so glad the hypnotic yet arousing words of Lawrence widened my horizons. Here are some of my favourite lines: Nature as Nature The fecundity of the natural world is ever present in minds, in actions, and on the pages I held: plants and flowers, sky, water, earth, birds and bees, eyes and heads. • “Outside, the rain slanted by in fine, steely, mysterious haste, emerging out of the gulf of darkness.” • "Big holes were blown into the sky, the moonlight blew about. Sometimes a high moon, liquid-brilliant, scudded across a hollow space and took cover under electric, brown-iridescent cloud-edges. Then there was a blot of cloud, and shadow. Then somewhere in the night a radiance again, like a vapour. All the sky was teeming and tearing along, a vast disorder of flying shapes and darkness and ragged fumes of light and a great brown circling halo, then the terror of a moon running liquid-brilliant into the open for a moment, hurting the eyes before she plunged under cover of cloud again." • "Very strange was the constant glitter of the sea unsheathed in heaven, very warm and sweet the graveyard, in a nook of the hill catching sunshine and holding it as one holds a bee between the palms of the hands, when it is benumbed. Grey grass and lichens and a little church, and snowdrops among the coarse grass, and a cupful of incredibly warm sunshine." • Plum trees, “All glittering and snowy and delighted with the sunshine, in full bloom under a blue sky. They threw out their blossom, they flung it about under the blue heavens.” • “The sun was coming. There was a quivering, a powerful, terrifying swim of molten light. Then the molten source itself surged forth, revealing itself… Everything was newly washed into being in a flood of new, golden creation.” Nature as Sex • “She would… feel her blood running, feel herself lying open like a flower unsheathed in the sun, insistent and potent with demand.” • "She felt herself opening, unfolding, asking, as a flower opens in full request under the sun, as the beaks of tiny birds open flat, to receive, to receive... she was as new as a flower that unsheathes itself and stands always ready, waiting, receptive." • “Here she would open her female flower like a flame, in this dimness that was more passion than light.” • “Her body opened up like a quivering anemone, a soft, dilated invitation touched by the moon. She wanted the moon to fill into her, she wanted more, more communion with the moon, consummation.” • “It was as if the stars were lying with her and entering the unfathomable darkness of her womb, fathoming her at last. It was not him.” Sex as Sex Despite its reputation, you could read most of this to a small child or proverbial maiden aunt without them having any idea of the degree of sexual content. Even a passage like this, which is about as explicit as it ever gets, might escape notice, “From his body through her hands came the bitter-corrosive shock of his passion upon her” - at least until a couple of sentences later, when “she rose from her knees”. • “No love… only the maddening, sensuous lust for discovery and the insatiable, exorbitant gratification in the sensual beauties of her body.” • “He swayed in a voluptuous, lingering way, against her… to unfasten the buttons of her glove… The close-working, instinctive subtlety of his fingers upon her hand sent the young girl mad with voluptuous delight... Then his hand closed over hers, so firm, so close, as if the flesh knitted to one thing, his hand and hers.” • “The unimpressible hardness of his body, that was soft and smooth under her fingers, that came to her with such absolute service.” Flames, Fire, Ash • The first thing Will makes for Anna is a wooden butter stamp - of a phoenix. • “The flame leaped up him, under his skin. She wanted it, this new life from him, with him.” • “He burst into flame for her… to bury himself in the depths of her in an inexhaustible exploration.” • “His limbs, his body, took fire and beat up in flames. She clung to him, she cleaved to his body. The flames swept him, he held her in sinews of fire. If she would kiss him! He bent his mouth down. And her mouth, soft and moist, received him. He felt his veins burst with anguish of thankfulness, his heart was made with gratefulness, he could pour himself out upon her forever.” • “But to him, she was a flame that consumed him… till he existed only as an unconscious, dark transit of flame, deriving from her.” • After a fight that resulted in something precious being burned, “a new, fragile flame of love came out of the ashes of this last pain”. • “She was all lambent biting flames, he was a red fire glowing steadily.” • After an argument, “His mouth was full of ash, his soul furious”. • “She had the ash of disillusion gritting under her teeth… Always she was spitting out of her mouth the ash and grit of disillusion, of falsity.” • “The silk, slipping fierily on the hidden, yet revealed roundness and firmness of her body, her loins, seemed to run in him like fire, make his brains burn like brimstone. She liked it, the electric fire of the silk under his hands upon her limbs.” • “Like a flame it took hold of her limbs and body. In the first flaming hours of wonder, she did not know what she felt. She was as if tied to the stake. The flames were licking her and devouring her. But the flames were also good.” (Pregnancy) Touch For all that this book is written in metaphors, the overwhelming need to touch and be touched runs through it like a twitching tendon. • “Her blood seethed to anguish in her. She wanted to touch him now, only to touch him.” • "Now, ah now, she was swimming in the same water... The girl moved her limbs voluptuously, and swam by herself, deliciously, yet with a craving of unsatisfaction. She wanted to touch the other, to touch her, to feel her." • "But in the revelations of her body through contact with his body, was the ultimate beauty.” • “For her, he was the kernel of life, to touch him alone was bliss.” • “They walked on, hand in hand, along opposite horizons touching across the distance… two separate people.” • “All he wanted was to know through touch.” • “No love, no words, no kisses even, only the maddening perception of beauty consummate, absolute through touch. He wanted to touch her, to discover her, maddeningly he wanted to know her.” Tension of Opposites Every relationship, whether between parent and child, or between lovers, is portrayed with contrast and tension. Everyone, everything is pulled two ways: love/hate, attraction/revulsion, fire/water, close/distant, hot/cold, fire/ash, separate/joined. • “A hatred that was burningly close to love… a love that was keenly close to hatred.” • “She realised that he was a dark opposite to her, that they were opposites, not complements.” • “The connection between her and her father as ever stronger. Yet it was always straining to break.” • “She was afraid of him, repelled by him, and yet attracted… He detected in her a kinship with his own dark corruption.” Repetition As well as the repetition of certain imagery, especially floral and fiery, Lawrence achieves poetic, almost liturgical effects, by repeating words in close proximity. • “She sat amid illumination, illumination and luminous shadow all around her, her soul very bright.” • “His heat was not always to suffuse her, suffuse her, through her mind and her individuality, till she was of one heat with him, till she had not her own self apart… He seemed to lap her and suffuse her with his being, his hot life, till she did not know whether she were herself.” • “So softly, softly, with infinite caressiveness, he kissed her, and the whole of his being seemed to fondle her.” • “Then softly, oh softly, so softly… his lips touched her cheek, and she drifted through strands of heat and darkness.” • “She quivered, and quivered, like a tense thing that is struck… He kissed her and she quivered as if she were being destroyed, shattered… She was all dark, will-less, having only the receptive will.” Bible and Christianity The church plays an important part in some aspects of everyday life, but when beliefs are discussed, they are invariably unconventional, and often heretical. Will finds spirituality more in church architecture and music than faith itself. In discussing whether Jesus turning water to wine really happened, “In truth of fact it had not. But for his soul it had”. There is also some inappropriately intimate behaviour in a church. Yet when this book was banned, shortly after publication, it was for obscenity, not blasphemy. (Ah, the power of lesbianism to shock.) Far more prominent, are the analogies between carnality and transfiguration, creation, Eden, baptism, and sacrifice, as well as rainbows and fire. • The wedding night was “the time of his trial and his admittance, his Gethsemane and his Triumphal Entry.” • “Coming together… the baptism to another life… Everything was lost and everything was found… At last they had thrown open to doors, each to the other.” • Will spends ages carving Creation of Eve, “a small vivid, naked female shape, was issuing like a flame towards the hand of God”. When it is mocked, he burns it. • “All that mattered was that he should love her and she should love him and they should live kindled to one another, like the Lord in two burning bushes that were not consumed.” • “A married couple makes one Angel… When a man’s soul and a woman’s soul unites together - that makes an Angel… Bodies and souls, it’s the same.” • “The pure love came in sunbeams between them, when she was like a flower in the sun to him… feeling the radiance from the Almighty beat through him like a pulse, as he stood in the upright flame of praise, transmitting the pulse of Creation.” • Glorying in her environment, the mingling sounds of the natural and manmade world are Anna’s Magnificat. • “She was the ark and the rest of the world was his flood.” • “Sin was absolute and everlasting: wickedness and badness were temporary and relative… They wanted a sense of the eternal and immortal, not a list of rules for everyday conduct.” • “The children lived the year of Christianity… their hearts were born and came to fullness, suffered on the cross, gave up the ghost, and rose again… this rhythm of eternity in a ragged, inconsequential life.” • “She wanted Jesus to love her deliciously, take her sensuous offering, to give her sensuous response.” • “Suddenly lust seized her… she tempted him.” • “In religion there were the two great motives of fear and love.” • “She was in dread of the material world, and in dread of her own transfiguration.” • “Their final entry into the source of creation.” • “Her face was wet with tears, very bright, like a transfiguration in the refulgent light.” Rainbows • “Her father and her mother now met to the span of the heavens, and she, the child, was free to play in the space beneath, between.” • “Dawn and sunset were the feet of the rainbow that spanned the day, and she saw the hope and promise.” • “Her doors opened under the arch of the rainbow… She was a door and a threshold… through her another soul was coming… looking out, shading its eyes for the direction to take.” • The cathedral “spanned round with the rainbow, the jewelled gloom folded music upon silence, light upon darkness, fecundity upon death.” • “And the rainbow stood on the earth… She saw in the rainbow the earth’s new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven.” Women, Men, and the Ending Positive Women • Lydia “learned nursing as a mark of her emancipation”. • “He learned to submit to Anna… her Matriarchy.” • Ursula longed to be independent, and knew “she had always her price of ransom - her femaleness.” But first, she wants to try to conquer the man’s world of work. Her first pay packet makes her “independent… and an important member of the working community.” • “I believe there are many men… one might love… Passion can’t last. That is why passion is never happy.” • “Why should I not go on and love all the types I fancy?” (Although “her own dread, was she just promiscuous?”) • “She was not ashamed… She had taken him, they had been together.” Positive Men The men are actively involved as fathers (and as a step-father) and generally embrace women of independent mind and desires. There is visceral empathy for a wife in labour: “He and she, one flesh, out of which life must be put forth. The rent was not in his body, but it was of his body. On her the blows fell, but the quiver ran through him, to his last fibre. She must be torn asunder for life to come forth, yet still they were one flesh, and still, from further back, the life came out of him to her… their flesh was one rock from which the life gushed, out of her who was smitten and rent, from him who quivered and yielded.” Submit?! After all the empowered and empowering women, it comes to this: • “For what had a woman but to submit?” • “The child bound her to him... Could she not have a child of herself?” • “Who was she to have a man according to her own desire?” • “It was not for her to create, but to recognise a man created by God. The man should come from the Infinite and she should hail him.” Ugh! Other Quotes • “Queer little breaks of consciousness seemed to rise and burst like bubbles out of the depths of his stillness.” • “Relaxed against him, mingling into him.” • “As they lay close together, complete and beyond the touch of time or change, it was as if they were at the very centre of all the slow wheeling of space and the rapid agitation of life… for their moment they were at the heart of eternity, whilst time roared far off, forever far off, towards the rim.” • Awesome cathedral architecture, “On the brink of the unrevealed. He looked up to the lovely unfolding of the stone. He was to pass within to the perfect womb.” • “She laid hold of him for her dreams.” • “He was the warm colouring to her dreams, he was the hot blood beating within them.” • “She reached him her mouth and drank his full kiss, drank it fuller and fuller… filled as though she had drunk strong, glowing sunshine.” • A new teacher, facing a class, “She felt utterly non-existent… she stood before her class not knowing what to do… she was naked to them… They were a collective, inhuman thing.” • An experienced teacher “could keep order and inflict knowledge on a class with remarkable efficiency.” • A proposal is made “in the strange, coldly gleaming insinuating tone that chilled the sunshine into moonlight.” • “Time folded away and the echo of knowledge filled the timeless silence.” • “The religious virtue of knowledge was become a flunkey to the god of material success.” Bordering on Parody? Lawrence’s language will not be to everyone’s taste, and just occasionally I think he went too far, but I found such (few) instances amusing: • “Ah, the great range he would have opened up to her, the illimitable endless space for self-realisation and delight for ever.” • “‘What are you, you pale citizens?’ her face seemed to say… ‘you primeval darkness falsified to a social mechanism.” • “She saw the shiny knob of the rhubarb thrust upwards upon the thick red stem, thrust itself like a knob of flame through the soft soil.” Beauty in Ugliness Despite the occasional, maybe accidentally comical touch, Lawrence can describe ugliness in a way that implies a curious beauty. • “The streets were like visions of pure ugliness… Everything was amorphous, yet everything repeated itself endlessly… The place had the strange desolation of a ruin… The whole place was just unreal, just unreal… It was like some gruesome dream, some ugly, dead, amorphous mood become concrete… The place was a moment of chaos perpetuated, persisting, chaos fixed and rigid.” (A mining town.)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Wow! What can I say about D.H. Lawrence? I finished this book on the train from Montreal to New York and I think it left a greater impression upon me than my entire trip. The first chapter is tremendous. The next couple of hundred pages was difficult for me to read--a testiment to the impossibility of ever really connecting with someone you love. Lawrence is an amazing writer, despite the reputation. It was an interesting experience reading this after Women in Love and knowing what was in store Wow! What can I say about D.H. Lawrence? I finished this book on the train from Montreal to New York and I think it left a greater impression upon me than my entire trip. The first chapter is tremendous. The next couple of hundred pages was difficult for me to read--a testiment to the impossibility of ever really connecting with someone you love. Lawrence is an amazing writer, despite the reputation. It was an interesting experience reading this after Women in Love and knowing what was in store for Ursula, knowing her relationships in this book would end. Difficult but a great experience.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Rhys

    Lawrence is a tough read. One chews through the pages of his books - sometimes with vigour and often with bafflement. While he is hard to read, he is even harder to write about. Yet, despite the thick language and often threadbare plot, there is a sense of exhilaration in The Rainbow. Underneath all of the claustrophobic intensity are strands of genius and genuine food for thought. The language of The Rainbow is at once alien and alluring. To fully appreciate Lawrence I really think a reader must Lawrence is a tough read. One chews through the pages of his books - sometimes with vigour and often with bafflement. While he is hard to read, he is even harder to write about. Yet, despite the thick language and often threadbare plot, there is a sense of exhilaration in The Rainbow. Underneath all of the claustrophobic intensity are strands of genius and genuine food for thought. The language of The Rainbow is at once alien and alluring. To fully appreciate Lawrence I really think a reader must persevere and become accustomed to the rhythm and imagery of his prose. My own frustration at what can be perceived as tedious rambling almost led me to abandon it in disgust. The narrative only began to truly grip me after Ursula entered the story (which is about half way through the book). Prospective readers should be aware of this slow start. Once you have a grasp on it, his style washes over you like a rather profound and satisfying dream. Lawrence is juggling with a number of weighty themes here. At once he is lamenting the passing of an age, documenting the effects of societal change on modern man and grasping for a higher form of existence. The pervasive, creeping nausea of industrialisation and its repressive effects on the human soul seem to horrify Lawrence. Some could call him a seer. I'm rather certain contemporary society as of 2009 would fill him with dread and revulsion. Approach this one with patience.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Boz4pm

    The fecund fecundity of Lawrence's fecund verbosity is enough to drive anyone to distraction. Paragraphs upon paragraphs describing a sunrise (or was it a sunset? I forget) apparently is the moment two protagonists make love in a field. You need the notes to tell you that. So much for the man who wrote the infamous 'Lady Chatterly'. Almost as tedious a read as George Eliot.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    D.H. Lawrence writes in the naturalist style but with a sensuousness that is unique. His prose is superb and he writes of despair but with enough hope so his books are not depressing. I would describe his work in the Rainbow and elsewhere as somewhere between an Emile Zola and John Steinbeck. Lawrence may write with more symbolism and intimacy but perhaps with less of the storytelling genius of a Steinbeck or the compassion of a Zola. The Rainbow tells of several generations of the Brangwen famil D.H. Lawrence writes in the naturalist style but with a sensuousness that is unique. His prose is superb and he writes of despair but with enough hope so his books are not depressing. I would describe his work in the Rainbow and elsewhere as somewhere between an Emile Zola and John Steinbeck. Lawrence may write with more symbolism and intimacy but perhaps with less of the storytelling genius of a Steinbeck or the compassion of a Zola. The Rainbow tells of several generations of the Brangwen family living in Nottinghamshire. The stories are centered on the first male descendants and then on the female descendants. The Brangwen family of farmers achieved regional wealth and status through some fortuitous land purchases. Eventually the family wealth is diminished through some squandering and untimely deaths. The last generation is a middling class left to navigate in a harsh British social structure. This novel was banned in England in 1915 after its release. It has hard to fathom that descriptions of desire were a reason to ban a book. I think much of it had to do with the lesbian overtures. There is nothing in this book that would be controversial today. But this an historical aside. There are so many passages in this book that are beautifully and vividly constructed. Here are some typically good ones. In describing Alfred Brangwen’s dislike for his drafting apprenticeship. “He did it stubbornly, with anguish, crushing the bowels within him, adhering to his chosen lot whatever it should cost. And he came back into life set and rigid, a rare-spoken, almost surly man.” Or describing Anna and her mates. “Anna did not care much for other children. She domineered them, she treated them as if they were extremely young and incapable, to her they were little people, they were not her equals.” The Rainbow is a classic and it is a long read but I became heavily invested in each of the characters. The storytelling was compelling with heavy a spotlight on the women of the family and the barriers they were up against. Finally, I wonder if D.H. Lawrence had lived in a place and era other than late Victorian England, where the historical landscape was shall we say undramatic, would we have witnessed an even greater writer? Excellent book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elena Holmgren

    “Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity” -Shelley's "Adonais" The world, transfigured by Lawrence's work, here and in "Women in Love," appears as "a dome of many-coloured glass," only the "radiance" disappears from Eternity. The central epiphany that seems to structure Lawrence's work is the recognition of Eternity as a primordial womb of darkness containing all things. The world we experience is, then, a bubble of darkness on the surface of which play and “Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity” -Shelley's "Adonais" The world, transfigured by Lawrence's work, here and in "Women in Love," appears as "a dome of many-coloured glass," only the "radiance" disappears from Eternity. The central epiphany that seems to structure Lawrence's work is the recognition of Eternity as a primordial womb of darkness containing all things. The world we experience is, then, a bubble of darkness on the surface of which play and mingle many colours. That surface is our individual consciousness. And the moment is the only center of being, a "confluence of eternities." And Lawrence's labour of love here wants to persuade us that the moment is enough to satisfy all our spiritual aspirations, containing as it does the seeds of a great sufficiency, a consummation of our being in its encounter with its Other and to the generative darkness from which our individual consciousness springs. Lawrence has the peerless gift of bringing latent, inchoate dimensions of insight into light. His descriptions of the subtle undercurrents of events reveal some of the inarticulate, instinctive understandings that we ourselves live by, and that sustain us, without our knowing. Reading his descriptions of the subtle interchanges between characters, I get the deep pleasure of recognition, of encountering, in a more fully articulate form, aspects of things that I myself have encountered at times, but have learned to disregard. He has the unique gift of giving form to those intractable, pre-conceptual dimensions of our experience that scarcely seem to have any sense, meaning or form, and that we learn to brush aside as we go along, clinging, as we do, to the narrower regions of the pre-formed in our experience. Through Ursula, who is depicted as the only character to have attained a steady relation to the source of her own consciousness, the story brings home the way that the everyday, known world is like a small circle of light suspended against an infinitely fecund, inscrutable, terrible darkness: "This world in which she lived was like a circle lighted by a lamp. This lighted area, lit up by man's completest consciousness, she thought was all the world: that here all was disclosed for ever. Yet all the time, within the darkness she had been aware of points of light, like the eyes of wild beasts, gleaming, penetrating, vanishing. And her soul had acknowledged in a great heave of terror only the outer darkness. This inner circle of light in which she lived and moved, wherein the trains rushed and the factories ground out their machine-produce and the plants and the animals worked by the light of science and knowledge, suddenly it seemed like the area under an arc-lamp, wherein the moths and children played in the security of blinding light, not even knowing there was any darkness, because they stayed in the light." The work is a sustained invitation to set aside all fear and clinging to control, and to realize our relation to this larger-than-known world, on the level of primordial encounter, before the idea of individual self emerges. The story seeks to reveal the real relation characters bear to one another and to the events of their lives, a relation that extends beyond the limits of knowledge and language alike. All life is shown to be a struggle to find and maintain a position, against others, in a dynamic continuum of interchanges. Lawrence manages, encounter after encounter, to capture the colour and texture of the subtle forces that people exert on one another, for good and for ill, all the ways that their relations with one another either open them up to greater growth and blossoming life, or else seal them into forgetfulness, a pervasive sickness of the soul leading to premature death and corruption. Oftentimes, we see that words are but a veneer that conceals more than it reveals the depths of their lived intercourse with one another and with life. At times it seems words are a temporary reprieve in forgetfulness from the scalding intensity of fully-felt contact with life, which relentlessly pours forth through the too-small receptacles that we content ourselves to be. The characters that are most revelatory of being are those that, like Ursula, have an uncanny capacity for self-surrender to mystery. They learn to see the world with naked eyes and unguarded being. In reckless abandon, they regularly risk giving up their hold on themselves in self-surrender to what life brings, in order to gather themselves up and be more fully reborn. It is to the extent to which they dare this endlessly regenerative gamble with the unknown that they live. In this above all, I think, lies the peculiar, intoxicating charm of his narrative: it reveals the interior character of events, the inner force that gives them shape, in a way that no other author that I know of quite manages to. His descriptions of the clash of forces and influences that characters represent, and that come to define events, have an almost meditative function: they help us recognize the subtle, unspoken interactions that define our own moment-to-moment existences. Just as an example, look at his description of a dance: "There was a wonderful rocking of the darkness, slowly, a great, slow, swinging of the whole night, with the music playing lightly on the surface, making the strange, ecstatic, rippling on the surface of the dance, but underneath only one great flood heaving slowly backwards to the verge of oblivion, slowly forward to the other verge, the heart sweeping along each time, and tightening with anguish as the limit was reached, and the movement, at crises, turned and swept back." It is a beautiful image of a powerful intuition of life that is not so easily brought into awareness, the ground of our lives as this swaying, rocking darkness, its silent breathing and heaving shifting us about on the surface, moving us into ever different relations. Somehow it is the true life of us, even though we scarcely ever know it. We are impressed upon with the sense that, at the moments in which the meaning of their lives is most revealed to them, the characters, like the dancers in the night, do not themselves move, but rather are moved by the subtle, wordless heaving of the unknown darkness which supports their lives and carries them to their fates. The narrative makes us sensitive to the way that the surface movement of life always belies an underground transformation. The whole surface of the story gestures to this subterranean force, sometimes terrifying, at others, ecstatically liberating, which is the ground of all our relations. It is during a stormy night that the grandfather goes to secure his marriage with the woman he loves. It is also on a stormy night that, decades later, his drowned body is carried out by the flood waters beneath the very house that their love had established and nurtured all these years. The relation that we establish to this unknowable, unseeing force, represented by the flood that at times irrupts and overtakes all our calm, deliberate arrangements (and, as in the case of the grandfather, our lives), in the end is what defines the limits of who we come to be and of our capacity to relate to others and to life itself: "Self was a oneness with the infinite. To be oneself was a supreme, gleaming triumph of infinity." A self is just such a temporary confluence of eternities. It is to the extent that characters consciously acknowledge and deepen this unconscious relation to the primordial darkness from which they spring that they attain their realization. And it is to the extent that they give up themselves in the consummation of being that love brings that characters ultimately become fully real. The incompleteness of an individual self, as well as its capacity for consummation in a love rooted in an awareness of the impersonal darkness that is the source of things, Lawrence holds as the true seeds of religion. I would read this book as an aid to lingering meditation. Carefully read, by dwelling upon and really internalizing the descriptions, it can give us the tools that can extend the beam of awareness so as to encompass regions of our experience against which we are usually closed up. It can help us learn to call things by their right names as well as recognize the true value of the subtle, dynamic interchanges that define the texture of our lives. It helped me, at least, better discern the true character events from my past had revealed, but that I had entirely missed. The work has that subtle power to place the most seemingly mundane experiences in a universal context, revealing thereby the universal meanings of quotidian dynamics. And above all, it shows what it is to give a fuller response to life. The work loses a point for me because I cannot accept Lawrence's premise that the sexual life is the source of all our spiritual life. It seems like too heavy a burden of meaning to place on this biological drive. It rings false; it cannot be all that Lawrence wants it to be. Our entire generation is premised on perhaps just this error, and our living by Lawrence's lights on this matter doesn't seem to have led to any creative revolution, but rather to an impoverishment of our relations to one another, to the world, and to our own selves.

  18. 4 out of 5

    david

    This is the recipe for ‘The Rainbow.’ First take a pinch or two of Psychology and put it aside, on a large plate. Then, grate a sizeable piece of Philosophy into ramekins. Drizzle at least all of Humanity into a separate vessel. Now, take The Pathology of Existence, and slice it up into a mirepoix. Season it heavily with nebulousness. Finally, conflate all the above into one very big bowl and bake for at least ten hours. Peek inside and make sure the contents are dark, very dark. If so, remove t This is the recipe for ‘The Rainbow.’ First take a pinch or two of Psychology and put it aside, on a large plate. Then, grate a sizeable piece of Philosophy into ramekins. Drizzle at least all of Humanity into a separate vessel. Now, take The Pathology of Existence, and slice it up into a mirepoix. Season it heavily with nebulousness. Finally, conflate all the above into one very big bowl and bake for at least ten hours. Peek inside and make sure the contents are dark, very dark. If so, remove the bowl and place it onto something that can hold its weight and heat. Allow it to rest for a week to a year, give or take a month or two. Are you with me so far? Now, with the finished product we are going to serve it to our invited guests. We will call them, Readers. They will each have in front of them a huge plate, say the size of Macedonia. Presentation is always important, so you might wonder what this concoction might look like. Think of paella (the ingredients are often hidden), but not made in San Sebastian or Salamanca. Nope, this one was made by confused Karenians, north of Chang Mai, a rural Thai area, who are not necessarily known for their culinary talents, but can wear more necklaces at one time than any westerner can. Now, sneak behind a curtain and watch the Readers ingest it, for it will be served by a proper butler from Devonshire. The curtains should be fully opened upon a dreary and drizzly day, which should be no problem in England. And pretend you are DH Lawrence, just for fun. This is not a quick meal, but a degustacion, if you will, that goes on and on, each chapter with a specially selected insight. And guess what? You know the book ‘Women in Love’ that you loved, the one that you read first but should have read after ‘The Rainbow?’ Well sorry to inform you, censors and the like got in the way of its publication, but who knew that these two books were intended to be one? Deal with it. There are many other issues to consider here. Ostensibly, this is a novel of three generations of a family. What is it about? Everything. Mid-eighteen hundred and nothing is simple. There are tensions between family members, between men and women, between old and young, between heaven and earth, between G-d and His Existence, if He does exist. There are questions about our existence, if it has value or not, if love is definable or not, if employment is necessary or not, if societal, governmental, or religious maxims are of inherent use or not. And Lawrence always cooks up plenty of sensuality, but not for frisson sake but for all things that might come before, during and after it. Constant paroxysms require mega ibuprofen and I found myself pinching my arm, several times, just to make sure it hurt. You want it to hurt, because you are not quite sure about anything anymore. Somehow, the room you entered appears minimalist but it is crowded in erudition. It was a worthwhile experience for me. DH Lawrence is quite a writer. And to think that he wrote about issues that we are still grappling with today is quite a feat. He was way ahead of his time.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Renee M

    D. H. Lawrence bores me to tears. It's unfair, I know. He suffered a lot for his art. He contributed greatly to modern literature. He dabbled in taboos, such as women liking sex and not necessarily marriage. He wrote about same sex relationships. But he's just so darned redundant that I always want to hurl the book across the room before I fall into another Lawrence-induced-sleep-stupor. (Someone really needed to give the man a thesaurus. Honestly, I never want to see the word "fecund" again in D. H. Lawrence bores me to tears. It's unfair, I know. He suffered a lot for his art. He contributed greatly to modern literature. He dabbled in taboos, such as women liking sex and not necessarily marriage. He wrote about same sex relationships. But he's just so darned redundant that I always want to hurl the book across the room before I fall into another Lawrence-induced-sleep-stupor. (Someone really needed to give the man a thesaurus. Honestly, I never want to see the word "fecund" again in my lifetime.) BUT... I listened to the Librivox audio recording done by Tony Foster, who did a thoroughly outstanding job, making it possible for me to 1) finish the book, 2) appreciate what was good about the writing, 3) fall into a restful sleep with out damaging furniture via book trajectory. If you're going to go Lawrence, go audio.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Border Dweller)

    I sort of had the idea that I'd read The Rainbow during my culture-vulture phase as a student, so it was rather a pleasant surprise to realise I hadn't. I think D.H.Lawrence still has a status in the general public perception as a bit of a smut-monger; he is considered rather un-English in his liberal approach to sex and will forever be associated with the Lady Chatterley trial. I must say that the book covers and TV/film adaptations don't help! However there could never be anything more English I sort of had the idea that I'd read The Rainbow during my culture-vulture phase as a student, so it was rather a pleasant surprise to realise I hadn't. I think D.H.Lawrence still has a status in the general public perception as a bit of a smut-monger; he is considered rather un-English in his liberal approach to sex and will forever be associated with the Lady Chatterley trial. I must say that the book covers and TV/film adaptations don't help! However there could never be anything more English than The Rainbow. It captures the landscape, the culture, the people, the mores, the times... all in a bubble that is flexible enough reach across the seas and up to the sky yet at the same time to close itself in a small room with a young woman and her thoughts. The first chapter literally took my breath away. The constant, understated contrast between the vastness of the world and its possibilities with the constraints of the female characters' lives was sometimes felt like a hammerblow. The story unfolds organically, like a plant, yet never felt out of control. It's a book to ease into, comfortable yet challenging. Being for so much of the book inside the mind of the female characters was for me a strange though not unpleasant experience. Strange... I suspect because despite his great understanding of women, Lawrence is of course a man. I once shared a flat with someone transitioning from male to female and there was something about the book that reminded me of this. Strange also because the characters are very rooted in a different time and place to me. At the same time, the story seemed to underline the separateness of people's existences, and yet illustrate the points at which we meet, and how these points are experienced and rationalised. Reading this book was such a personal experience it was rather like having a relationship. Actually, it was rather like how I'd imagine it is to have an affair! I found it impossible not to engage emotionally with the characters and the silent-but-present author, and would sneak off to read a bit more whenever no-one was looking. And when I think about someone else reading the book I feel strangely jealous. But still I'd urge you to give it a go, and see what relationship you will have with this extrodinary work.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather S. Jones

    i love this book -- a seminal favorite! so organic initially in it's portrayal of people, the earth, and relationships and then there is this evolution of these creations as the generations pass -- new ideas, new freedom in their world, leading to stronger selves. i just love the thoughts on having children -- d.h. never had children and he's a man, nevertheless his insights into a woman's experience are so word perfect! here are some of my favorite snippets: first, a short one: "There was life o i love this book -- a seminal favorite! so organic initially in it's portrayal of people, the earth, and relationships and then there is this evolution of these creations as the generations pass -- new ideas, new freedom in their world, leading to stronger selves. i just love the thoughts on having children -- d.h. never had children and he's a man, nevertheless his insights into a woman's experience are so word perfect! here are some of my favorite snippets: first, a short one: "There was life outside the church. There was much that the church did not include. He thought of God, and of the whole blue rotunda of the day. That was something great and free. He thought of the ruins of the Grecian worship, and it seems, a temple was never perfectly a temple, till it was ruined and mixed up with the winds and the sky and the herbs" now, a long one -- though i could go on as he writes at great length and quite beautifully on womanhood and childbearing: "She forgot that she had watched the sun climb up and pass his way, a magnificent traveler surging forward. She forgot the moon had looked through a window of the high, dark night and nodded like a magic recognition, signaled her to follow. Sun and moon traveled on, and left her, passed her by, a rich woman enjoying her riches. She should go also. But she could not go when they called because she must stay at home now. With satisfaction she relinquished the adventure to the unknown. She was bearing her children. If she were not the wayfarer to the unknown, if she were arrived now, settled in her builded house, a rich woman, still her doors open under the arch of the rainbow, her threshold reflected the passing of the sun and moon, the great travelers, her house was full of the echo of journeying. She was a door and a threshold, she herself. Through her another soul was coming, to stand upon her as upon a threshold, looking out, shading its eyes for the direction to take."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Josefina Wagner

    En sevdigim eseri D.H. Lawrence'in. Zaten yazarla bu eserle tanistim ve tiryakisi olmamda bundan sonra baslar. Okudugum eserlerinden bazilarini oldukca begensemde bazilari biraz vasat kaldi ki yine de onlar bile okunulacak kitaplardan kesinlikle.Iki defa okumus olmama ragmen ilk firsatta tekrar okumak isterim.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Surprisingly evocative, sensistive and rich. I know more about D.H. Lawrence as a person and a thinker than I do his prose, but I've had this book kicking around forever and I decided to knock it down for good. I come to the text with all kinds of feminist apprehension. I've heard for years the critique that Lawrence is chauvinistic, sex-obsessed, mysoginistic and misanthropic and makes too much of a precious mysticism out of male-female relations, if not strictly abased in aw-shucks reverence Surprisingly evocative, sensistive and rich. I know more about D.H. Lawrence as a person and a thinker than I do his prose, but I've had this book kicking around forever and I decided to knock it down for good. I come to the text with all kinds of feminist apprehension. I've heard for years the critique that Lawrence is chauvinistic, sex-obsessed, mysoginistic and misanthropic and makes too much of a precious mysticism out of male-female relations, if not strictly abased in aw-shucks reverence for the 'feminine'. Ok, well, fair enough I suppose. I haven't really read him, gone through about half of Lady Chatterly, the tract that it is, the fun little pean to the erotic wonder of creation, etc. I'm not necessarily condoning either Lawrence's view (which might be fairly close to my own private cosmos of beliefs, suspicions, apprehensions and superstitions we call a 'belief system') or those of the feminist or cultural critique. It seems like this might be one of those cases where one must (or ought to) strike a solid balance between opposing views and find the golden mean. *** 125 pages in or so I'm really caught up in it. I look forward to what happens next, even though I feel like I already know. Maybe I've lived it, maybe it's a story that's been told ad nauseam, maybe it's cliche, maybe it's my exposure to whitebread Christian culture. I'm wondering at this point whether or not the interest and narrative momentum will sustain itself for the next 400 or so pages. Bit daunting to say, but I guess we'll see... ...and he sustains it. After awhile, the stately King James-inflected tone starts to get a little grating and less-than-august, if you know what I mean. The male/female relations begin to veer towards the reductive, and believe me when I say I really don't like to talk like that very much, since I think that accusing things of being 'reductive' is sort of a vicious circle. But still. There's a definite sense that childbirth is essentially the raison d'etre for both man and woman (emphasis placed distinctly on the latter, no doubt) and that marriage is the telos for all courtship and union of souls, etc. I actually like this kind of thing, at least in a Platonic, prosy way. I do not, and what's more have NOT lived my life in such a way as to enact what I enjoy in reading as prodcuts of others' imaginations. I think it's a fine subject for a novel, though, and I love the way Lawrence writes about it. I've been feeling like I really ought to quote more of the actual texts in my reviews rather than overshadowing the text with (my own) interpretation. To wit: The Brangwens had lived for generations on the Marsh Farm, in the meadows where the Erewash twisted sluggishly through alder trees, separating Derbyshire from Nottinghamshire. Two miles away, a church-tower stood on a hill, the houses of the little country town climbing assiduously up to it. Whenever one of the Brangwens in the fields lifted his head from his work, he saw the church-tower at Ilkeston in the empty sky. So that as he turned again to the horizontal land, he was aware of something standing above him and beyond him in the distance. There was a look in the eyes of the Brangwens as if they were expecting something unknown, about which they were eager. They had that air of readiness for what would come to them, a kind of surety, an expectancy, a look of an inheritor... She had some beliefs somewhere, never defined. She had been brought up a Roman Catholic. She had gone to the Church of England for protection. The outward form was a matter of indifference to her. Yet she had some fundamental religion. It was as if she worshipped God as a mystery, never seeking in the least to define what He was. And inside her, the subtle sense of the Great Absolute wherein she had her being was very strong. The English dogma never reached her: the language was too foreign. Through it all she felt the great Separator who held life in His hands, gleaming, imminent, terrible, the Great Mystery, immediate beyond all telling. She shone and gleamed to the Mystery, Whom she knew through all her senses, she glanced with strange, mystic superstitions that never found expression in the English language, never mounted to thought in English. But so she lived, within a potent, sensuous belief that included her family and contained her destiny. To this she had reduced her husband. He existed with her entirely indifferent to the general values of the world. Her very ways, the very mark of her eyebrows were symbols and indication to him. There, on the farm with her, he lived through a mystery of life and death and creation, strange, profound ecstasies and incommunicable satisfactions, of which the rest of the world knew nothing; which made the pair of them apart and respected in the English village, for they were also well-to-do... In the house, he served his wife and the little matriarchy. She loved him because he was the father of her children. And she always had a physical passion for him. So he gave up trying to have the spiritual superiority and control, or even her respect for his conscious or public life. He lived simply by her physical love for him. And he served the little matriarchy, nursing the child and helping with the housework, indifferent any more of his own dignity and importance. But his abandoning of claims, his living isolated upon his own interest, made him seem unreal, unimportant. Anna was not publicly proud of him. But very soon she learned to be indifferent to public life. He was not what is called a manly man: he did not drink or smoke or arrogate importance. But he was her man, and his very indifference to all claims of manliness set her supreme in her own world with him. Physically, she loved him and he satisfied her. He went alone and subsidiary always. At first it had irritated her, the outer world existed so little to him. Looking at him with outside eyes, she was inclined to sneer at him. But her sneer changed to a sort of respect. She respected him, that he could serve her so simply and completely. Above all, she loved to bear his children. She loved to be source of children. She could not understand him, his strange, dark rages and his devotion to the church. It was the church building he cared for; and yet his soul was passionate for something. He laboured cleaning the stonework, repairing the woodwork, restoring the organ, and making the singing as perfect as possible. To keep the church fabric and the church-ritual intact was his buisness; to have the intimate sacred building utterly in his own hands, and to make the form of service complete. There was a little bright anguish and tension on his face, and in his intent movements. He was like a lover who knows he is betrayed, but who still loves, whose love is only the more tense. The church was false, but he served it the more attentively. During the day, at his work in the office, he kept himself suspended. He did not exist. He worked automatically till it was time to go home. He loved with a hot heart the dark-haired little Ursula, and he waited for the child to come to consciousness. Now the mother monopolised the baby. But his heart waited in its darkness. His hour would come. In the long run, he learned to submit to Anna. She forced him to the spirit of her laws, whilst leaving him the letter of his own. She combated in him his devils. She suffered very much from his inexplicable and incalcuable dark rages, when a blackness filled him, and a black wind seemed to sweep out of existence everything that had to do with him. She could feel herself, everything, being annihilated by him. At first she fought him. at night, in this state, he would kneel down to say his prayers. She looked at his crouching figure. "Why are you kneeling there, pretending to pray?" she said harshly. "Do you think anybody can pray, when they are in the vile temper you are in?" He remained crouching by the bedside, motionless." I don't know if this (and the dozens of worthier examples I don't have on hand at the moment) is misogyny or the mirror to nature; whether it's true to the character's inner life and emotions or Lawrence's own neurotic projection; English rural social mores at around the turn of the century or a part of the essence of male/female interactions or all of this or none of it. I know it rang a kind of bell for me, and it resonated. The great books tell you what you already know- fair enough, but what if you don't already know it? Or if you already THINK you know it, but really isn't that just ideology at its purest, most insidious form? These are the kinds of questions I ask myself after reading and enjoying this story. I'd be mighty curious, dear reader, wherever you are, what you might think of all this, reader or Lawrence or no. It seems to me (and, happily, to many of the other readers here in GR-land) that all these possible blemishes are really beside the point. Lawrence is one talented writer and he tells an invigorating, absorbing tale with characters that really allow you to not only feel for them but to feel with them, as in alongside them. Some Swedish critic (I honestly can't remember his name, to my chagrin) once remarked that in the great dramas no one is 'wrong'. I love this quote, especially for the fact that it paradoxically embrace and rejects moralizing apporaches to literature. You have to judge a character and, most likely, an author- you just have to, to live is to judge whether you find yourself in the fictional world or walking down a city street. One appraises, relates, compares, prefers, rejects, and so on. Be this as it may, of course, easy strokes of moral approval and disapproval are very hard to come by, the more you know the details (two sides to every story, etc) and I think part of what makes fiction and fiction writing so grand is that it summons one's moral instincts while challenging and hopefully expanding them. I don't think this excersize in value judgments is necessary for great literature (otherwise all the world's prose would boil down to kindergarden posters and fortune cookies) but I do think it's one of the side effects of what great literature can do. Essentially, it's about consciousness. Seeing the world through new eyes, in new ways, learning history and geogrpahy and class and erotics and politics and family and nature and colour and music and every damn thing. We are given access to a fragment of the consciousness of another by just picking up the book and hopefully we can engage with some fictional minds after we start digging in. It's by no means guaranteed, but I think human nature is sufficiently decent enough to involve some moral evolution while it's at it, no? So anyway that's a long way of saying that I really did feel close to this book and that Lawrence's Biblical, all-pervading (but not all-seeing, necessarily, there are quite a few moments where there's no character interiority when we might really want there to be), ancient, wise voice sounded a lot like the din in my head, in certain moods. I have been in some of the same emotional terrain as Tom and Anna and Will and Ursula and the gentle stab of recognition was most welcome. I think Lawrence is describing the symptom rather than spreading the disease, socially speaking. He wants his characters to be whole, to be loved, to feel the presence of another in a physical form that will translate to an intuitive, spiritual one. His language is authoritatively even, somewhat staid at points, approaching febrile at others, but he pulls off a certain deep grandeur that really is his own and is an accomplishment all his own. His confused, elemental men are not given much of an education or emotional vocabulary. But they feel it, feel too much, nevertheless...just because you can't articulate something doesn't mean it isn't there. It just means it's not actionable, not part of the rough pragmatism of everyday life. His male characters sense more than they let on either to themselves or to their lovers and they writhe in anger and frustration when they come to the limits of what they've been taught to take for reality for years. The women are a lot stronger than I had expected, having heard bad things about Lawrence's grasp (or lack thereof) of the female psyche. They have been taught to be submissive, marriage material, and of course rural English society wasn't exactly welcoming to alternate modes of liberation and exploration. Once the decorousness starts to drop, though, look out- these are some tough, skeptical, probing, self-sufficient people. It's interesting and important to notice how the women are the practical, social ones and the men are the solipsistic loners. It's the women who have the social, practical, emotional intelligence that the men, honest as they are and philosophical as they are, seem to sense (bless their little hearts) but under the pressure of which they ultimately seem to crack and keep cracking. I've noticed this many times in my own life and I've got to say it was really refreshing to see Lawrence emphasize it as he does here. I think the respect for women is palpable, if perhaps not feministic. He does seem to feel that men have a kind of grandeur that sets them apart from the world at large. I appreciate this, I see the point, but I think that's more about an interaction with the world as it is than what happens when a fellow withdraws and begins to ruminate on his own. It ought to go without saying that Lawrence is, unless there's somebody else out there whom I'm missing, the unmatched poet of the metabolizing prospects of eros. No one gets as much out of a furtive kiss in a windstorm or on a quiet night under the stars than he does. Some of your greatest moments, dear reader, happen like this. Never forget them, whatever you do. All in all, I'd like to give this book 5 stars but I don't think I can. If I'd have come across it years ago, when I was more invested in the kind of Weltanschaung Lawrence is building here, I'd have been utterly swept off my feet. Those days, and that way of thinking, is somehow, someway, somewhat alien from me now. I'm older, a bit saltier, perhaps I'm changing or just decaying or maybe it's growth, I don't know, but the kind of experience Lawrence is talking about is less of a greenhouse for me and more the feeling of watching flowers grow behind a steamed glass. This book probably would have turned the axis of my world a few years ago but, life being the random sparkling of isolate flecks that it is, this ship passed by its perfect harbor. Oh well, no great loss- I didn't know what I was missing, and how could I? I have come more and more to see that I have to find newer models of being-in-the-world. The old motors don't run quite as much anymore, or at least as far. This book reminded me not so much of what is lost, but of what was, and I would like to think that coming to terms with it may contribute mightily to what will come. O yeah, I forgot. Here's James Wood saying pretty much exactly what I wanted to write here and then forced me to go a different direction: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/... *** Looking this review over and thinking about the novel some more, I am warmed by the review I wrote not being as utter gobbledygook as I'd worried it was, at least to me. This book really did reasonate with me in intimate, personal ways (Lawrence, I'm sure, would have had it no other way) and in more objective, lit-crit-analytic ways. At four stars it stays, but I'm adding it to my favorites. A little piece of the personal canon: worthy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Working-Class Fiction: "The Rainbow" by D. H. Lawrence (Original Review, 2002-06-08) Lawrence is "uneven," but of the four novels I've read by him, "The Rainbow" is the best. I read "Sons and Lovers" at the British Council. I loved it at 15, but loved it far less 2 years later. I liked "Lady Chatterley's Lover" more than I thought I would, but that maybe because of all the scorn I'd heard poured on it before I read the book. I read "The If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Working-Class Fiction: "The Rainbow" by D. H. Lawrence (Original Review, 2002-06-08) Lawrence is "uneven," but of the four novels I've read by him, "The Rainbow" is the best. I read "Sons and Lovers" at the British Council. I loved it at 15, but loved it far less 2 years later. I liked "Lady Chatterley's Lover" more than I thought I would, but that maybe because of all the scorn I'd heard poured on it before I read the book. I read "The Rainbow" before I read "Women in Love", and found the first of the diptych far superior to the second. Women in Love often seemed to me to read like Lawrence at his overblown, blood flowing, loin thrusting worst.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This is a novel, and a reading experience, unlike any other. While the novel may be a bit sprawling and unclear in its arc, in its lyrical prose and its gripping emotionality, it is unparalleled. Lawrence tells the tale of one family, across three generations. Lawrence's usual backdrop of the power and soul-rending ugliness of industrialized England is present, as is a natural sense of class culture and English identity. Yet all of this fades to the background as the smooth rhythm of Lawrence's This is a novel, and a reading experience, unlike any other. While the novel may be a bit sprawling and unclear in its arc, in its lyrical prose and its gripping emotionality, it is unparalleled. Lawrence tells the tale of one family, across three generations. Lawrence's usual backdrop of the power and soul-rending ugliness of industrialized England is present, as is a natural sense of class culture and English identity. Yet all of this fades to the background as the smooth rhythm of Lawrence's language glides along through the family's tale. Lawrence manages to reach inside each character and find that person's emotional voice - this is not a work of intellectualism, it is one of raw emotionality, in all of its complexity. His narration realizes that people often have contradicting emotions at the same time, may feel hate when compelled by someone they love and feel both simultaneously, and feel something entirely different the next day. He exposes the honesty of emotions and how we often act based on them, richly and complexly. This was not a book that I gorged myself on, that I read for hours on end and raced through. Like the prose itself, my progress was smooth, steady. In fact, I had no need to read any faster; the raw emotion of the narrative style stuck with me throughout the day every day while I was reading it, and stayed with me for months afterwards. It was a book I couldn't put down, not because I felt compelled to read the next sentence, but because the previous passage entered and stayed in me regardless of what I did. While this may not have the energy and anger, and well-structured story of Sons and Lovers, it has all of the passion and an even more gripping narration, and is a worthwhile read to anyone who can connect emotionally with what it is to be human.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    After all these years, I've finally read this thing. He's one of those over the top emotive gushers whose style uses at least 100 different words when 30 more average ones would do to say the same thing. But the literature majors love that, and him. He understands obsession, sexual desire, emotive averse reactions and lots of psychology spites of family. All of them feature large here in this family saga of 3 generations. I find this kind of prose so tedious that I can only do about 40 or 50 pages After all these years, I've finally read this thing. He's one of those over the top emotive gushers whose style uses at least 100 different words when 30 more average ones would do to say the same thing. But the literature majors love that, and him. He understands obsession, sexual desire, emotive averse reactions and lots of psychology spites of family. All of them feature large here in this family saga of 3 generations. I find this kind of prose so tedious that I can only do about 40 or 50 pages of it in one day. For 90% of the characters it is entirely and completely and eternally "all about me". What I feel, and what I want holds the core. Here in The Rainbow that is continually and visually attired in beauteous phrase , but it's prime.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    "He seemed to live with a strain upon himself, and occasionally came these dark, chaotic rages, the lust for destruction," Lawrence writes, half-way through this story. Then Lawrence brings a child, Ursula, into "consciousness" and this novel soars with hope to the heavens. "The Rainbow" is a real beauty in the world of literature.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    It's been decades since ive read anything by Lawrence and I'm not sure how I feel about his The Rainbow. I kept debating how I felt about his prose, at times I was astounded but the lushness of it but after a passage went on I began to feel like it was overwrought but the next sentence or paragraph I'd begin to hear the beauty again. And then there's the content of The Rainbow which could be described as dated but in many ways the issues of a woman's right to independence seems very relevant. I s It's been decades since ive read anything by Lawrence and I'm not sure how I feel about his The Rainbow. I kept debating how I felt about his prose, at times I was astounded but the lushness of it but after a passage went on I began to feel like it was overwrought but the next sentence or paragraph I'd begin to hear the beauty again. And then there's the content of The Rainbow which could be described as dated but in many ways the issues of a woman's right to independence seems very relevant. I suppose I need time to,let my thoughts and emotions settle and to read more of Lawrence's work. The Rainbow was definitely engaging and for at least that reason I'd rate it with three or four stars. Film at eleven.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    THE RAINBOW. (1915). D(David) H(Herbert) Lawrence. **. I remember that this was one of the assigned novels for my class in English Lit. back during my college days. I also remember skimming the last four-hundred pages or so. Now that I am much older and, supposedly, more mature and knowledgeable, I thought I’d give this book another go. So much for added maturity and knowledge. The urge to skim again was hard upon me, but I had a purpose! This is not a novel in the modern sense of the word. Toda THE RAINBOW. (1915). D(David) H(Herbert) Lawrence. **. I remember that this was one of the assigned novels for my class in English Lit. back during my college days. I also remember skimming the last four-hundred pages or so. Now that I am much older and, supposedly, more mature and knowledgeable, I thought I’d give this book another go. So much for added maturity and knowledge. The urge to skim again was hard upon me, but I had a purpose! This is not a novel in the modern sense of the word. Today it is classed as a psychological novel – which means that nothing happens. I remembered Pauline Kael’s rule about films: “If nothing happens in the first fifteen minutes, nothing is going to happen.” If anything, I’d class Lawrence’s novel as a family saga. He follows three generations of the Brangwen family, a family located in rural England – farming country until the advent of the Industrial Revolution, when canals and trains began crossing their property. The first in the line, starting the chronicle, is Tom Brangwen. He was the youngest son of the original family. He ended up marrying Lydia Lensky, a Polish lady with ideas of her own. They had several children that represented the second generation of the study. Lawrence likes to focus on women in his novels because he can then spout off his ideas on women’s liberation. In most cases, the men in his novels represent traditional values of society mainly because they lack the sensitivity to represent anything else. His society is controlled by men, and there isn’t an original idea among them. His women, though, seem to have time for nothing else except how a better world could be achieved. Anyway...of the many children Tom and Lydia have, the next focus is on Anna, their oldest daughter. She ultimately grows up – while thinking deep thoughts – and marries Will Lensky, a cousin. And so it goes. To say that nothing happens would be an overstatement. What Lawrence did was to populate his books with cardboard characters who were there to express his views through their particular thoughts. What he did manage to do to gain visibility among readers, however, was to spice up his action with lots of descriptive physical (sexual) activity, suitably masked by obfuscating language. If he were writing today, I’m sure that he would be doing so under a variety of pseudonyms -female, of course – churning out romance novels with lots of T & A thrown in – probably either underlined or in italics. I do recognize Lawrence’s contribution to the progress of English literature, but, frankly, I don’t enjoy reading his work. The fact that this novel came under fire when it was published and was declared obscene didn’t really help sales, but established him as an author to be noted for future work. All copies of this novel were siezed and destroyed, though copies were available in America. His next novel was published in 1920 – “Women in Love.” His original intent was to publish both of these novels together as one book, but that was not to be. The reason for the five-year gap between the two was because of his difficulty in finding a publisher for the second one after all the fracas about this one. Sales of “Women in Love” were excellent when it finally came out. I am not driven to read any more of Lawrence’s novels beyond those I have already read. I might try some of his short stories, but that’s about it. So much for age and maturity.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    The setting of this novel was the rural midlands of England sometime in the early 1900's (this was first published in 1915). It startles as D.H. Lawrence, through its characters, presented some bold, provocative ideas here about religion, lesbianism, pre-/extra-marital sex, the social classes and women's independence. He was far ahead of his time and this book, upon its publication, was suppressed. The story spanned three generations of the Brangwen family but the author opted to speak mostly thr The setting of this novel was the rural midlands of England sometime in the early 1900's (this was first published in 1915). It startles as D.H. Lawrence, through its characters, presented some bold, provocative ideas here about religion, lesbianism, pre-/extra-marital sex, the social classes and women's independence. He was far ahead of his time and this book, upon its publication, was suppressed. The story spanned three generations of the Brangwen family but the author opted to speak mostly through its principal female protagonists which was, for me, a marvelous display of virtuosity since it was as if the author was able to go deep inside the female psyche and knew how they think and feel. Scenes involving quarrels during periods of adjustments of newlyweds also show that he understood how men's minds work as well. In my review of the book "The Quest for Christa T." by Christa Wolf, I openly marvelled at how the writer managed to write about individual freedom at the time and at the place where repression reigned supreme (East Germany at the time of communist rule). Not expressly (so as not to provide justification for a complete ban of the work--at least the book was allowed reading in literary circles in East Germany), but through some magical play of words. "Stunts", the great novelist Jean Rhys would have called it. Here D.H. Lawrence was able to do the same (with the same partial success--the book was suppressed but at least was able to pass thru publication unlike his "Women in Love" which no publisher would touch). The lovers here could kiss, as the author freely described them kissing, lips to lips if you will, but he could not take the same liberty with regard to more intimate sexual acts which come after kissing. So like Christa Wolf, D.H. Lawrence had to resort to "stunts" to free his words. My favorite is the love scene between the second generation Brangwen couple, Anna and Will Brangwen, when they were still sweethearts. It was nighttime. The young, hotblooded lovers went out by themselves in a corn field. D.H. Lawrence could not write them having sex, but the genius could make them "put up some (corn) sheaves"! See how he did it: "Corn harvest came on. One evening they walked out through the farm buildings at nightfall. A large gold moon hung heavily to the grey horizon, trees hovered tall, standing back in the dusk, waiting. Anna and the young man went on noiselessly by the hedge, along where the farm-carts had made dark ruts in the grass. They came through a gate into a wide open field where still much light seemed to spread against their faces. In the under-shadow the sheaves lay on the ground where the reapers had left them, many sheaves like bodies prostrate in shadowy bulk; others were riding hazily in shocks, like ships in the haze of moonlight and of dusk, further off. "They did not want to turn back, yet whither were they to go, towards the moon? For they were separate, single. "'We will put up some sheaves,' said Anna. So they could remain there in the broad, open place. "They went across the stubble to where the long rows of up-reared shocks ended. Curiously populous that part of the field looked, where the shocks rode erect; the rest was open and prostrate. "The air was all hoary silver. She looked around her. Trees stood vaguely at their distance, as if waiting, like heralds, for the signal to approach. In this space of vague crystal her heart seemed like a bell ringing. She was afraid lest the sound should be heard. "'You take this row,' she said to the youth, and passing on, she stooped to the next row of lying sheaves, grasping her hands in the tresses of the oats, lifting the heavy corn in either hand, carrying it, as it hung heavily against her, to the cleared space, where she set the two sheaves sharply down, bringing them together with a faint, keen clash. Her two bulks stood leaning together. He was coming, walking shadowily with the gossamer dusk, carrying his two sheaves. She waited near by. He set his sheaves with a keen, faint clash, next to her sheaves. They rode unsteadily. He tangled the tresses of corn. It hissed like a fountain. He looked up and laugh. "Then she turned away towards the moon, which seemed glowingly to uncover her bosom every time she faced it. He went to the vague emptiness of the field opposite, dutifully. "They stooped, grasped the wet, soft hair of the corn, lifted the heavy bundles, and returned. She was always first. She set down her sheaves, making a pent house with those others. He was coming shadowy across the stubble, carrying his bundles. She turned away, hearing only the sharp hiss of his mingling corn. She walked between the moon and his shadowy figure. "She took her new two sheaves and walked towards him, as he rose from stooping over the earth. He was coming out of the near distance. She set down her sheaves to make a new stook. They were unsure. Her hands fluttered. Yet she broke away, and turned to the moon, which laid bare her bosom, so she felt as if her bosom were heaving and panting with moonlight. And he had to put up her two sheaves, which had fallen down. He worked in silence. The rhythm of the work carried him away again, as she was coming near. "They worked together, coming and going, in a rhythm, which carried their feet and their bodies in tune. She stooped, she lifted the burden of sheaves, she turned her face to the dimness where he was, and went with her burden over the stubble. She hesitated, set down her sheaves, there was a swish and hiss of mingling oats, he was drawing near, and she must turn again. And there was the flaring moon laying bare her bosom again, making her drift and ebb like a wave. "He worked steadily, engrossed, threading backwards and forwards like a shuttle across the strip of cleared stubble, weaving the long line of riding shocks, nearer and nearer to the shadowy trees, threading his sheaves with hers. "And always, she was gone before he came. As he came, she drew away, as he drew away, she came. Were they never to meet? Gradually a low, deep-sounding will in him vibrated to her, tried to set her in accord, tried to bring her gradually to him, to a meeting, till they should be together, till they should meet as the sheaves that swished together. "And the work went on. The moon grew brighter, clearer, the corn glistened. He bent over the prostrate bundles, there was a hiss as the sheaves felt the ground, a trailing of heavy bodies against him, a dazzle of moonlight on his eyes. And then he was setting the corn together at the stook. And she was coming near. "He waited for her, he fumbled at the stook. She came. But she stood back till he drew away. He saw her in shadow, a dark column, and spoke to her, and she answered. She saw the moonlight flash question on his face. But there was a space between them, and he went away, the work carried them, rhythmic. "Why was there always a space between them, why were they apart? Why, as she came up from under the moon, would she halt and stand off from him? Why was he held away from her? His will drummed persistently, darkly, it drowned everything else. "Into the rhythm of his work there came a pulse and a steadied purpose. He stopped, he lifted the weight, he heaved it towards her, setting it as in her, under the moonlight space. And he went back for more. Ever with increasing closeness he lifted the sheaves and swung striding to the centre with them, ever he drove her more nearly to the meeting, ever he did his share, and drew towards her, overtaking her. There was only the moving to and fro in the moonlight, engrossed, the swinging in the silence, that was marked only by the splash of sheaves, and silence, and a splash of sheaves. And ever the splash of his sheaves broke swifter, beating up to hers, and ever the splash of sheaves recurred monotonously, unchanging, and ever the splash of his sheaves beat nearer. "Till at last, they met at the shock, facing each other, sheaves in hand. And he was silvery with moonlight, with a moonlit, shadowy face that frightened her. She waited for him. "'Put yours down,' she said. "'No, it's your turn.' His voice was twanging and insistent. "She set her sheaves against the shock. He saw her hands glisten among the spray of grain. And he dropped his sheaves and he trembled as he took her in his arms. He had overtaken her, and it was his privilege, to kiss her. She was sweet and fresh with the night air, and sweet with the scent of grain. And the whole rhythm of him beat into his kisses, and still he pursued her, in his kisses, and still she was not quite overcome. He wondered over the moonlight on her nose! All the moonlight upon her, all the darkness within her! All the night in his arms, darkness and shine, he possessed of it all! All the night for him now, to unfold, to venture within, all the mystery to be entered, all the discovery to be made. "Trembling with keen triumph, his heart was white as a star as he drove his kisses nearer. "'My love!' she called, in a low voice, from afar. The low sound seemed to call to him from far off, under the moon, to him who was unaware. He stopped, quivered, and listened. "'My love,' came again the low, plaintive call, like a bird unseen in the night. "He was afraid. His heart quivered and broke. He was stopped. "'Anna,' he said, as if he answered her from a distance, unsure. "'My love.' "And he drew near, and she drew near. "'Anna,' he said, in wonder and birthpain of love. "'My love,' she said, her voice growing rapturous. And they kissed on the mouth, in rapture and surprise, long, real kisses. The kiss lasted, there among the moonlight. He kissed her again, and she kissed him. And again they were kissing together. Till something happened in him, he was strange. He wanted her. He wanted her exceedingly. She was something new. They stood there folded, suspended in the night. And his whole being quivered with surprise, as from a blow. He wanted her, and he wanted to tell her so. But the shock was too great to him. He had never realized before. He trembled with irritation and unusedness, he did not know what to do. He held her more gently, gently, much more gently. The conflict was gone by. And he was glad, and breathless, and almost in tears. But he knew he wanted her. Something fixed in him for ever. He was hers. And he was very glad and afraid. He did not know what to do, as they stood there in the open, moonlit field. He looked through her hair at the moon, which seemed to swim liquid-bright. "She sighed, and seemed to wake up, then she kissed him again. Then she loosened herself away from him and took his hand. It hurt him when she drew away from his breast. It hurt him with a chagrin. Why did she draw away from him? But she held his hand. "'I want to go home,' she said, looking at him in a way he could not understand. "He held close to her hand. He was dazed and he could not move, he did not know how to move. She drew him away. "He walked helplessly beside her, holding her hand. She went with bent head. Suddenly he said, as the simple solution stated itself to him: "'We'll get married, Anna.'" Now, if you think D.H. Lawrence can write like this only when there's a man and a woman at the scene, think again. As early as the fifth paragraph of this novel, when he was just describing the Brangwens and their land (the Marsh Farm), it felt already that the Brangwen family was having sex with nature: "They (the Brangwens) felt the rush of the sap in spring, they knew the wave which cannot halt, but every year throws forward the seed to begetting, and, falling back, leaves the young-born on the earth. They knew the intercourse between heaven and earth, sunshine drawn into the breast and bowels, the rain sucked up in the daytime, nakedness that comes under the wind in autumn, showing the birds' nests no longer worth hiding. Their life and interrelations were such; feeling the pulse and body of the soil, that opened to their furrow for the grain, and became smooth and supple after their ploughing, and clung to their feet with a weight that pulled like desire, lying hard and unresponsive when the crops were to be shorn away. The young corn waved and was silken, the luster slid along the limbs of the men who saw it. They took the udder of the cows, the cows yielded milk and pulse against the hands of the men, the pulse of the blood of the teats of the cows beat into the pulse of the hands of the men. They mounted their horses, and held life between the grip of their knees, they harnessed their horses at the wagon, and, with hand on the bridle-rings, drew the heaving of the horses after their will." But this can't be five stars. I feel there were several undeveloped characters and forgotten scenes (like when one of the male Brangwen was beginning to have an extra-marital affair with a girl he met in a movie; they had kissed and promised to meet again--did they?). So four stars only, but a strong four!

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