2010: 10. The Rainbow

“The Brangwens had lived for generations on the Marsh Farm, in the meadows where Erewash twisted sluggishly through alder trees, separating Derbyshire from Nottinghamshire.”

The Rainbow, D.H. Lawrence

   Oh, D.H. Lawrence.  What is there to say about you that I haven’t already said in my reviews of Women in Love and Sons and Lovers?  I can’t say I got much new out of The Rainbow - it’s more of the same - beautiful descriptive writing wrapped around psychologically tortured prose that grapples with the relationship between men and women, and the power dynamics between parents and children, and whether one can ever really have a true marriage and meeting of the minds, and who is destroying whom and blah blah.  And I get that it’s all very powerful and fraught, and I certainly get that Lawrence suffered, but, once again, I find the issues being grappled with to be so removed from modern life that it’s only of historic interest.  In that sense, Lawrence reminds me of James - except James is all repressed internal struggle, and Lawrence is all naked bathing by the shore and great roiling feelings.  But both writers are struggling to express human problems that don’t really seem to exist, at least in such a blatant way in modern, post-feminist movement, post-sexual revolution society (or in James’s sake, post-WWI, where notions of honor in society died in Flanders).  

     I will say that once I finished this novel, which tells the story of the Brangwen family over several generations, I was (very) briefly tempted to re-read Women in Love to remind myself how it turned out for the Brangwen girls.  But I couldn’t quite pull the trigger - you just can’t dip your toe in to Lawrence, or enjoy it as a casual re-read, and I was in no mood to wallow.

Date/Place Completed:  January 2010; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction, Modern Library Top 100

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017