15 October, 2013

Another classic completed (again?)

It's a strange thing, but i have finished this without being reminded of the previous reading. I am certain i did read it, at Loretto, maybe for O Level, maybe not. But reading it i have not had the flash of recognition that i usually have at some point while rereading a book. Thus i have been forced to reconsider, have i read it? did i perhaps misremember, remember other pupils reading it? Who knows. Parts of it are familiar, but perhaps only in the sense that i am familiar with books which are a part of my cultural heritage, even if i haven't read them myself.

Without worrying further, i need to respond to the book itself, though, and decide how i felt about it and whether, which is more important that possible past events, i will read another Lawrence in the future. I have to own that, to my regret, i was not as impressed with the writing as i probably should have been. For one thing, Paul Morel, the Lawrence stand-in, is an unattractive character, tied to his mother’s apron-strings, either unable or not willing to make a decision for himself, and in the process he hurts at least two other people, the two women he is interested in but unwilling to make a commitment to.

Another point i found irritating (laughable, really, me, with no credit, being irritated by someone universally acknowledged to be one of the Giants of the Twentieth Century) is that for much of the plot, while not much is happening in the lives of the characters, Lawrence spends his time telling his readers what the interior life of the characters, Paul in particular, is; he does not show it, does not allow the readers to grow their own perceptions and understandings, but lays out in detail how Paul feels, why he reacts in a particular way. I cannot but help think that the better novel is one in which the character is revealed through action. I cannot say that i won't read Lawrence again; i have read some of his poetry before, and perhaps some of the travel writings also; but i can say that i am not inspired to rush out and find another to read immediately. Which reaction, given his stature, and the place of this novel in his canon, makes me question mine own critical ability.

No comments: