Wednesday

Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928)


[Cover Image: Amedeo Modigliani]

D. H. Lawrence
Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928)




Extract:

Still panting with their exertions, each wrapped in an army blanket, but the front of the body open to the fire, they sat on a log side by side before the blaze, to get quiet. Connie hated the feel of the blanket against her skin. But now the sheet was all wet.

She dropped her blanket and kneeled on the clay hearth, holding her head to the fire, and shaking her hair to dry it. He watched the beautiful curving drop of her haunches. That fascinated him today. How it sloped with a rich down-slope to the heavy roundness of her buttocks! And in between, folded in the secret warmth, the secret entrances!

He stroked her tail with his hand, long and subtly taking in the curves and the globe-fullness.

'Tha's got such a nice tail on thee,' he said, in the throaty caressive dialect. 'Tha's got the nicest arse of anybody. It’s the nicest, nicest woman's arse as is! An' ivery bit of it is woman, woman sure as nuts. Tha'rt not one o' them button-arsed lasses as should be lads, are ter! Tha's got a real soft sloping bottom on thee, as a man loves in 'is guts. It's a bottom as could hold the world up, it is!"

All the while he spoke he exquisitely stroked the rounded tail, till it seemed as if a slippery sort of fire came from it into his hands. And his finger-tips touched the two secret openings to her body, time after time, with a soft little brush of fire.

'An' if tha shits an' if tha pisses, I'm glad. I don't want a woman as couldna shit nor piss.'

Connie could not help a sudden snort of astonished laughter, but he went on unmoved.

'Tha'rt real, tha art! Tha'rt real, even a bit of a bitch. Here tha shits an' here tha' pisses: an' I lay my hand on 'em both an' like thee for it. I like thee for it. Tha's got a proper, woman's arse, proud of itself. It's none ashamed of itself, this isna.'

He laid his hand close and firm over her secret places, in a kind of close greeting.

I like it,' he said. 'I like it! An' if I only lived ten minutes, an’ stroked thy arse an' got to know it, I should reckon I'd lived one life, see ter! Industrial system or not! Here's one o’ my lifetimes.'

She turned round and climbed into his lap, clinging to him. ‘Kiss me!’ she whispered.

And she knew the thought of their separation was latent in both their minds, and at last she was sad.

She sat on his thighs, her head against his breast, and her ivory-gleaming legs loosely apart, the fire glowing unequally upon them. Sitting with his head dropped, he looked at the folds of her body in the fire-glow, and at the fleece of soft brown hair that hung down to a point between her open thighs. He reached to the table behind, and took up her bunch of flowers, still so wet that drops of rain fell on to her.

‘Flowers stops out of doors all weathers,' he said. 'They have no houses.'

'Not even a hut!' she murmured.

With quiet fingers he threaded a few forget-me-not flowers in the fine brown fleece of the mound of Venus.

'There!' he said. 'There's forget-me-nots in the right place!'

She looked down at the milky odd little flowers among the brown maiden-hair at the lower tip of her body. 'Doesn't it look pretty!' she said.

'Pretty as life,' he replied.

And he stuck a pink campion-bud among the hair.

'There! That's me where you won't forget me! That's Moses in the bull-rushes.'

'You don't mind, do you, that I'm going away?' she asked wistfully, looking up into his face.

But his face was inscrutable, under the heavy brows. He kept it quite blank.

'You do as you wish,' he said.

And he spoke in good English.

'But I won't go if you don't wish it,' she said, clinging to him.

– D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover, 1928 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969): 232-33.


Online Text:

Wikisource edition (full text)




[John Thomas and Lady Janes. 1972 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973)]

Critical Responses:

"Is it the kind of book you would wish your wife or servants to read?" - Mervyn Griffith-Jones.

"John Thomas says good-night to Lady Jane, a little droopingly, but with a hopeful heart." - D. H. Lawrence.



L'Amant de Lady Chatterley (1955)
directed by Marc All├ęgret
screenplay by Marc All├ęgret & Gaston Bonheur
starring Danielle Darrieux, Erno Crisa & Leo Genn

Critical Responses:

"This book and movie caused a great sensation in 1959 because it was considered pornographic. The book was not allowed to be read and the movie was not allowed to be shown in America. Finally, after a highly publicized court battle, the courts allowed the book and the movie to appear on the grounds of "artistic merit" and everybody went to see the movie. The content, about a married woman who commits adultery, is so mild by today's standards that the book and movie are largely forgotten. However, it was because of the court precedent set by "Lady Chatterley's Lover" that we are allowed to see and read almost everything today." - Sam Sloan.



Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981)
directed by Just Jaeckin
screenplay by Marc Behm & Just Jaeckin
starring Sylvia Kristel, Shane Briant & Nicholas Clay

Critical Responses:

"From the makers of "Emmanuelle: The Joys Of A Woman"...not exactly D. H. Lawrence territory, is it? Still in all, this low-budget sexcapade has decent locales and very steamy leads (Sylvia Kristel and Nicholas Clay), neither of whom are shy about appearing in the buff. It is noteworthy that this is one of the few R-rated movies from this period to show the man undressed as well as the woman, and their sex in the forest has animal heat to it. But those looking for an adept cinematic translation of the famous novel will be embarrassed...and perhaps even slightly amused. The weakest link is the editing, which darts around leaving scenes unfinished, such as the finale (which is really just a bushel of footage posing as an ending). However, on a soft-core/harlequin level, "Lady Chatterly's Lover" isn't too bad." - Internet Movie Database.



Lady Chatterley (1993)
directed by Ken Russell
screenplay by Ken Russell
starring Joely Richardson, Sean Bean & James Wilby

Critical Responses:

"D. H. Lawerence wrote some of my favorite books of all time, including Lady Chatterley's Lover, so at first, I was afraid to watch these short little missives. I was not disappointed, however. It held true to quite a few aspects of the "Sir John Thomas and Lady Jane" version of the book than the original publication, but Lawerence never seemed to be quite satisfied and was always changing. Joely Richardson was a beautiful Lady Chatterley, and Sean Bean seemed the perfect Mellors. James Wilby was so convincing as Clifford that by the end of this movie, you just wanted that horrid wretch to be left alone, wallowing in his misery, because like everything else in his life, Constance was a possession, not a human being. This movie is a timeless treasure for anyone who loves the idea of being in love!" - Internet Movie Database

Quotes:

Lady Chatterley: It's never the obvious that happens, is it?

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Lady Chatterley: We want to make the world dance to our tune, that's all. But the world's got a tune of its own, much older than ours.

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Mellors: I want yer... through 'ere.


Lady Chatterley (2006)
directed by Pascale Ferran
screenplay by Roger Rohbot & Pascale Ferran
starring Marina Hands, Jean-Louis Coulloc'h & Hippolyte Girardot

Critical Responses:

"I didn't really expect too much from this movie and hearing the running time was just short of three hours, was fully prepared to leave after getting a flavour of it. How wrong I was, this is a very fine film and doesn't drag for a moment. It is beautiful, believable and nothing short of a wonderful sexy surprise. All the support acting is measured and helps provide a solid counterbalance for the central couple who gradually learn to let go their inhibitions and slide blissfully from lust to love. It is all very gradually done from Chatterley's first glimpse of the gamekeeper washing himself outside his hut and her consequent, and at the time seemingly over the top, need to sit to gather her senses, literally; to the powerful scene where she asks him to turn and display his erect penis and the wondrous scenes of the naked couple cavorting ecstatically in the pouring rain. All in all a fine mix of the wonders of nature, the manliness of the hand made, the power of sex and the need for love. The more overt political elements that Lawrence would probably have wanted put more to the fore are probably better dealt with here, kept more in the background. Brave film making, especially at a time when being so positive about 'sexual healing' seems so out of vogue." - Internet Movie Database


The Chatterley Affair (2006)
directed by James Hawes
screenplay by Andrew Davies
starring Rafe Spall, Louise Delamere & Mary Healey

Critical Responses:

"Interesting BBC4 drama, set in the 1960s about the true story of the court case deciding whether or not the infamous book Lady Chatterley's Lover should be banned or not. The trial itself still is the biggest and most famous obscenity trial in British history, so it's a little surprising it's taken this long for a feature-length drama to be made of it.

I've never actually read the book, and I think to fully appreciate it you really need to have read it, but I did see the Sean Bean and Joely Richardson adaptation a few years back so I knew the general plot. It was reasonably well acted. The scenes in court are apparently the exact words used in the trial, so you can't fault the screenplay there, but outside the courtroom the script could have done with a little bit of work.

Certainly not a masterpiece, but it's entertaining enough and worth watching if you get a chance." - Internet Movie Database.


[The First Lady Chatterley. 1944 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973)]

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