Lecture 4

[C. H. Rolph, ed. The Trial of Lady Chatterley (1961)]

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


Anthology Texts:

History of the Ban:

Lady Chatterley's Lover was suppressed long before the case of Grove Press v. Cbristenberry went to trial in 1959. The decision was made to publish the novel in Italy in 1928, then to send copies to subscribers in England to avoid censors. Publishing in this way made it impossible for Lawrence to obtain an international copyright, so the author lost substantial money through the appearance of numerous pirated editions. The United States government had declared the novel obscene in 1929, and the post office ruled the novel barred from the mails. Travelers returning from Europe with copies of the novel faced having the book confiscated by United States Customs. Objections to the novel arose over both the explicit sexual description in the novel and the language used by the characters. As Charles Rembar, the lawyer who defended the novel in the 1959 trial, observed in his account of the case,

not only did the Lawrence novel devote more of its pages to the act of sex and deal with it in greater detail than anything ever before sold over the counter; it had language that had never been seen in a book openly circulated, except when used for tangential and occasional purposes, and not often then … Lady Chatterley's Lover presented the forbidden acts in forbidden detail, and described them in forbidden language.

In 1929, John Sumner, secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, alerted officials at the Boston Watch and Ward Society that bibliophile and former Yale librarian James A. DeLacey, now proprietor of Dunster House Bookshop, had ordered five copies of the novel. An agent went to the bookstore to purchase the book and, after repeated refusals, obtained a copy. The society then instituted legal proceedings against DeLacey and his clerk, Joseph Sullivan, who were found guilty on November 25, 1929, by Judge Arthur P. Stone in Cambridge district court. DeLacey was fined $800 and sentenced to four months in jail, and Sullivan was fined $200 and sentenced to two weeks in jail. The convictions were appealed, but, despite strong community support for the two men and attestations to their character, on December 20, 1929, Judge Frederick W. Fosdick upheld the lower court conviction. The case was then taken to the state supreme court.

A year later, the novel was the key element of the "Decency Debates" that raged in the United States Senate between Senator Bronson Cutting of New Mexico and Senator Reed Smoot of Utah. Cutting worked to modify the censorship laws while Smoot opposed reform ("Senator Smoot Smites Smut," read one newspaper headline). That same year, a Philadelphia prosecutor authorized a raid on a bookshop and the seizure of 300 books, among them Lady Chatterley's Lover, Fanny Hill and The Perfumed Garden, marking the beginning of an extensive campaign to eliminate the sale of "obscene literature" in that city. Also in 1930, the Massachusetts supreme court affirmed DeLacey's conviction, and he was sentenced to four months in jail.

In 1944, John Sumner, acting in the name of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, seized copies of The First Lady Chatterley, and the book remained on the blacklist of the National Organization of Decent Literature until 1953.

The novel had appeared in expurgated form over the 30 years since it had first appeared, but the Grove Press edition was the full edition with all of the "four-letter words" and sex scenes created by Lawrence. As soon as the novel was published by Grove, Postmaster General Christenberry issued an order to ban the novel from the mails. The publisher went to court and Grove Press Inc. v. Christenberry, 175 F. Supp. 488 (S.D.N.Y. 1959) was heard in federal district court by Judge Frederick van Pelt Bryan, who agreed with the publisher and lifted the ban. He stated in his opinion that the application of a rule of contemporary community standards to the case signals acceptance of the book throughout the country:

The broadening of freedom of expression and of the frankness with which sex and sex relations are dealt with at the present time require no discussion. In one best selling novel after another frank descriptions of the sex act and "four-letter'' words appear with frequency. These trends appear in all media of public expression, in the kind of language used and the subjects discussed in polite society, in pictures, advertisements and dress, and in other ways familiar to all. Much of what is now accepted would have shocked the community to the core a generation ago. Today such things are generally tolerated whether we approve or not.

I hold that at this stage in the development of our society, this major English novel does not exceed the outer limits of tolerance which the community as a whole gives to writing about sex and sex relations.

In Grove Press Inc. v. Christenberry, 276 F.2d 433 (2d Cir. 1960), the circuit court of appeals agreed with Judge Bryan’s decision.

In 1959, Postmaster General Summerfield made the decision to continue to suppress copies of Lady Chatterley's Lover from the mail, declaring that the book was filled with "filthy," "smutty," "degrading," "offensive" and "disgusting" words, as well as with descriptions of sexual acts. He claimed that such "filthy words and passages" outweighed any literary merit that the book might have.

In England in 1960, the director of public prosecutions brought a criminal action against Penguin Books, Ltd., when the publisher announced its intention to openly publish the first unexpurgated British edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover. The prosecutor, Senior Treasury Counsel Mervyn Griffith-Jones, asked jurors to test the obscenity of the book themselves by answering these two questions: "Is it a book that you would have lying around your house? Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?" The defense attorneys argued that the novel as a whole was not obscene, despite language and sexual content in various passages. Thirty-five defense experts stressed the literary merit of the work, and the jury deliberated for three days before acquitting Penguin Books of all charges. Kuh relates that when the House of Lords debated the trial that cleared the novel, with its sexual episodes between a lady and her gamekeeper, a peer who agreed with the decision was asked, "Would you want your wife to read it?" He replied, "I would not object to my wife reading it, but I don't know about my gamekeeper."

In 1965, the Indecent Publications Tribunal of New Zealand reviewed the paperback edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover to determine if it was indecent, despite an earlier decision that no action would be taken regarding the import or sale of the cloth-bound edition of the novel. At the time, the cloth-bound edition sold in New Zealand for 16 shillings and the paperback edition for 5 shillings. The tribunal acknowledged that the novel "is a seriously written work by an author who has an established place in the field of English literature" and that "the text of the story is in the case of each identical; there is no difference between the two editions save in regard to the preface of the one and the introduction of the other and the form of each respectively."

Nonetheless, tribunal members considered if the novel should be kept out of the hands of persons under 18 years of age, and the issue became the difference in cost between the cloth-bound and the paperback editions, the low price of the paperback making it easily available to minors. This consideration motivated dissent among the members of the tribunal, two of whom asserted that "the sale of the Penguin [paperback] edition should be restricted to persons of seventeen years or over .... They think it is a matter for regret that the free circulation of the hardcover edition should have prejudiced the issue, embarrassed the Tribunal and made it virtually impossible in a particularly clear instance to invoke the provisions of the statute." The other three tribunal members felt that, given the unrestricted circulation of the hardcover edition, "it would be futile to classify the paperback edition as indecent in the hands of juveniles.” Viewing any restrictive action against the paperback edition as futile, the majority view of the tribunal determined on April 7, 1965, that "the paperback edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover published by Penguin Books is not indecent within the meaning of the Indecent Publications Act of 1963."

– Nicholas J. Karolides, Margaret Bald & Dawn B. Sova, 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature (New York: Checkmark Books, 1999): 300-03.

Theories of Character (Critical & Psychological)

Extracts from Aristotle’s Poetics:

… one should not show worthy men passing from good fortune to bad. That does not arouse fear or pity but shocks our feelings.

Nor again wicked people passing from bad fortune to good. That is the most untragic of all, having none of the requisite qualities, since it does not satisfy our feelings or arouse pity or fear.

Nor again the passing of a thoroughly bad man from good fortune to bad fortune. Such a structure might satisfy our feelings but it arouses neither pity nor fear, the one being for the man who does not deserve his misfortune, and the other for the man who is like ourselves – pity for the undeserved misfortune, fear for the man like ourselves …

There remains then the mean between these. This is the sort of man who is not pre-eminently virtuous and just, and yet it is through no badness or villainy of his own that he falls into the fortune, but rather through some flaw in him … the change must be not to good fortune from bad but, on the contrary, from good to bad fortune, and it must not be due to villainy but to some great flaw in such a man as we have described ...

The Theory of the Humours:

BLOOD - Air (hot / moist) - SANGUINE:
amorous, happy, generous
YELLOW BILE - Fire (hot / dry) - CHOLERIC:
violent, vengeful
PHLEGM - Water (cold / moist) - PHLEGMATIC:
dull, pale, cowardly
BLACK BILE - Earth (cold / dry) - MELANCHOLIC:
gluttonous, lazy, sentimental

The Jungian Theory of Character:

Extravert or


Think out loud

Keep thoughts to yourself

Show energy and enthusiasm for activities

Watch first, then try task or activity

Easily distracted

Can ignore distractions

Attracted to action and activity

Like to spend time alone to get re-energized

Act before you think

Like to observe before trying things

Say things before thinking them through

Pause before answering new questions

Like variety and lots of action

Enjoy individual or small group activities

Think out loud while talking to others

Think ahead, then respond to others

Radical Behaviorism:

You're all familiar with Pavlov's experiments on salivating dogs. More to the point, perhaps, is the (so-called) Radical Behaviorism of the American B. F. Skinner (1904-1990). After a false start doing a degree in English literature and trying to become a writer, he went on to do a PhD in Psychology at Harvard.

His version of Behaviorism "radically rejected mediating constructs and the hypothetico-deductive method, instead offering a strongly inductive, data driven approach that has proven to be successful in dozens of areas from behavioral pharmacology to language therapy in the developmentally delayed." In this he might be seen as an heir to American Pragmatism, the philosophical movement headed by William James and Charles S. Peirce.

His views on teaching can be summarised as follows:
  1. People have a fear of failure
  2. There is a lack of directions
  3. There is also a lack of clarity in the direction
  4. Positive reinforcement is not used enough
  5. The task is not broken down into small enough steps

Skinner suggests that with all of the obstacles out of the way any age appropriate skill can be taught using his 5 principles:
  1. Have small steps
  2. Work from most simple to most complex tasks
  3. Repeat the directions as many times as possible
  4. Give immediate feedback
  5. Give positive reinforcement

For our purposes, though, the Skinner book which is of most importance is Walden Two (1948), a fictionalised account of a successful Utopian community in 1940s America.

This story has been much criticised (but also much read). There have even been a number of attempts to set up an actual community along the lines suggested by Skinner - none (as yet) successful, unfortunately.

[Lady Chatterley (2006)]

Workshop 4:
John Thomas and Lady Jane

We'll begin with the book report on Lady Chatterley's Lover, then move on to do the class exercise in pairs or small groups.

Exercise 4:
Comparing Connies

[Marina Hands (2006)]

[Joely Richardson (1995)]

[Sylvia Kristel (1981)]

[Harlee McBride (1976)]

[Danielle Darrieux (1955)]

  • Look at each picture carefully. List the items you see in it.
  • How do you react to those things? Write down some of those reactions.
  • Try grouping them together. Are there common factors?
  • Has there been a progression over time?

Next week:

Group 3: Book report on Tropic of Cancer due.

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