The novel, paperback publication of which, arguably, was in part responsible for the social and sexual revolutions of the 1960s, is today perhaps more of sociological than literary significance. It is difficult to divorce one's response to the novel without Mervyn Griffith-Jones, QC's astonishing question to the jury in the 1960 Old Bailey prosecution of Penguin Books for obscenity ringing in your ears: 'Is this the kind of book you would wish your wife or servants to read?'.
However, it is essential to bear in mind that Lady Chatterley's Lover was written and first published (in Italy) in 1928 and so should be read with the First World War and the 1926 Miners' Lockout thundering in one's consciousness. The work is outstandingly modern and brave, and Lawrence's intentions serious and important. Not only are social and marital conventions questioned, but raised also - possibly for the first time in English literature - are issues related to childlessness and disability. Class and language are foremost concerns, with Mellors speaking his local dialect as well as introducing Old English-derived 'four-letter' words never uttered in 'polite' society, much less written down.
An assuredly moral and compassionate work, Lady Chatterley's Lover is a masterpiece of literary fiction, bowlderized and debased by what has been published in its wake. So much so, that the novel is victim to parody and mockery, bastardized by pulp 'romantic' and 'chicklit' scribblings.
Emilia Fox's reading is faultless - giving beautiful, serene and confident voice to Lawrence's poetic and idealistic vision of emotional fulfilment.
An audiobook classic.
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© 2009 AudioBooksReview