Women in Love
Publication Date: February 1996
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Perhaps no other of the world’s great writers lived and wrote with the passionate intensity of D. H. Lawrence. And perhaps no other of his books so explores the mysteries between men and women–both sensual and intellectual–as Women in Love. Written in the years before and during World War I in a heat of great energy, and criticized for its exploration of human sexuality, the book is filled with symbolism and poetry–and is compulsively readable.
It opens with sisters Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, characters who also appeared in The Rainbow, discussing marriage, then walking through a haunting landscape ruined by coal mines, smoking factories, and sooty dwellings. Soon Gudrun will choose Gerald, the icily handsome mining industrialist, as her lover; Ursula will become involved with Birkin, a school inspector–and an erotic interweaving of souls and bodies begins. One couple will find love, the other death, in Lawrence’s lush, powerfully crafted fifth novel, one of his masterpieces and the work that may best convey his beliefs about sex, love, and humankind’s ongoing struggle between the forces of destruction and life.
Louis Menand, professor of English at Harvard University, is the author of The Metaphysical Club, which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in History. A longtime staff writer for The New Yorker, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.