Monday, July 20, 2009

Negative. I am a meat popsicle.

Current book: Women In Love
Pages read: 368-460 (end)

Well, Ursula and Birkin join Gerald and Gudrun at Innsbruck, where they all stay in a snowy little hostel and converse with other travelers, artists, and young people. Eventually, Ursula tires of the place, specifically the unending and philosophically unforgiving snow (Don't ask me. Apparently snow is cold and eternal like the stars and makes one realize one's insignificance.), and she and Birkin leave Gudrun and Gerald there. The relationship between Gerald and Gudrun quickly sours; Gudrun demands Gerald love her, and he can't. She can't love him either, but she can't leave him until she establishes her independence by rejecting his love. Since he can't give it, they're at something of an impasse. They end up fighting horribly, and Gerald is moved to a murderous rage by Gudrun's demands upon him, but only puts his hands to her throat and doesn't actually strangle her. The whole scene takes place outside the hostel, and afterward he wanders off into the snow to clear his head and ends up freezing to death. Gudrun, who'd decided to leave him anyway, is unable to properly grieve, but Birkin and Ursula are quite upset. Birkin feels as though he's lost one kind of true love, which Ursula is hurt by and incapable of understanding.

I'm disappointed in the ending. There was a moment, 80 pages or so from the end, when I thought to myself, "Oh, god, I hope he doesn't kill anyone off," and then he went and did it. It was a transcendently realistic portrait of modern love, courtship, marriage, and the state of men and women in society, and then he had to go make it all ridiculously dramatic at the end. It doesn't make sense that Gerald would be moved to murderous rage - he simply would either have acquiesced and pretended to love her or he would have left her. Either ending would have made a clearer and more accurate statement about relationships and the pressures of society than stupid murder and freezing to death. Why do authors feel moved to do that kind of thing? Is it just to sell books? Is it the fashion of the period? What?

Anyway, overall, Lawrence said a huge amount about men, women, and relationships, especially the taboos and lusts that govern them, and painted a vivid portrait of the difficulties of philosophy and reality that surround them. The characters did a lot of philosophizing, but it was successful because young people often do that kind of thing, and the idealism rang true, if not always perfectly entertaining. Regardless of the ending, I'm deeply impressed by the nuance and bravery of the novel. I believe its place on the list is deserved.

There may be a delay before Brideshead Revisited because I'm still waiting for it from Interlibrary Loan.

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