Hello my dear Bookworms! It’s still Banned Books Week, and we’re still celebrating! It’s a regular fiesta up here at Words for Worms. DH Lawrence published Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1928. It was banned by US Customs in 1929, Ireland in 1932, Poland in 1932, Australia in 1959, Japan in 1959, Canada in 1960, and China in 1987. Yowza. What’s the big deal?
Lady Chatterley’s Lover takes place shortly after World War I. Lady Chatterley’s husband has returned from the front gravely injured. He is confined to a wheelchair and unable to perform his (ahem) husbandly duties. Lady Chatterley is left in a bit of a pickle. She appreciates her husband for the rich intellectual life he provides her, but our Lady… There is no delicate way to say this. Lady Chatterley wants to get laid. Her husband can no longer help her out there. So… She starts up a steamy affair with their groundskeeper. Who also happens to be married, albeit estranged.
If you read this today it seems pretty tame, especially if you’ve been desensitized by Harlequin romance novels. It’s important to remember that this book was released in 1928. Women in the US hadn’t even had the right to vote for a full decade yet. Pornography has been around forever, but this wasn’t pornography. It was an intelligently written novel. It just so happened to contain explicit sex scenes. And it was brazen enough to discuss female orgasms. Frankly, it’s pretty frickin’ dirty for being so old.
Whilst all her womb was open and soft, and softly clamoring, like a sea-anemone under the tide, clamoring for him to come in again and make a fulfillment for her.
-DH Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover
That’s a far cry from some of the gems I’ve read in Harlequins. It’s so formal and fancy, it’s kind of hilarious. I mean, we’re talking about two people doing the nasty in the woods here, for heaven’s sake. If I ever try to compare my lady bits to a sea-anemone under the tide, please call my doctor. Especially if I start claiming my husband is having an affair with a mermaid. Clearly medications will need to be adjusted.
Sex is a topic that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Heck, I’m blushing as I write this. (Apparently I am a prude.) I hate to bring this up AGAIN since I’ve already discussed how I think it’s awful, BUT… 50 Shades of Grey is brand spanking (pun completely intended) new and people are either titillated or horrified by it. Even today, in an era of constant access to free internet porn, people are still scandalized by a dirty book. It makes you think- are times really all that different?