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Like many of D.H. Lawrence's novels, The Rainbow explores an attempt to live a fulfilled life within the strict social and economic confines of the British class system. It tells the story of three generations of the Brangwen family: Tom, Anna, and Ursula each rail against the limitations imposed on their lives, with each generation finding more freedom as industrialisation creeps across England. The character of Ursula, who is seen again in Lawrence's Women in Love, was particularly controversial. Her tumultuous love affairs, including one same sex liaison, resulted in the novel being banned upon publication. When it was made available eleven years later, it was a commercial success despite continued objections about its perceived obscenity.

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9781927854389
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This one was okay. If you’re looking for a classic English novel there are a lot better ones to choose from. My main complaint is that there would be a whole section devoted to one generation, but once you moved onto the next section with the next generation there would hardly be any mention of the first set of characters. At one point there was mention of one of the characters from the first section, only to let you know that they had died two years prior. It seemed really abrupt, like Lawrence got sick of the characters he’d written about and wanted to focus on and introduce some new ones – reader be damned! I guess [Women in Love] is a sequel devoted to two of the younger Brangwens so I’ll be reading that at some point to what happens to them.more
I thought that the first half, describing the early life of Anna, was great. Through 'Anna Victorix', I would have said that this was one of the best books I had ever read. The writing was beautiful and very moving at times. The characters were very sympathetic and, in this book, that mattered greatly for me. The second half, which described the early life of Ursula was not as satisfying. There were wonderful scenes and some more beautiful writing, but the storyline seemed awkward and forced at times. At the end, Ursula carries much of the weight of communicating the author's view of industrial society, but she is so changable and relies so much of emotion that she is not a reliable, or maybe just not a convincing, voice by the end.more
The Rainbow tells the story of three generations of the Brangwen family, starting in 1840, and ending (roughly) near the time Lawrence wrote the book, 1915. Lawrence was very open in this novel about homosexuality, infidelity, and sex prior to marriage (on the beach no less); while he does not explicitly describe too much of this beyond kissing, groping, and allusions to what’s happening (e.g. abandoning “the moral position” and seeking “gratification pure and simple”… hmm the imagination turns…), all of this was shocking to readers of the day and the book was banned shortly after being published.One aspect of the novel is to show the similarities in the relationships between men and women over the generations, and to reveal them as having an undercurrent, a hidden struggle and battle beneath the surface. The more dominant aspect is to show the women characters becoming stronger and more assertive over time, and I wonder how much of the shock to readers came from Lawrence expressing the ideas that they could vote, gain independence through jobs in a “man’s world”, opt for a physical relationship with a man or a woman instead of marriage, and express chauvinism in the Bible (“It is impudence to say that Woman was made out of a Man’s body…when every man was born of woman. What impdudence men have, what arrogance!”). In the expression of their sexual needs over the generations, it’s an interesting progression, from “She never wanted to kiss him back. In her idea, the man kissed, and the woman examined in her soul the kisses she had received.” to “I’m not satisfied with you. Paul used to come to me and take me like a man does. You only leave me alone or take me like your cattle, quickly, to forget me again…” to open admiration for a man’s body, and the liberation of “She took off her clothes, and made him take off all his, and they ran over the smooth, moonless turf…”. The male characters struggle to keep up.Lawrence believed that sexual union was a gateway to connecting with the larger cosmos, and had eloped to Italy with Frieda, the wife of a friend. She was strong and passionate, and undoubtedly helped fuel the novel.I love Lawrence for his ability to create indelible images. Some examples of this are Anna not being able to control her laughter in the church while listening to her future husband Will singing, Will picking up a young girl and making moves on her in a dark area of the park before going home to passionate sex with his wife, Anna’s sinuous nude dancing while pregnant, Ursula and Ingrid kissing each other while skinny-dipping , and Ursula facing a class of 50-60 kids who become openly defiant to the point of throwing rocks at her in the street, until she canes the hell out of one of the worst offenders.Lawrence’s playfulness with words and his phrasing is clearly modern, though sometimes he is a little overwrought and repetitive. I may be ‘rounding up’ just a bit on the review score and your mileage may vary.Quotes:On desire:“He wished he had a hundred men’s energies, with which to enjoy her. He wished he were a cat, to lick her with a rough, grating, lascivious tongue. He wanted to wallow in her, bury himself in her flesh, cover himself over with her flesh.”On education:“What good was this place, this college? What good was Anglo-Saxon, when one only learned it in order to answer examination questions, in order that one should have a higher commercial value later on? She was sick with this long service at the inner commercial shrine. Yet what else was there? Was life all this, and this only? Everywhere, everything was debased to the same service. Everything went to produce vulgar things, to encumber material life.”On emotion in the moment:“As she sat looking out at the tender sea, with its lovely, swift glimmer, the sob rose in her breast, till she caught her lip suddenly under her teeth, and the tears were forcing themselves from her. And in her very sob, she laughed. Why did she cry? She did not want to cry. It was so beautiful that she laughed. It was so beautiful that she cried.”On religion:“They took religion and rid it of its dogmas, its falsehoods. Winifred humanised it all. Gradually it dawned upon Ursula that all the religion she knew was but a particular clothing to a human aspiration. The aspiration was the real thing – the clothing was a matter almost of national taste or need. The Greeks had a naked Apollo, the Christians a white-robed Christ, the Buddhists a royal prince, the Egyptians their Osiris. Religions were local and religion was universal. Christianity was a local branch. There was as yet no assimilation of local religions into universal religion.”On sex:“All the shameful things of the body revealed themselves to him now with a sort of sinister, tropical beauty. All the shameful, natural and unnatural acts of sensual voluptuousness which he and the woman partook of together, created together, they had their heavy beauty and their delight. Shame, what was it? It was part of extreme delight. It was that part of delight of which man is usually afraid. Why afraid? The secret, shameful things are most terribly beautiful.”more
Struggled through this til the end but really didn't enjoy it all. I prefer a non flowering style of writing and this was just too over the top for my liking.more
I'm only part way through this and I feel like somehow I'm getting a lot out of it, but with no need to read further. For once this isn't quite a criticism. The writing is what I'm enjoying - certain evocations are just beautiful. However it's starting to feel repetitive, the plot is devoid of any suspense. It's a real partial masterpiece for me but the bits that are good make it worth a go. Maybe I'll finish it one day, maybe not.more
The Rainbow is such a profoundly weird work; I know of nothing quite like it in English literature. A multi-generational epic of sensuality and consciousness set in rural England, the novel traces the lives and of several members, differing in nationality, gender, age, and social class, of the Brangwen family. The prose is hypnotizing, biblical, repetitive, chthonic, sumptuous and utterly, inexhaustibly original. I think Lawrence set out to write about the movement of blood in our veins more than the thoughts in our heads, and it is remarkable how far he succeeded.more
Lawrence's knack for nailing his female characters is astounding. I said to myself more than once, "I know that feeling and never could've put it into words". However, there were a few places that the details were redundant to the point of tedium, and I skimmed through the rest of the paragraph.

The ending, like Lady Chatterly, was perfect, though not at all the way I wanted it to end.more
To be honest, I read about 3/4 of this book, then skipped to the last chapter. I love Lawrence, but could not handle any more of his lengthy sentences. This book (unless I missed some very important part) is about life. About the choices we have, and the difficulty in choosing the "right" path. Also about having to except things and people as they are.more
Lawrence at his best, holding together a tender narrative to portray the development of three generations as an ouvre to understanding homo religiosis.more
Read all 9 reviews

Reviews

This one was okay. If you’re looking for a classic English novel there are a lot better ones to choose from. My main complaint is that there would be a whole section devoted to one generation, but once you moved onto the next section with the next generation there would hardly be any mention of the first set of characters. At one point there was mention of one of the characters from the first section, only to let you know that they had died two years prior. It seemed really abrupt, like Lawrence got sick of the characters he’d written about and wanted to focus on and introduce some new ones – reader be damned! I guess [Women in Love] is a sequel devoted to two of the younger Brangwens so I’ll be reading that at some point to what happens to them.more
I thought that the first half, describing the early life of Anna, was great. Through 'Anna Victorix', I would have said that this was one of the best books I had ever read. The writing was beautiful and very moving at times. The characters were very sympathetic and, in this book, that mattered greatly for me. The second half, which described the early life of Ursula was not as satisfying. There were wonderful scenes and some more beautiful writing, but the storyline seemed awkward and forced at times. At the end, Ursula carries much of the weight of communicating the author's view of industrial society, but she is so changable and relies so much of emotion that she is not a reliable, or maybe just not a convincing, voice by the end.more
The Rainbow tells the story of three generations of the Brangwen family, starting in 1840, and ending (roughly) near the time Lawrence wrote the book, 1915. Lawrence was very open in this novel about homosexuality, infidelity, and sex prior to marriage (on the beach no less); while he does not explicitly describe too much of this beyond kissing, groping, and allusions to what’s happening (e.g. abandoning “the moral position” and seeking “gratification pure and simple”… hmm the imagination turns…), all of this was shocking to readers of the day and the book was banned shortly after being published.One aspect of the novel is to show the similarities in the relationships between men and women over the generations, and to reveal them as having an undercurrent, a hidden struggle and battle beneath the surface. The more dominant aspect is to show the women characters becoming stronger and more assertive over time, and I wonder how much of the shock to readers came from Lawrence expressing the ideas that they could vote, gain independence through jobs in a “man’s world”, opt for a physical relationship with a man or a woman instead of marriage, and express chauvinism in the Bible (“It is impudence to say that Woman was made out of a Man’s body…when every man was born of woman. What impdudence men have, what arrogance!”). In the expression of their sexual needs over the generations, it’s an interesting progression, from “She never wanted to kiss him back. In her idea, the man kissed, and the woman examined in her soul the kisses she had received.” to “I’m not satisfied with you. Paul used to come to me and take me like a man does. You only leave me alone or take me like your cattle, quickly, to forget me again…” to open admiration for a man’s body, and the liberation of “She took off her clothes, and made him take off all his, and they ran over the smooth, moonless turf…”. The male characters struggle to keep up.Lawrence believed that sexual union was a gateway to connecting with the larger cosmos, and had eloped to Italy with Frieda, the wife of a friend. She was strong and passionate, and undoubtedly helped fuel the novel.I love Lawrence for his ability to create indelible images. Some examples of this are Anna not being able to control her laughter in the church while listening to her future husband Will singing, Will picking up a young girl and making moves on her in a dark area of the park before going home to passionate sex with his wife, Anna’s sinuous nude dancing while pregnant, Ursula and Ingrid kissing each other while skinny-dipping , and Ursula facing a class of 50-60 kids who become openly defiant to the point of throwing rocks at her in the street, until she canes the hell out of one of the worst offenders.Lawrence’s playfulness with words and his phrasing is clearly modern, though sometimes he is a little overwrought and repetitive. I may be ‘rounding up’ just a bit on the review score and your mileage may vary.Quotes:On desire:“He wished he had a hundred men’s energies, with which to enjoy her. He wished he were a cat, to lick her with a rough, grating, lascivious tongue. He wanted to wallow in her, bury himself in her flesh, cover himself over with her flesh.”On education:“What good was this place, this college? What good was Anglo-Saxon, when one only learned it in order to answer examination questions, in order that one should have a higher commercial value later on? She was sick with this long service at the inner commercial shrine. Yet what else was there? Was life all this, and this only? Everywhere, everything was debased to the same service. Everything went to produce vulgar things, to encumber material life.”On emotion in the moment:“As she sat looking out at the tender sea, with its lovely, swift glimmer, the sob rose in her breast, till she caught her lip suddenly under her teeth, and the tears were forcing themselves from her. And in her very sob, she laughed. Why did she cry? She did not want to cry. It was so beautiful that she laughed. It was so beautiful that she cried.”On religion:“They took religion and rid it of its dogmas, its falsehoods. Winifred humanised it all. Gradually it dawned upon Ursula that all the religion she knew was but a particular clothing to a human aspiration. The aspiration was the real thing – the clothing was a matter almost of national taste or need. The Greeks had a naked Apollo, the Christians a white-robed Christ, the Buddhists a royal prince, the Egyptians their Osiris. Religions were local and religion was universal. Christianity was a local branch. There was as yet no assimilation of local religions into universal religion.”On sex:“All the shameful things of the body revealed themselves to him now with a sort of sinister, tropical beauty. All the shameful, natural and unnatural acts of sensual voluptuousness which he and the woman partook of together, created together, they had their heavy beauty and their delight. Shame, what was it? It was part of extreme delight. It was that part of delight of which man is usually afraid. Why afraid? The secret, shameful things are most terribly beautiful.”more
Struggled through this til the end but really didn't enjoy it all. I prefer a non flowering style of writing and this was just too over the top for my liking.more
I'm only part way through this and I feel like somehow I'm getting a lot out of it, but with no need to read further. For once this isn't quite a criticism. The writing is what I'm enjoying - certain evocations are just beautiful. However it's starting to feel repetitive, the plot is devoid of any suspense. It's a real partial masterpiece for me but the bits that are good make it worth a go. Maybe I'll finish it one day, maybe not.more
The Rainbow is such a profoundly weird work; I know of nothing quite like it in English literature. A multi-generational epic of sensuality and consciousness set in rural England, the novel traces the lives and of several members, differing in nationality, gender, age, and social class, of the Brangwen family. The prose is hypnotizing, biblical, repetitive, chthonic, sumptuous and utterly, inexhaustibly original. I think Lawrence set out to write about the movement of blood in our veins more than the thoughts in our heads, and it is remarkable how far he succeeded.more
Lawrence's knack for nailing his female characters is astounding. I said to myself more than once, "I know that feeling and never could've put it into words". However, there were a few places that the details were redundant to the point of tedium, and I skimmed through the rest of the paragraph.

The ending, like Lady Chatterly, was perfect, though not at all the way I wanted it to end.more
To be honest, I read about 3/4 of this book, then skipped to the last chapter. I love Lawrence, but could not handle any more of his lengthy sentences. This book (unless I missed some very important part) is about life. About the choices we have, and the difficulty in choosing the "right" path. Also about having to except things and people as they are.more
Lawrence at his best, holding together a tender narrative to portray the development of three generations as an ouvre to understanding homo religiosis.more
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