The Rainbow – D.H. Lawrence, A Superb Classic

The Rainbow is the first book I read by D. H. Lawrence. Frankly, I never expected the author to be this impressive. In 1915, the year it was written, such a book was by no means expected, as the novel was immediately banned, and its prints were burned. An eleven-year ban followed by nasty comments.

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But of course, The Rainbow would not be separated from its readers forever. Nowadays, we may ask, “Why is this book banned at all?” but it was so far ahead of its time, and Lawrence’s descriptions took me away from me. If you’re looking for an exquisite classic to read, you’ve found it.

The Rainbow - D.H. Lawrence

The Rainbow is a novel about three generations of a family called Brangwen, set in Nottinghamshire, England. As you read this family’s experiences, you will take a look at the lives of rural England. However, I can say that it is not just any feature of the Brangwen family that makes The Rainbow special. It is Lawrence’s masterful use of language, going beyond his time and explaining sex, sexuality, and human complexity with a beautiful language.

However, I cannot help but mention that The Rainbow is definitely not a summer book; I think it should be read carefully during the winter months while wrapped in a blanket and drinking tea. If you don’t follow the rhythm, you may feel bored and want to throw it away. And it can be tough to keep up with the rhythm of the book in sunny weather. Until you meet Ursula, please, but please keep reading the book, don’t let it go, then you won’t want to quit anyway. If you like classics, you’ll love this as well. Enjoy!

The Rainbow - D.H. Lawrence

The Rainbow

Spanning the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, D. H. Lawrence’s provocative novel traces the lives of three generations of one family on their Nottinghamshire farm. Rooted in an agrarian past, Tom and Lydia Brangwen and their descendants find themselves navigating a rapidly changing world—a world of unprecedented individualism, alienation, and liberation. Banned after an obscenity trial in 1915 for its frankness about sexuality, THE RAINBOW was most remarkable for the pathbreaking journeys of its female characters, particularly that of Ursula Brangwen, whose destiny Lawrence explored further in his next novel, Women in Love.

In its surface drama, in its capacious and expansive rhythms that so resemble the rhythms of nature itself, THE RAINBOW is one of the world’s great examples of the multi-generational family saga. But the large claim that Lawrence’s masterpiece has made on the attention of readers and critics stems less from this fact than from the deeper parallel history he provides for the Brangwens—a history of the growth of their souls, moving in a great arc from sensuality to self-awareness and freedom.

D.H. Lawrence

David Herbert Lawrence was born in 1885 in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, the fourth child of Arthur Lawrence and Lydia Beardsall.

After attending Beauvale Board School he won a scholarship to Nottingham High School. On leaving school in 1901 he was employed for a short time as a clerk at the Nottingham firm of Haywards, manufacturers of surgical appliances, and from 1902 as a pupil teacher at the British School in Eastwood.

He attended the Pupil-Teacher Centre in Ilkeston from 1904 and in 1906 took up a teacher-training scholarship at University College, Nottingham. After qualifying in 1908 he took up a teaching post at the Davidson School in Croydon, remaining there until 1912.

In early 1912, after a period of serious illness, Lawrence left his teaching post at Croydon to return to Nottinghamshire, shortly afterwards eloping to Germany with Frieda Weekley, the wife of Professor Ernest Weekley. They returned to England in 1914 prior to the outbreak of war and were married at Kensington Register Office on 14 July. Confined to England during the war years, the Lawrences spent much of this time at Tregerthen in Cornwall.

In 1919 they left England once more, embarking on a period of extensive travelling within Europe and then further afield to Ceylon, Australia, Mexico and New Mexico.

The Rainbow - D.H. Lawrence

His health continued to deteriorate and Lawrence returned to Europe with Frieda in 1925. During his last years Lawrence spent much of his time in Italy making only brief visits to England, the last in 1926. He died on 2 March 1930 at Vence in the south of France.

Lawrence was a prolific writer – of poetry, novels, short stories, plays, essays, and criticism. His works are heavily autobiographical and the experiences of his early years in Nottinghamshire continued to exert a profound influence throughout his life.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

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