Lady Chatterley’s Lover, novel by D. H. Lawrence, was released in limited English-language editions in Florence (1928) and Paris (1929). (1929). In 1932, an edited version was first published in England.
The whole book was not published until 1959 in New York City and 1960 in London, at which time it was the subject of a landmark obscenity lawsuit (Regina v. Penguin Books, Ltd. ), which hinged largely on the justification of the novel’s use of taboo sexual words. This final novel by Lawrence expresses the author’s conviction that men and women must overcome the suffocating constraints of industrialized civilization and pursue their natural desires for passionate love.
Constance (Connie) Chatterley is married to Sir Clifford, a wealthy landowner who is paralyzed from the waist down and engrossed in his books and estate, Wragby. After a disastrous affair with the writer Michaelis, Connie turns to the estate’s gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors, a representation of the natural man, who arouses her passions.
Lady Chatterly’s Lover’s publication history is a storyline in and of itself. Privately published in 1928 and long available in foreign editions, the first unabridged edition of the novel did not appear in England until 1960, when Penguin took the risk of releasing it. Penguin, which was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959, was acquitted after an infamous trial in which numerous prominent authors of the time spoke for the defense.
Due to its notorious past, the work is best recognized for its vivid sexual descriptions. In the backdrop of a plot revolving on Lady Constance Chatterly and her unhappy marriage to Sir Clifford, a wealthy landowner and writer from the Midlands, several events occur. Constance begins a passionate romance with Oliver Mellors, the educated gamekeeper for her husband. The novel concludes with Mellors and Constance briefly separated in the hopes of obtaining divorces in order to begin a new life together.
Even in the early 21st century, this novel is one of the few in English literature that explore female sexual desire. It illustrates a woman’s experience with the exquisite pleasure of wonderful sex, her cataclysmic disappointment in horrible sex, and her satisfaction in making real love. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is also a sustained and profound commentary on the status of modern society and the threat of industrialization and capitalism to culture and humanity.