Sons and Lovers
“Night, in which everything was lost, went reaching out, beyond stars and sun. Stars and sun, a few bright grains, went spiraling round for terror, and holding each other in embrace, there in a darkness that outpassed them all, and left them tiny and daunted. So much, and himself, infinitesimal, at the core of nothingness, and yet not nothing.” ― D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
On September 11, 1885 D. H. Lawrence was born in Eastwood, outside Nottingham, the fourth of five children. Lawrence's autobiographical novel, Sons and Lovers, initially incited a lukewarm critical reception, along with allegations of obscenity, it is today regarded as a masterpiece of modernism. It certainly established some of the themes that Lawrence would explore in his subsequent novels.
Lawrence began working on the novel in the period of his mother's illness, and the autobiographical aspects of the novel can be found in his letters written around the time of its development. Torn between his passion for two women and his abiding attachment to his mother, young Paul Morel struggles with his desire to please everyone--particularly himself. Lawrence's highly autobiographical novel unfolds against the backdrop of his native Nottinghamshire coal fields. The sensitivity of Paul is highlighted by the rough edged of the town and the other men in the family, when economic forces go against the family and their mining community his mother experiences even greater need to see young Paul break free. Lawrence's own personal family conflict provided him with the impetus for the first half of his novel — in which both William, the older brother, and Paul Morel become increasingly contemptuous of their father — and the subsequent exploration of Paul Morel's antagonizing relationships with both his lovers, which are both incessantly affected by his allegiance to his mother. Other women intrude on his life and in Lawrentian fashion the passions rise. This is his first successful novel and key in the development of modern fiction.
When you have experienced Sons and Lovers you have lived through the agonies of the young Lawrence striving to win free from his old life. Generally, it is not only considered as an evocative portrayal of working-class life in a mining community, but also an intense study of family, class and early sexual relationships.