Arguably one of the best known, and certainly one of the most controversial, of our 100 titles, Lady Chatterley’s Lover caused itself a downright furore on publication in 1928. I say ‘publication’, though it was printed privately in Italy, since it was banned in the UK until 1960. And when, in 1960, it was finally published by Penguin – bound by this very cover artwork, indeed – there began the most infamous trial of a publisher in history. The case was made under the Obscene Publications Acts of 1959, which objected to its use of… certain words (I’m far too polite to record them here for dear readers’ tender ears. Use your imagination) and, quite simply, they did not deem it a work of literary merit.
And nor does our reviewer.
So it was illegal 80 years ago, unpalatable 50 years ago – and what of now? Is it simply too graphic, too base, its characters too flawed and too ugly, even for a 21st-century audience? Is it we who are too squeamish, or Lady Chatterley’s Lover which is unnecessarily gratuitous? Is it, indeed, unworthy of literary merit? I’d love to hear what you think – add your voice to the Comments section if you’ve read it. (For the record, I love it.)
Love it, hate it, offended by it, embarrassed by it – wherever you stand on it, everyone stands somewhere on it. Isn’t that a good thing?
Did you know? D.H. Lawrence considered calling this book Tenderness at one point. Curious.
Somewhere on the descent from the bitch-goddess to the child-man, this book loses its charm.
One needn’t jump in so much mud to prove it makes one dirty.