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D.H. Lawrence: The Rainbow

© 1915, 1989
– March 29, 2021

I write this review well after reading it; indeed, being reminded that I did read it — and that it belongs in this list — when I re-read my review of Delillo's Underworld. In fact, I will lead off this brief review, whose purpose is entirely to say, "Yes, this is literary fiction of the highest order," with a moment from that Delillo review of his not terribly literary book:


"The philosophical explorations in the work — and perhaps they should be also or rather called mythical, or spiritual explorations — imbue the work, indeed are the grounding of the work: the events of the narrative are not used to explicate the arguments; rather, the arguments create the narrative. The energies of the text begin in the mythic and move outward to the narrative."


Notice the direction: it begins in the mythic, and works outward to the narrative. Lawrence is one of those authors whose constantly strove to write in the aesthetic, in the mythic, and The Rainbow speaks to how well he can succeed in that endeavor. (I have not read any other novels by him so I cannot speak beyond this book.) I read the Penguin edition, which has an introduction by James Woods that is excellent prelude to the text, describing how Lawrence organized The Rainbow around a series of retellings of the Garden of Eden story. And the use is not merely as a clothesline on which to hang his new narrative. Its use is wholly symbolic, and the energies that come from it make of the text a wholly symbolic text.

I feal like I am starting to get lost in abstractions and repetitions, so I will stop. My aim here was not to give a long review. It is simply to say that The Rainbow is literature at its highest, and should be read.

Read this book, dammit. (And see the Ken Russell film with Sammi Davis and Amanda Donohoe while you're at it.)