Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Best Book Review Ever

Despite blogging about sex, Father Anonymous admits that he has never read Lady Chatterley's Lover. Reason: D.H. Lawrence's short stories and poems are terrible. The idea of reading a novel by that man fills your humble blogger with dread. Think of the time that could be better spent reading comics. Or the phone book.

Still, the court cases which lifted the Chatterley ban are landmarks in the history of free expression, and to some degree made contemporary literature possible. (Oh, joy). It is worth celebrating the British case, resolved just fifty years ago next month. The story is well told by Ben Yagoda in the article linked above. Yagoda explores the curious way that the leading litterateurs of the day were enlisted by lawyers in defense of a novel which most of them knew was embarrassingly bad.

Several howlingly wretched excerpts from the book are introduced, which you will need to read for yourself in context -- remembering that here, the context is an elegant wood-paneled courtroom, the text recited by bewigged barristers.

But our very favorite bit is this review of Chatterley, excerpted from Field and Stream. Yes, that Field and Stream:
This fictional account of the day-to-day life of an English gamekeeper is still of interest to outdoor-minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant-raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the occasional gamekeeper. Unfortunately, one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savor these sidelights on the management of a Midlands shooting estate, and in this reviewer’s opinion the book cannot take the place of J. R. Miller’s Practical Gamekeeper.)

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