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Saturday, 1 January 2011

D. H. Lawrence and Ethel Mannin

There is no doubt that people's opinions change dramatically over time. No more is this true is on the subject of sex. In the first volume of her autobiography, Confessions and Impressions (1930), the 29 year old Ethel Mannin praised D.H. Lawrence banned book, Lady Chatterley's Lover, as "one of the truest and most beautiful and moving books the age has produced, there will be no more taking truth's name in vain, for truth will no longer be regarded as an indecency, and men and women will live and work and love and beget each other in the sun and wind and rain, cleanly and decently and simply as the animals do... who do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, nor make one sick discussing their duty to God, nor are demented with the mania of owning things."

However, in her book, Young in the Twenties, published when she was aged 71, Mannin described Lady Chatterley's Lover as "a very silly book". I first read the book when I was 17. I also felt it was a very silly book. However, knowing what I do now, I think that Mannin was right to praise the book when she was a young woman. In the context of the 1920s, Lawrence's book was indeed a brave attempt to deal with a taboo subject in mainstream literature.

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