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Originally conceived as the first part to Lawrence's more popular, Women in Love, the publisher released the two novels separately to avoid tainting Women in Love with the scandal of the obscenity charges brought against The Rainbow. In The Rainbow, Lawrence follows the Brangwen family through three generations, a narrative arc that corresponds with the Victorian Era. Lawrence's novel investigates the challenges that industrialization wrought on families, labor, beliefs, and relationships, especially intimate ones. It was the novel's candid exploration of sexual desire that disturbed authorities who, after a successful obscenity trial, seize and then destroyed copies of the book before issuing a ban for more than a decade. Near Fine.
D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow follows three generations of the Brangwen family, with a particular focus on the sexual dynamics of, and relations between, the characters. Tom Brangwen, who is… let’s say “not the brightest,” succeeds to his father’s farm and falls in love with Lydia Lensky, a Polish widow; Anna, Lydia’s daughter (and Tom’s stepdaughter), marries Will, a distant relative of Tom’s; Anna and Will’s oldest daughter, Ursula, is a modern working woman. For Tom Brangwen’s generation sex happens, but between the lines. For Anna and Will, bodies are alluded to and desires described. By the time Ursula Brangwen is a young woman, sex is frequent and directly addressed. This depiction of sexual desire as a natural force — perhaps spiritual, even! — caused quite a stir upon The Rainbow’s publication. The novel was almost instantly removed from the shelves of bookstores across the UKcountry and was then prosecuted in an obscenity trial in a British Magistrates’ court in November 1915, just two months after its release. As a result, roughly half of the copies of the novel’s original print run of were seized and burnt. The Rainbow was unavailable in the UK for 11 years following. Lawrence initially conceived The Rainbow and what became its sequel, Women in Love, as a single novel titled The Sisters. However, after much revision, that manuscript became two of the author’s greatest novels. The Rainbow is ranked 48th on Modern Library’s “100 Best” English-language novels of the 20th century; Women in Love is ranked 49th.
Read more: Identifying first editions of The Rainbow
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Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:
- First Edition
- In book collecting, the first edition is the earliest published form of a book. A book may have more than one first edition in...[more]
- A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the...[more]
- The outer portion of a book which covers the actual binding. The spine usually faces outward when a book is placed on a shelf....[more]