It is now one hundred years since the publication of D H Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers and those wishing to learn more about this remarkable novel – or to relive the pleasure of reading it or studying it, would do well to read Blake Morrison’s article in the Guardian and listen to the Guardian podcast part of which discusses the novel. Morrison’s article is particularly insightful, quoting a range of reviewers and writers who identify Lawrence as one of the greatest English writers (and writers in English). The novel was censored by the publishers in parts, mainly because of its sexual content. The cuts made seem trivial to today’s readers e.g. a scene where Paul Morel, the novel’s protagonist, goes up to Clara’s room and puts on a pair of her stockings was cut totally. This was an Edwardian society where sexual acts and fantasies were not to appear in print – for a variety of social and religious reasons. I studied Sons and Lovers (free ebook available) as an undergraduate and found it engrossing.
A recent visit to the National Gallery in Edinburgh to see an exhibition by the 19th century north American painter Frederic Church. The first example on display is a huge painting entitled Niagara from the American Side which shows the artist’s skill in displaying not only the action of the falls but the range of colours to be seen. The other paintings how Church’s ability to paint rural scenes. One of the highlights for me was Church’s paintings of clouds and the exhibition’s notes comment that cloud painting is often found very difficult by most artists. A very enjoyable visit and well worth repeating, as the exhibition is on until December. If you’re not near Edinburgh, then check out Church as an artist.
Last week, a nostalgic trip for my wife and me to Kemnay in Aberdeenshire, where we lived for 9 years from 1978 to 1987. We stayed with friends with whom we have kept in touch over the years and whose sons were great friends with our sons. One of the iconic places to which we took our boys, as they were then, was the Easter Aquorthies Stone Circle. Photo 1 shows the information display at the site and notes that the stone circle was built between 4000 and 5000 years ago. The stones are large and I always find it interesting to lay hands on the stone, in the knowledge that people 5000 years ago also lay hands on these stones. Photo 2 shows the circle in full and Photo 3 is a close up shot of one of the stones, which appears to contain marble. You can let your imagination fly at this stone circle and try to picture the construction of the site, the possible reasons for building the circle and the relative poverty of those involved. By modern standards, these people would appear primitive, but their vision in erecting these stones in this way, can be seen to surpass many modern constructions.