Florence: Privately Printed, 1928. First Edition. Hardcover. 1st edition. Number 302 of 1,000 signed. Slight wear at corners and the base of the spine else near fine. Near fine. Item #748
Chatterley triples with Ulysses and Tropic of Cancer as the seminal suppressed books from the first half of the 20th century, all 3 lecturing that chastity is just an unlit lamp, and adult abstinence ranks as a purity alongside of malnutrition. Now the fashion has evolved, and even thinness is preferred to decorum, so we idolize malnutrition and directs abstinence at carbohydrates. Lawrence’s novel is a brazen, heated, and dexterously written one of earnest literary merit, turning on a woman’s thorny feelings for her gardener (better to copulate than never), her realization that propriety is insufficient temptation (your sins are my experiments) and that scandal is the compassionate allowance the happy make to the puritans. Too hot for some, Lawrence’s typist quit after the 5th chapter. Aldous Huxley’s wife finished it, with part payment on page 85, a plug for the soon to be published Brave New World,
“Olive was reading a book about the future, when babies would be bred in bottles and women would be immunized.”
Early critics shrieked and grunted so loudly you’d have thought they’d caught their finger in a car door. They dragged the book into court where it was banned by aging male judges who believed that single women wore tweed nightgowns and forgot that the word tongue is feminine in Spanish, German, French, Italian, Greek, and Latin, and of course those judges were personally threatened by the idea that a wife with a non–performing husband might seek a sexual encounter outside her marriage. By the 1960s the book was seen as tame, and by the end of the century, rational fears of being ostracized for private sex were negated, and everyone was cheating on everyone, turning the whole world into Fleetwood Mac, an indication of some sort, that if you cultivate your vices when you are young, they will not forsake you when you are old. And here’s my tao about happiness. If you want to be happy for an hour, smoke some grass. If you want to be happy for a month, fall in love. If you want to be happy forever, take up book collecting.