You don’t have to look for newly-published fiction to find something great to read. Today I found this moving short story in my college literature anthology. It was published in 1922, by the great English author, D. H Lawrence.
Mabel Pervin faces a desperate decision. Her father has died, and has left Mabel and her adult brothers deep in debt from his horse dealing business. Unmarried, she has been keeping house and taking care of her family, but now the house must be sold and she is alone. Her brothers have secured their own futures, but Mabel has nothing. And they have made it clear that she must find her own way.
Her brothers ask and she refuses to discuss her plans. There is something alarming in her resolve to keep her thoughts private. Mabel reaches a sort of frightening peace when she visits her mother’s grave, feeling a strong and contented connection. And when the village’s young doctor, Jack Ferguson, spots Mabel headed to the pond, he follows.
Jack and Mabel face a crisis and intense emotions and Lawrence’s descriptions are as raw as these characters. The story ends with a hint of happiness, but much uncertainty. This is the kind of story I love because of its open-ended finish, allowing me to think about it and wonder.
David Herbert Lawrence was an English writer who lived from 1885-1930. His novels, short stories, poetry, letters, plays and sketches represent a unique and provocative style that was not universally accepted by the critics of his time. He is best known for his novels, Sons and Lovers (1913), The Rainbow (1915), Women in Love (1920), and Lady Chatterly’s Lover (1928), but he also wrote a great deal of other fiction and non-fiction during those years.
Lawrence was born in the Midland mining village of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. His father was a miner and his mother, who was educated, was determined to have her children escape from the working class life. This conflict between his parents became the source of much of his writing.
When Lawrence’s older brother died, their mother developed an intense claim on her surviving son. The many conflicts of this relationship are portrayed in his novel, Sons and Lovers. His next novel, The Rainbow, was banned for being indecent a month after it was published. In addition to its censorship, critics did not know what to make of Lawrence’s style of combining man with nature and in conflict with civilization, a style Lawrence himself could not explain. Lawrence also wrote about the working class, marriage and the intense feelings in human relationships.
Facing criticism and a misunderstanding of his work, Lawrence felt betrayed by the ideas of modern civilization and he left England. He spent the rest of his life living and writing in Italy, Australia, Mexico and France. He died in France, of tuberculosis, at the age of 44.
Biographical information comes from The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Fourth Edition, Volume 2 and from Wikipedia
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