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The Rainbow (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 27 Jul 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 494 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (27 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141184221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141184227
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,341,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Lawrence is the most Dostoevskian of English novelists, in whose best work conflicting ideological positions are brought into play and set up against each other in dialogue that is never simply or finally resolved." -David Lodge --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

D. H. Lawrence started 'The Sisters' in 1913, wrote four different versions and claimed to have discarded 'quite a thousand pages' before completing The Rainbow in 1915. Mark Kinkead-Weekes gives the composition history and collates the surviving states of the text to assess the damage done to Lawrence's great novel. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
The Brangwens had lived for generations on the Marsh Farm, in the meadows where the Erewash twisted sluggishly through alder trees, separating Derbyshire from Nottinghamshire. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Miss Scarlett on 2 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback

Though Lawrence is best known for writing Lady Chatterley's Lover, for me, The Rainbow is a far more illuminating and interesting look at sexuality. It also avoids Lawrence's key pitfalls: tendency to be florid when describing sex, long passages of Lawrence philosophising and my pet hate- the Mellors type. Lawrence has a particular type of male character he loves writing about- a rough, hearty man-of-the-soil, a man's man who can barely string a sentence together but is seething with bestial passions. Mellors is of course the epitome of this character. I don't know whether Lawrence thinks women like things like that or whether he has a penchant himself. Anyway, we only get a very minor character of the Mellors type in The Rainbow.

Originally Women in Love, the sequel to The Rainbow, was going to make up the fourth and final section of the book. Though The Rainbow is not rigidly divided into sections, there are three key eras in the history of the Brangwen family. The first generation is Tom Brangwen, who marries a Polish widow Lydia Lensky. She's six years his senior with a tragic sort of soul that Tom can never quite understand. As an antidote to the alienation he feels from his wife, Tom focuses his affections on her little stepdaughter Anna. Though Tom and Lydia have children together, it is Anna Lensky that heralds the second era of the novel.

As a teenager, Anna falls for Will Brangwen, her 'cousin'. Will is different from the typical blonde-haired Brangwens; he is skinny and dark-haired. This will become a theme of the novel, as each new era involves a change that moves the family away from their agricultural history and towards the modern era. Like Tom and Lydia, Anna and Will have a deep passion with trouble at its heart.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Supportyourlocallibrary on 29 April 2012
Format: Paperback
The Rainbow is an intergenerational saga set in late Victorian England. It deals with the inner emotional lives of a Nottinghamshire farming family-the Brangwens-who have lived on the land for generations and yet have to face to upheaval of a fast changing world. It is a novel about human relationships and all their complexity. This is evident from the outset when the young Tom Brangwen marries an older Polish lady and he forms a close bond with her daughter Anna, who he adopts.

It is not hard to see why the book was banned in 1915. The book is exceptionally frank and it is honest about the problems that can occur between men and women. Tom is insanely jealous when his adopted daughter marries her cousin Will Brangwen and the subsequent Will-Anna match is fraught with difficulty. They clash over matters religious: the religious buildings that Will loves leave Anna cold.

Eventually Will and Anna have a daughter Ursula, who grows up to be something of a free spirit. Ursula wants to make her own way in the world and this brings her into conflict with her father. She becomes a school teacher in Nottingham (a terribly draining but ultimately rewarding experience for her). Lawrence describes the fear and drudgery of teaching exceptionally well and he seems to be remarkably sympathetic to Ursula and her desire for freedom.

This is definitely one of those 'great books' that I felt more than lived up to its critical reputation. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys classic fiction and especially to people who have only read Lady Chatterley's Lover. This-I felt- was a much more rewarding and challenging book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Guv on 16 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
The Rainbow is a hugely rewarding novel, which despite its relative brevity has the air of the epic about it. I had previously read Lady Chatterley's Lover and I've since read Women in Love, but while I enjoyed both neither had the impact of The Rainbow. That this book was censured and unavailable to buy legally in Britain for over a decade is testimony that many aspects of British life in the earlier decades of the last century are not worth mourning. The Brangwens are a family to be savoured, and Lawrence expertly evokes a long lost semi-mythical past without resorting to sentiment. This is a magnificent novel, and in over thirty years of devouring books of many kinds, this is one that has few peers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback
I first read this work of Lawrence when I was in my `20's. It has nagged me that I remembered virtually none of it from that reading. Furthermore, his ashes are "vitrified," that is, they have been incorporated in a heavy glass slab, by his wife, Frieda, purportedly so that his various mistresses could not steal them. They are in a very small chapel, on his former ranch, a bit north of Taos, New Mexico. The ranch is now owned by the University of New Mexico, which "doesn't have the money to maintain it," so the public is no longer permitted to enter. Besides, "no one" reads Lawrence anymore, and UNM does have football coach's salaries to pay. And then there was the matter of the long-term habit of marking certain "significant passages" in a work. Very few were marked from my first read; however I could now look across a gulf of four decades to note what my youthful self had marked... for the time I would become "elderly": "Alas, and alas, for the passion of the human heart, that must die so long before the body was dead." Hum!! Could that possibly be true? It was a wild potpourri of reasons, but I felt this work needed a re-read, and I was not disappointed.

It is a lush, lyrical and complex novel. It is set in the geographical heartland of England, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Lawrence's evocative depictions of the English countryside are Turner's paintings in words. It is the eternal rhythms of the rural world, where outside events rarely intrude, so much so that it was hard to determine the time period. At the risk of a "spoiler," I was able to piece together a few clues from that outside world, and determine that the novel covered the period, roughly, from 1830 to 1910. The canal and the railroad came to the Brangwen's farm, and eventually the motorcar.
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