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Aaron's Rod

3.14  ·  Rating details ·  632 ratings  ·  70 reviews

Written in the years following World War I and set in postwar England and Italy, Aaron's Rod questions many of the accepted social and political institutions of Lawrence's generation, and raises issues as valid for our own time as they were for his. The novel's hero is an Everyman who flees the destruction in England and his failing marriage and who, like Lawrence himself,

Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 9th 1976 by Penguin Books (first published 1922)
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Average rating 3.14  · 
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 ·  632 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a sad, sad story! And painfully true and honest as well.

Written in the aftermath of the First World War, it illustrates the alienation and loss after the catastrophe on a personal level, symbolised in the rejection of pre-war life style and values. The main character, Aaron Sisson, leaves his life in a Northern mining community behind to escape his unhappy marriage. He embarks on a journey to find a place for himself in a world that has broken down, lost all meaning, given up on the optim
MJ Nicholls
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Labelled incorrectly as a “picaresque” on Wikipedia, this freewheeling novel concerns a misanthropic flautist fed up with working-classness who travels into the realm of bourgeois country houses and opera attendees with the aid of his tuneful rod. One of Lawrence’s improvisatory novels, Aaron’s Rod is more concerned with barbed dialogues between thinly-veiled realsters (the character of Aaron is supposed to be J. Middleton Murry), most of which are overlong and untrimmed and pretty entertaining. ...more
Jennifer Ochoa
Feb 02, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, next-ebook
My experiment with D.H. Lawrence has come to an end. This is the third novel of his I have read in the last two years (the others being The Rainbow and Lady Chatterly's Lover) and all three novels I have strongly disliked. I really wanted to respect Lawrence even if I did not particularly enjoy reading him. However, after this novel, I can't even fake respect.

Before I get into why, I wanted to share this hysterical passage from Aaron's Rod. A bomb has just exploded in a cafe: "But Aaron looked i
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lawrence
I wasn't really sure what to expect with this book. I am a D.H. Lawrence fan, but this one did not have very high reviews, so I went in skeptical. I have to say I really enjoyed it. It is typical Lawrence.. beautifully written, but not very likable characters. All in all, if a Lawrence fan, a very enjoyable read. ...more
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.


"Do you think, Lilly, we're the world? said Robert ironically. "Oh, yes, I guess w're shipwrecked in this box, like Robinson Crusoes. And what we do on our own little island matters to us alone. As for the infinite crowds of howling savages outside there in the unspeakable, all you've got to do is mind they don't scrap you."

When you love, your soul breathes in - when your soul breathes out, it's bloody revolution.

A man should remain himself
Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Not one of D.H's best known novels but well worth a read if you are a fan of his writing. The story follows the tale of a flute playing mine worker from Nottinghamshire, Aaron Sisson, who sets out on a journey of discovery and exploration across post-war Europe after becoming disillusioned with his life at home. Along the way he comes into contact with numerous characters who seek to influence his outlook on life as he struggles with the true purpose of his existence. Lawrence returns to many of ...more
T.P. Williams
Feb 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Some parts of book were excellent, the writing straight from the heart, the way the author describes passion, self-loathing, etc. Story line, however, very jumbled, and several times the same device used - a group of people meeting, debating - the pub in England, the dinner party at Bricknell's, the crowd at Sir William Franks', the gatherings with the ex-pat colony in Florence. Some of the figures were not developed, and it was just dialogue, no character developments, speechifying, really. I k ...more
Almost as bad as Sons and Lovers, but not quite. Again with the non-ending, indecisive and wishy-washy text. May it's just the semi-biographical works that I'm having a problem with, but I think I can make the pronouncement that I do not like Lawrence's works.
In the words of evil Willow, bored now.
Doreen Petersen
Aug 25, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: classics
Seriously don't bother with this one! ...more
William Baker
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another hidden gem of literature, the story of many characters who undergo the experience of becoming lost emotionally, intellectually, existentially. A shaman born in civilization, DHL points out the healthy elements of such a disorientation and thereby makes his novel a work of healing. So he should be forgiven very consciously by the reader for his occasional preachiness, seeming misogyny, and instances of muddy reasoning. Under the mesmerizing force of everything and everyone he turns his at ...more
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Lawrence is my favourite author because I am drawn to his fearlessness and psychological acuity. He invites controversy, not for the sake of it, but rather, to question the establishment – class structures, social conventions, etc. I love that about him. He is in fine form with Aaron’s Rod. Taking place after the war, Lawrence’s Aaron is adrift. This novel is about Aaron’s journey both physically and psychologically as he tries to find his place in a new world. Lawrence gives his readers plenty ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: grown-up-books
Well, it's finally happened. I have found a British writer I hate. Reading this was reminiscent of reading Anna Karenina; dull plotline involving a character I find so nauseatingly self-absorbed and tedious that I want to smack him/her.

Unless someone can tell me all DH Lawrence is not like this, I will never read another of his works.
Aug 16, 2012 added it
I've officially given up Lawrence for good. Great writer, maybe the best all time; but for me, he's poison. ...more
Michelle Bacon

Lawrence became very repetitious throughout this book. It was as if his characters had some sort of social flaw. And while we are on the subject of social views, that was Lawrence's message throughout this book. He took on religion, love, poverty, adultery, much packed into this novel that it could be overwhelming.
A book like this could have some impact on today's society with the division of the left and right although I think this book leaned more to the left.
I did no
Daniel Krotz
This was a re-reading. What's different? Back in the 70s, Lawrence was quite popular and lots of folks read his stuff. Today? The book felt dated and a bit wore out. Dull stuff. ...more
Bohdan Pechenyak
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
A powerful philosophical treatment of the social and political disillusionment in postwar Europe through the prism of an individual rebellion against social norms and bourgeois values, as well as trappings of unhappy family life and economic bureaucracy. Pursuit of individuality, expression, art, passion takes the center stage, while both ostensible bohemian intellectualism and stale middle-class mediocrity are satirized. A premonition of the “strong leader” cult and the turn toward rejection of ...more
Arabella Thorne
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting novel. A lesser known D.H. Lawrence novel written in 1922 about a coal miner (who doesn't live in grinding poverty) Aaron Sisson who walks away from his wife and three daughters (making sure there's money in the bank for them) and wanders Europe. He can play the flute--well enough to play for opera orchestras. He floats around the edge of the haute monde of London and observes. Interested but not terribly. Then he gets the flu and survives with the help of one of his new ...more
Nov 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: classics
I did not like it. Do I just not get it? I'm not sure if it's DH Lawrence that hates women, or just the main character, Aaron Sisson. Either way, this novel made me angry.
We start with the inddiffernet Aaron Sisson leaving his wife & children in post (WWI?) war England to wander to and around London. Not only is he indifferent to her, he really doesn't actually fight with her. He lets her talk and he just looks at her, decides she's suffocating him, and leaves. In London, he's a flautist for an
Naga Sravika  Bodapati
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think this book is highly underrated and some parts/moments of it could only be understood by someone with highly evolved consciousness. I am surprised at the explanation of what soul's desires mean and what it means to be in a state of complete peace with oneself. Aaron is a flutist who walks through life without goal wanting to explore and not be tied to something. His friend and mentor, Lilly is in the same boat but unlike Aaron who is clueless as to how to deal with his lost soul, Lilly ha ...more
Lesley Scott
Nov 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
The synopsis I read before reading described this as a comedy novel, but I think I missed the jokes.

That said, I found this to be the most readable of the Lawrence novels I have read. The central character rather selfishly abandons his working class family and goes to discover his fate with the bohemian set in London. Set shortly after the First World War, the novel touches on passing politics and changing social structures as Europe enters a modern age but doesn't dwell on this. The reader is l
My first D H Lawrence and I'm sure I didn't pick a good one to start with. I should have picked a more familiar tale. This one was interesting to read, the story of a mining community worker who walks out on his wife and children without a backward glance and goes off to pursue a life as a wandering flute player. He seems to slip into the circles of classes higher than him so easily and is accepted right away, they tempt him away to Italy. I didn't find Aaron Sisson a particularly likeable chara ...more
Jason Hillenburg
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
This makes me weary. I am beginning to think that Hemingway's A Moveable Feast is right
about Lawrence. - the short fiction is fantastic while the novels are absurd. Lawrence has given our society much, without question, but novels like this are the result of ideas triumphing over poetry and it's a pattern with too much of his full length fiction. The dialogue is trash - we can talk about the style of the time, sure, but laying heavy handed adverbs on every third line of dialogue suggests a shock
Feb 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
DH Lawrence was both a very good writer and a very bad one and this book encapsulates both of these aspects. I first read Aaron's Rod as an impressionable youth and only wanted to re-read it to see what Lawrence wrote about Italy and in particular, Florence. Lawrence had a tendency to rant and in this work he gives free reign to it. And there are moments when his genius shines through, but these are, sadly, all too rare. ...more
Jan 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Not a bad book, but a bit full of angst for my liking. I can imagine when it was written that it must have been scandalous. I did enjoy the debates regarding love, marriage, freedom and religion. It is somewhat frustrating and hard to imagine these days how uptight and restrictive England used to be back in the early 1900's. I felt this book was a bit rambling at times. ...more
Apr 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Aaron's Rod is a picaresque novel that tells the story of Aaron Sisson, who works as a Secretary at a colliery in the English Midlands. Realizing his marriage is breaking down, he walks out on his wife and children to seek a new life and decides on impulse to visit Italy, hoping to become a professional musician. ...more
Oct 19, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite DH Lawrence, but if you're scorning society and exploring your individual needs with others as props, this may be your guide. ...more
Glass River
Jun 05, 2020 marked it as fic-guided
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeremy Neal
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having completed all of Lawrence's major works I am now into the outliers, novellas, short story collections and lesser known materials, which is a happy and unhappy place to be all at once. This is an interesting story, and although not well known, is nonetheless a classic Lawrence. Surely, everything that Lawrence wrote has to be quintessentially Lawrencian, I hear you cry? Well, perhaps, but this novel starts uncomfortably, because it does not really feel like his work, and it is a bit of a l ...more
May 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, audio-book
From the start I didn't feel sympathetic towards the main character and that didn't really change throughout the entire story.
His friends were also quite unlikable, although I kind of enjoyed the bits with Francis and that other artist guy. I kept wondering if they were gay though, but I guess that would've been way too controversial for a story of this time.

The thing that really distracted me was the repetition of phrases. Maybe the author lived in an area where people spoke like that, but it g
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very well written novel about Aaron Sisson, a 32 year old man searching for meaning in his life.
It's around 1920. Aaron Sisson leaves his wife and children and 12 year old marriage in an English mining community where Aaron had worked as a secretary for a Miner's Union. He journeys to London and makes a living playing flute in orchestras. In London he meets Rawdon Lilly (who is a satirical self-portrait of Lawrence himself). The Lilly's have no children. Rawdon is a writer and a wanderer with
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Reading 1001: Aaron's Rod - Lawrence 1 4 Dec 31, 2018 08:30AM  

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David Herbert Richards Lawrence was an English writer of the 20th century, whose prolific and diverse output included novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays, travel books, paintings, translations, literary criticism, and personal letters. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, Lawrence confronts issues re ...more

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