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The Rainbow

(Brangwen Family #1)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  18,588 ratings  ·  748 reviews
Set in the rural Midlands of England, The Rainbow (1915) revolves around three generations of the Brangwens, a strong, vigorous family, deeply involved with the land. When Tom Brangwen marries a Polish widow,Lydia Lensky, and adopts her daughter Anna as his own, he is unprepared for the conflict and passion that erupts between them. All are seeking individual fulfilment, b ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Signet (first published 1915)
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Sarah This ship has probably already sailed for the OP, but for anyone else asking themselves this question: do yourself a favor and read The Rainbow first!…moreThis ship has probably already sailed for the OP, but for anyone else asking themselves this question: do yourself a favor and read The Rainbow first!! Not only would several suspenseful plot points in The Rainbow be spoiled by reading Women in Love first, but having the background on the family gives a completely new dimension to certain references in WiL to some characters' pasts that otherwise might escape the reader's notice.(less)

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This is a three-generation family saga, set in Nottinghamshire, starting in Victorian times and ending before fears of WW1 loomed. Except that it isn’t that: the brief Introduction summarises all the key characters, careers, couplings, births and deaths.

Events are mere tools and waypoints, not the purpose or destination, because this is not primarily a story: it’s an experience of passions, clothed in elliptically floral, fiery, watery imagery, stained deep with Biblical themes.

But these are n
Jeffrey Keeten
”The situation was almost ridiculous.

‘But do you love him?’ asked Dorothy.

‘It isn’t a question of loving him,’ said Ursula. ‘I love him well enough--certainly more than I love anybody else in the world. And I shall never love anybody else the same again. We have had the flower of each other. But I don’t care about love. I don’t value it. I don’t care whether I love or whether I don’t, whether I have love or whether I haven’t. What is it to me?’

And she shrugged her shoulders in fierce, angry cont
Nowhere else within the broad realm of literature have I come across such beauteous turns of phrase devoted to exploring the many dimensions of sexual desire. In fact, I cannot cease to wonder how Lawrence manages to convey the intensity and intimacy of a kiss and a caress so effectually without deploying any explicit terms. His men and women are often capricious creatures of instinct and restless, stubborn adherents of their inexorable self will which causes them to be in conflict - even if ten ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
D.H. Lawrence was one of the first who has begun to write openly about the awakening of sexual consciousness.
So they were together in a darkness, passionate, electric, for ever haunting the back of the common day, never in the light. In the light, he seemed to sleep, unknowing. Only she knew him when the darkness set him free, and he could see with his gold-glowing eyes his intention and his desires in the dark. Then she was in a spell, then she answered his harsh, penetrating call with a soft l
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those capable of blooming in constant contradiction
“She turned, and saw a great white moon looking at her over the hill. And her breast opened to it, she was cleaved like a transparent jewel to its light. She stood filled with the moon, offering herself. Her two breasts opened to make way for it, her body opened wide like a quivering anemone, a soft, dilated invitation touched by the moon.” (268)

Re-reading "The Rainbow" after so many years has been like a shattering force of nature. A rampant flood that has washed me anew, a piercing light tha
The Rainbow was published in 1915 and was the prequel to Women in Love (1920). It is set in rural England in the early 20th century, and is the story of three generations of the Brangwen family. It deals with themes like love, relationships, family, homosexuality, social mores, religious rebellion, just to name a few. It was originally banned in England for it's frank portrayals of sex in nontraditional manners, something that Lawrence would encounter throughout his career.

I read Women in Love f
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
Farty proto-fascist flapdoodle served up with a twist of hippy bollocks and garnished with enough of a patina of feminist sympathy for it to goosestep rapidly under some people's radar. Yes DH Lawrence could write. Somebody should have stopped him though.
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fav-authors, vintage
These were the precursors to having a book banned:
1. Talk about lesbian love
2. Mention love between cousins
3. Mention sex
4. Have independent-minded women, you know, those who didn't believe that they were put on this earth simply to procreate?

Speaking of women and societal expectations, even in these modern times, some believe that a married woman is supposed to act according to a prescribed norm that is different than a married man (which way, I dare ask sometimes - is she not supposed to have
Roy G. Biv, the Birds and the Bees
*4.4 stars*

This D.H. Lawrence novel, published in 1915, was almost immediately banned as obscene and the first printing of over 1,000 copies were seized and burned. It was not available for purchase in Britain for the next 11 years.

No doubt, this book treated sexual desire as candidly as most books theretofore published. While it is relatively mild by today's standards over a century out, it handled sensuality in a way that is true to life as a natural and spi
Manuel Antão
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2002
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Working-Class Fiction: "The Rainbow" by D. H. Lawrence

(Original Review, 2002-06-08)

Lawrence is "uneven," but of the four novels I've read by him, "The Rainbow" is the best. I read "Sons and Lovers" at the British Council. I loved it at 15, but loved it far less 2 years later. I liked "Lady Chatterley's Lover" more than I thought I would, but that maybe because of all the scorn I'd heard poured on it before I read the book. I read "The
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
I cannot explain it myself but I feel and have always felt, DH Lawrence's novels to be enormously tedious. I have read them out of a sense of duty to Literature with a capital L and have always been pleased when the ride was over. It is not that I am unsympathetic to the man or his ideas. Quite the contrary. I met someone once who said that they intensely disliked what Lawrence was trying to say but admired Larence's novels as great literature. With me it is exactly the opposite. I strongly appr ...more
My actual review is here. It’s a brief, emotional response, rather than a traditional review.

What follows below is just a collection of quotes, grouped loosely by theme, plus a (very) few comments about the change of tone at the end (not spoilers, as the events I’ve alluded to are made plain in the book’s Introduction).

As 2014 crossed into 2015, I was reading Stoner for the first - and second - time.
As 2015 crossed into 2016, I was reading Lawrence for the first time in so long it might have be
David Schaafsma
I first read D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow in Professor Peter Oppewal’s British and American Novels class when I was 19, and it was one of the books that led me to become an English major. It was a perfect book for someone my age, susceptible to both lush romanticism and some harsh social criticism. As I saw it, it focused on the young individual, longing to be free, versus the constraining, soul-killing society.

"Self was a oneness with infinity"--Ursula

And especially for me, it even featured a y
Oh Lord, this book.

Let me start with the good stuff. The writing is amazing, I'll give it that. I love the flowery language and the metaphors. I even understand that this is some groundbreaking feminist idea in old world Europe. I understand all that.

I detest this book. I loathe this story. I gnashed my teeth on every page and every scene with these monstrous characters. I read this entire damned story and hated it the whole way. The language and ideas could not keep me from hating every charac
The Rainbow follows three generations of the Brangwen family. Starting in 1840 and ending before the First World War, the setting is Nottinghamshire, located in the east Midlands of England. The family members are farmers and craftsmen and one, Ursula, will become a teacher. The backdrop is the change in social norms that occurred at the turn of the 20th century.

What stands out, what makes this book different from others? First and foremost, the writing. Emotions, and even more, sensations, com
MJ Nicholls
The most inflated Lawrence, plump with more histrionic overreactions in people’s bowels and embittered scowls than most novelists crowbar into their entire canons, and deep-dives into psyches that range from captivating to tedious. The chapter exploring Ursula Brangwen’s teaching in a deprived school is on a par with Orwell’s A Clergyman’s Daughter for belts-and-braces horror-realism and the horns of her dilemma as a super-intelligent protofeminist in a world that hasn’t invented the term protof ...more
Xandra (StarrySkyBooks)
I cried because of how much I did not want to read this book. (Read it for class! I'm such a happy English major, haha!)
‘’The Rainbow to be prosecuted in an obscenity trial at Bow Street Magistrates' Court on 13 November 1915, as a result of which 1,011 copies were seized and burnt. After this ban it was unavailable in Britain for 11 years, although editions were available in the United States.’’
I like reading banned books. I need help.

Don’t fuck your relatives. Thank you.
I wanted to keep notes to write a review but I forgot because I suck. Anyways, long story short I didn’t really expect to like this but I d
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: d-h-lawrence
Why must one climb the hill ? Why must one climb? Why not stay below? Why force one's way up the slope? Why force one's way up and up, when one is at the bottom? Oh, it was very tiring, very wearying, very burdensome. Always burdens, always, always burdens.
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve heard DH Lawrence called a misogynist, and I can’t think of anything more absurd. I can’t name another man author who writes women more like people than DH Lawrence— of the Edwardian or modern era. His female characters, on the whole, are intellectually brilliant and intensely independent (there’s even a woman physics professor). You won’t find many frilly-headed little husband-hunters here (hi, Jane Austen).

Lawrence has a gift for pulling out scenes that give you this under current of fee
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Wow! What can I say about D.H. Lawrence? I finished this book on the train from Montreal to New York and I think it left a greater impression upon me than my entire trip. The first chapter is tremendous. The next couple of hundred pages was difficult for me to read--a testiment to the impossibility of ever really connecting with someone you love. Lawrence is an amazing writer, despite the reputation. It was an interesting experience reading this after Women in Love and knowing what was in store ...more
Paul Christensen
Jul 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels-and-sagas
Was woman made of man, or man of woman?
Is life numinous or are we mere automaton?

If the latter, then what keeps the ‘forces’ unified?
So, no, it’s consummation: Being multiplied

Infinite times, so oneness with the infinite;
These are the themes ‘The Rainbow’ holds within it.

Ursula’s mental independence, elicited,
Makes her reject her pervert teacher Winifred,

As well as the women’s movement, brought to life
Solely by men’s weakness. Yet no wife,

She can’t find a man who’s free of stale bureaucracy;
Jul 10, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The fecund fecundity of Lawrence's fecund verbosity is enough to drive anyone to distraction. Paragraphs upon paragraphs describing a sunrise (or was it a sunset? I forget) apparently is the moment two protagonists make love in a field. You need the notes to tell you that. So much for the man who wrote the infamous 'Lady Chatterly'.

Almost as tedious a read as George Eliot.
Joshua Rhys
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Lawrence is a tough read. One chews through the pages of his books - sometimes with vigour and often with bafflement. While he is hard to read, he is even harder to write about. Yet, despite the thick language and often threadbare plot, there is a sense of exhilaration in The Rainbow. Underneath all of the claustrophobic intensity are strands of genius and genuine food for thought.

The language of The Rainbow is at once alien and alluring. To fully appreciate Lawrence I really think a reader must
Renee M
D. H. Lawrence bores me to tears. It's unfair, I know. He suffered a lot for his art. He contributed greatly to modern literature. He dabbled in taboos, such as women liking sex and not necessarily marriage. He wrote about same sex relationships. But he's just so darned redundant that I always want to hurl the book across the room before I fall into another Lawrence-induced-sleep-stupor. (Someone really needed to give the man a thesaurus. Honestly, I never want to see the word "fecund" again in ...more
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
D.H. Lawrence writes in the naturalist style but with a sensuousness that is unique. His prose is superb and he writes of despair but with enough hope so his books are not depressing. I would describe his work in the Rainbow and elsewhere as somewhere between an Emile Zola and John Steinbeck. Lawrence may write with more symbolism and intimacy but perhaps with less of the storytelling genius of a Steinbeck or the compassion of a Zola.

The Rainbow tells of several generations of the Brangwen famil
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the recipe for ‘The Rainbow.’ First take a pinch or two of Psychology and put it aside, on a large plate. Then, grate a sizeable piece of Philosophy into ramekins. Drizzle at least all of Humanity into a separate vessel. Now, take The Pathology of Existence, and slice it up into a mirepoix. Season it heavily with nebulousness. Finally, conflate all the above into one very big bowl and bake for at least ten hours. Peek inside and make sure the contents are dark, very dark. If so, remove t ...more
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
“Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity”
-Shelley's "Adonais"

The world, transfigured by Lawrence's work, here and in "Women in Love," appears as "a dome of many-coloured glass," only the "radiance" disappears from Eternity. The central epiphany that seems to structure Lawrence's work is the recognition of Eternity as a primordial womb of darkness containing all things. The world we experience is, then, a bubble of darkness on the surface of which play and
Jenny (Border Dweller)
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I sort of had the idea that I'd read The Rainbow during my culture-vulture phase as a student, so it was rather a pleasant surprise to realise I hadn't. I think D.H.Lawrence still has a status in the general public perception as a bit of a smut-monger; he is considered rather un-English in his liberal approach to sex and will forever be associated with the Lady Chatterley trial. I must say that the book covers and TV/film adaptations don't help!

However there could never be anything more English
Heather S. Jones
Oct 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-have-favorites
i love this book -- a seminal favorite! so organic initially in it's portrayal of people, the earth, and relationships and then there is this evolution of these creations as the generations pass -- new ideas, new freedom in their world, leading to stronger selves. i just love the thoughts on having children -- d.h. never had children and he's a man, nevertheless his insights into a woman's experience are so word perfect! here are some of my favorite snippets:

first, a short one:

"There was life o
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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 rel ...more

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Brangwen Family (2 books)
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“Why, oh why must one grow up, why must one inherit this heavy, numbing responsibility of living an undiscovered life? Out of the nothingness and the undifferentiated mass, to make something of herself! But what? In the obscurity and pathlessness to take a direction! But whither? How take even one step? And yet, how stand still? This was torment indeed, to inherit the responsibility of one’s own life.” 58 likes
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