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Aaron's Rod (1976)

Aaron's Rod (1976)

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3.08 of 5 Votes: 5
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0140007555 (ISBN13: 9780140007558)
penguin books

About book Aaron's Rod (1976)

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 in vain for his own hat. The bomb had fallen near the stand where he had hung it and his overcoat. 'My hat and coat?' he said to Lilly." And then Lawrence describes a "crowd of excited angry men. . . wrestling over overcoats that were mixed up with a broken marble table-top." Really? A bomb goes off any everyone starts freaking out about their hats and coats? How very English. The best thing I can say about this novel is that it sharpened my reasons for why I do not like Lawrence. It may be the only good thing. At least with The Rainbow, there were some lovely passages. Aaron Sisson, a working class man, quits his job and leaves his wife and children in the beginning of the novel. His reason? His plans? Well, beyond playing his flute, even Aaron is not sure. When asked, he has no answer. This brings me to my first issue with Lawrence. He liked to write characters who lack self-awareness. They "feel," but they don't understand why they feel. They just ooze feelings left and right, moving from one extreme to another, with no attempt to make sense of it all. Which brings me to my next issue.Love and hate are the same thing to Lawrence. Well to his characters anyway. No one can say they love someone without immediately saying that they also hate the person. Hate? Really? The drama, jeez.Most of the book, Aaron finds himself in the company of upper-class types who sit around and debate various issues. Intellectual discussion is one thing, but these characters just seem to enjoy crying about the things that make them unhappy. They wallow in torment, whether it be how the war torments them, or class conflicts, or politics, or sex. And boy oh boy does sex torment them. There are a number of discussions between the men about sex and how women ruin sex by initiating it, that women use sex to get control of men, that the only good sex is when women are submissive and men are the only initiators. Yeah, that discussion wiped away any good will toward Lawrence I may have had (what little was left after LCL anyway). Aaron has sex a few times in the book and each time, he hates the woman afterward and blames her for his lust. Good ole misogyny. The misogyny in the book gets worse, with a grand scene where a group of men really get their lady-bashing in over tea and crumpets. "Terrible thing, the modern woman" one says. That was just the most convenient sound byte, but it's the essence of the whole scene. I knew straightaway that the flute was a phallic symbol. And it's no coincidence that Aaron's children were both girls and that the one scene they are given, they are greedy and destructive. The message I got from the book parallels the message I got from LCL, that women need a man to give them a life's purpose and that a man's best tool in this endeavor is his dick.Hey Lawrence, suck mine.

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 character, in fact I didn't really take to any of them. This may sound negative, but quite the opposite, I did enjoy reading it, but also have to confess that I've been glad to finish it.

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Free download available at Project Gutenberg.Quotations:"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, not try to spread himself over humanity. He should pivot himself on his own pride.Love was a battle in which each party strove for the mastery of the other's soul. So far, man had yielded the mastery to woman. Now he was fighting for it back again. And too late, for the woman would never yield.Like the Invisible Man, we are only revealed through our clothes and our masks.Give thyself, but give thyself not away. That is the lesson written at the end of the long strange lane of love.5* Women in Love4* Sons and lovers5* Lady Chatterley's Lover4* The Rainbow 3* The Fox3* The Virgin and the Gipsy3* The Prussian Officer3* Daughters of the Vicar3* The White Stocking3* England, My England4* The Ladybird3* The Captain's Doll3* The Plumed Serpent3* Aaron's RodTBR The TrespasserTBR Studies in Classic American Literature

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 friends. He follows him off to Europe and the rest of the novel takes place in Florence, Italy.He's a seeker---but he is not sure what it is his spirit needs.I love Lawrence's descriptive ability--so well lit and decorative. His parade of characters are all quirky (apparently he based them on people he knew and some wanted to sue him).The ennui here is stultifying--the general malaise of the lost generation after World War I permeates the book. But the philosophical discussions are intriguing. Sisson is the binoculars on the expats and minor nobility living in European cafes and tidy salons discussing music, life in general and love. Their lives marginally interesting-- and the real world seems to barely intrude--save at the end.Not my favorite Lawrence but worth the read.
—Arabella Thorne

A bitter picaresque novel that follows Aaron Sisson, a flouter and flautist, who abruptly leaves his family on a Christmas Eve shortly after the end of the first World War. Aaron travels about England and Italy among the well-to-do, earning his way playing his flute, casting a cynical eye on the world, and always striving to be apart and alone in his heart. He disdains modern conceptions of love and any type of dependence. I could empathize with Aaron, though his almost manic separatist resolve bordered on the misanthropic. The idea of pushing away from all forms of societal structure, to shun others expectations and float on fate to find your core, your center, has an appealing quality. However, I think that ultimate end leads to an inner isolation that strips away the essence of being human. I enjoyed Lawrence's style though I found some of the vaporous philosophical banter among the characters to be tedious.
—Scott Gillespie

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