Monday, February 13, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #8 The Fox

The only DH Lawrence I ever read before tackling this book was "The Rocking-horse Winner", an odd little story about love that borders on the Oedipal and luck that borders on insanity. While I could write a paper about it, I'm still not sure I get it. When I tell people that they just say, "That's Lawrence for you."

When I started The Fox I had "The Rocking-horse Winner" in mind, however, I wasn't really ready for the whole story and these plot synopses gave no indication as to what I was getting into.

Here's the breakdown from Wikipedia:
The Fox is a novella by D. H. Lawrence published in 1923. Set in Berkshire, England during World War I, The Fox, like many of D. H. Lawrence’s other major works, treats the psychological relationships of three protagonists in a triangle of love and hatred. Without the help of any male laborers, Nellie March and Jill Banford struggle to maintain a marginal livelihood at the Bailey Farm. A fox has raged through the poultry, and although the women—particularly the more masculine Nellie—have tried to shoot the intruder, he seems always to elude traps or gunshot.
and Goodreads:
The Fox (1923) is a short novella by D.H. Lawrence that is set in the Berkshire district of England in 1918, just after the First World War. Two women, Branford and March, both in their thirties and unmarried, live together on an isolated farm. One day, like a fox, a man enters their farm and lives. Lawrence uses the fox as a symbol of masculinity and through it explores male sexuality.
The Fox is down right sexy. I hear from those of you that know Lawrence that in his misogyny he can be pretty sexual. I read about March and Banford and thought, "Well, are they? Aren't they? Will they?" I was drawn to March and her battle with the fox in the hen house. And, then I was drawn to the fox, in the form of Henry, in the hen house. Every description left him more attractive than the next. Every description of March, though his eyes, makes her more beautiful and, dare I say, more feminine. The more the narrator refers to her trousers and her eyes and her neck and her boots and her legs in a dress, the more Banford shrinks and became a tiny, shriveled screw. The more the reader sees March as sexy too. Even the barren farm with its chickens and lack of cow seems inviting and sensual.

And, the whole entire triangle is reminiscent of the triangle in Ethan Frome and I can't decide which character I feel more sympathy towards. Heck, I can't tell if the women are supposed to be lovers supplanted by the boy, I can't tell if things had ended differently if March would have felt differently, I can't tell if March loves the boy, I can't tell if the boy really loves March and while there isn't out and out sex, there's this neck kiss that left me a little breathless and there's this confrontation between Banford, March and Henry that was just one step shy of a full sex encounter, although no one took off their clothes and everyone was very angry. In the end I can't tell if Henry is still the fox or if March is still the strong one. I can't tell if this book is pro love, or anti-feminist.

But, hey, that's Lawrence for you.

4 Stars   
I was entranced by this book and the story and Lawrence's writing style, but when it ended and I caught my breath I felt a little let-down, I'm not really sure by what.

You can read the whole novella here.

Read the novella and feeling frustrated? Check out these lovely reviews.
The Reading Life
Tony Crisp

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting... I haven't read this but I'm intrigued by the fact you are still unsure of it all.



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