The Rainbow

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For other uses, see Rainbow (disambiguation).
The Rainbow
Rainbowcover.jpg
Author D. H. Lawrence
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Modern Library
Publication date
1915[1]
Media type Print
Pages 467
Preceded by Sons and Lovers
Followed by Women in Love

The Rainbow is a 1915 novel by British author D. H. Lawrence. It follows three generations of the Brangwen family living in Nottinghamshire,[2] particularly focusing on the individual's struggle to growth and fulfilment within the confining strictures of English social life.

Plot[edit]

The Rainbow tells the story of three generations of the Brangwen family, a farm/ labouring dynasty who live in the East Midlands of England near Nottingham. The book spans a period of roughly 65 years from the 1840s to 1905, and shows how the love relationships of the Brangwens change against the backdrop of the increasing industrialisation of Britain. The first central character, Tom Brangwen, is a farmer whose experience of the world does not stretch beyond Nottinghamshire; while the last, Ursula, his granddaughter, studies at University and becomes a teacher in the progressively urbanised, capitalist and industrial world that would become our modern experience.

The book starts with a description of the Brangwen dynasty, then deals with how Tom Brangwen, one of several brothers, fell in love with a Polish refugee, Lydia. The next part of the book deals with Lydia's daughter by her first husband, Anna, and her destructive, battle-riven relationship with her husband, Will, the son of one of Tom's brothers. The last and most extended part of the book, and also probably the most famous, then deals with Will and Anna's daughter, Ursula, and her struggle to find fulfilment for her passionate, spiritual and sensual nature against the confines of the increasingly materialist and conformist society around her. She experiences a lesbian relationship with a teacher, and a passionate but ultimately doomed love affair with Anton Skrebensky, a British soldier of Polish ancestry. At the end of the book, having failed to find her fulfilment in Skrebensky, she has a vision of a rainbow towering over the Earth, promising a new dawn for humanity:

"She saw in the rainbow the earth's new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven."

Censorship[edit]

Lawrence's frank treatment of sexual desire and the power it plays within relationships as a natural and even spiritual force of life, though perhaps tame by modern standards, caused The Rainbow to be prosecuted in an obscenity trial in late 1915, as a result of which all copies were seized and burnt. After this ban it was unavailable in Britain for 11 years, although editions were available in the USA.

Sequel[edit]

The Rainbow was followed by a sequel in 1920, Women in Love. Although Lawrence conceived of the two novels as one, considering the titles The Sisters and The Wedding Ring for the work, they were published as two separate novels at the urging of his publisher. However, after the negative public reception of The Rainbow, Lawrence's publisher opted out of publishing the sequel.

Ursula's spiritual and emotional quest continues in Women in Love, in which she continues to be a main character. This second work follows her into a relationship with Rupert Birkin (often seen as a self-portrait by Lawrence), and follows her sister, Gudrun's parallel relationship with Birkin's friend, Gerald Crich.

Adaptations[edit]

In 1989, the novel was adapted into the UK film The Rainbow, directed by Ken Russell who also directed the 1969 adaptation Women in Love. In 1988, the BBC produced a television adaptation directed by Stuart Burge with Imogen Stubbs in the role of Ursula Brangwen.

Further reading[edit]

Editions[edit]

Letters[edit]

  • The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, ed. James Boulton and others, 7 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979–93).

Biography[edit]

  • Delany, Paul, D. H. Lawrence's Nightmare: The Writer and his Circle in the Years of the Great War (Hassocks, Sussex: Harvester Press,1979)
  • Kincaid-Weekes, Mark, D H Lawrence: Triumph to Exile, 1912 – 1922 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996 )

Criticism[edit]

  • Beynon, Richard, The Rainbow and Women in Love ( Cambridge: Icon Books) 1997
  • Clarke, Colin (ed.), D. H. Lawrence: The Rainbow and Women in Love: A Casebook (London: Macmillan, 1969),
  • Holderness, Graham, D. H. Lawrence: History, Ideology and Fiction (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1982).
  • Ingram, Allan, The Language of D. H. Lawrence (London: Macmillan, 1990).
  • Kinkead-Weekes, Mark, The Marble and the Statue: The Exploratory Imagination of D. H. Lawrence, in Maynard Mack and lan Gregor (eds.), Imagined Worlds: Essays in Honour of John Butt (London: Methuen, 1968), 371–418.
  • Kinkead-Weekes, Mark, The Marriage of Opposites in The Rainbow, in Mara Kalnins (ed.), D. H. Lawrence: Centenary Essays (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1986), 21–39.
  • Kinkead-Weekes, Mark, 'The Sense of History in The Rainbow', in Peter Preston and Peter Hoare (eds.), D. H. Lawrence in the Modern World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 121–38.
  • Leavis, F. R., D H Lawrence: Novelist (London: Chatto and Windus, 1955)
  • Leavis, F. R., Thought, Words and Creativity: Art and Thought in Lawrence (London: Chatto and Windus, 1976)
  • Meyers, Jeffrey (ed.), D. H. Lawrence and Tradition (London: Athlone Press, 1985).
  • Meyers, Jeffrey (ed.), The Legacy of D. H. Lawrence: New Essays (London: Macmillan, 1987).
  • Mudrick, Marvin, The Originality of The Rainbow in Harry T Moore (ed.) A D. H. Lawrence Miscellany (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1959).
  • Pinkney, Tony, D. H. Lawrence (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990).
  • Ross, Charles L., The Revisions of the Second Generation in The Rainbow, Review of English Studies, 27 (1976), 277–95.
  • Ross, Charles L The Composition of (The Rainbow' and Women in Love: A History (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1979).
  • Sanders, Scott, D. H. Lawrence: The World of the Major Novels (London: Vision Press, 1973).
  • Simpson, Hilary, D. H. Lawrence and Feminism (London: Groom Helm, 1982).
  • Smith, Anne (ed.), Lawrence and Women (London: Vision Press, 1978).

References[edit]

External links[edit]