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Amber Paulen

Development of a Sentence

After following Lady Chatterley’s Lover with The First Lady Chatterley, I bought John Thomas and Lady Jane, DH Lawrence’s second draft. To read the development of the text is fascinating and even light study pays off with the succession of advancing sentences and ideas. If I find great fun sitting with an accordion of three open books on my lap, then I know I’ve struck an obsession.

For instance, when Mrs. Bolton spies Parkin/ Mellors standing near Wragby at dawn like a love-sick dog standing eternally outside the house of his inamorata; or like a male dog sickly waiting outside the house of the bitch; or like a love-sick male dog outside the house where the bitch is! But first Mrs. Bolton slightly draws back the curtains of Clifford’s room:

As she silently drew back the curtains, […].

In The First Lady Chatterley the thought commences a paragraph, brief, a motion hardly worth noting. Yet is is a major discovery for Mrs. Bolton, learning Lady Chatterley’s Lover is Parkin/Mellors.

But he did not see Mrs. Bolton come to the window and draw back the old dark-blue silk curtains, and stand herself looking out, looking for the longed-for dawn, waiting, waiting, waiting for Clifford to be assured that it was really daybreak.

In this one sentence DH Lawrence takes the action from Parkin outside the house and gives it to Mrs. Bolton; accomplished rather clunkily in the first draft, and in many more sentences. To finally:

But he did not see Mrs. Bolton come to the window and draw back the old curtains of dark-blue silk, and stand herself in the dark room, looking out on the half-dark of the approaching day, looking for the longed-for dawn, waiting, waiting for Clifford to be really re-assured that it was daybreak.

The repetition of “dark” and “looking” and “waiting” and “day” creates a cadence previously missing. Mrs. Bolton’s longing for dawn and Parkin/Mellor’s longing for Lady Chatterley in the room upstairs merge to expand the moment. The imagery is firmer, the space of the grey light is almost tangible between them. The moment increases its voluptuousness with each subsequent draft.

And all this is to mention nothing about the development of DH Lawrence’s Ideas (something I’ll save for later). Careful study of the three texts back-to-back would reveal a near-exact surmise of what DH Lawrence strove to say with his final novel. When I go from room to room cradling these three books, I feel as if I have been charged with the great writer’s brain.

It’s impossible to say where Lady Chatterley and her troop of drafts is going with me. They seem to be set on a cycle, and perhaps I’m doomed to repeat Connie and Clifford and Parkin/Mellors until I have their innards spread succinctly on the operating table. A divine way to occupy rainy days, I must add.


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