I’m reading a book entitled The Lost Girl by DH Lawrence. Bearing in mind that this book was published in 1920 I was, as usual, amazed with Lawrence’s insight on marital issues.
Why, in the name of all prosperity, should every class but the lowest in such a society hang overburdened with Dead Sea fruit of odd women, unmarried, unmarriageable women, called old maids?
Why is it that every tradesman, every school-master, every bank-manager, and every clergyman produces one, two, three or more old maids? Do the middle-classes, particularly the lower middle-classes, give birth to more girls than boys? Or do the lower middle-class men assiduously climb up or down, in marriage, thus leaving their true partners stranded? Or are middle-class women very squeamish in their choice of husbands?
By the way, this is a novel, but like a lot of Lawrence’s novels, there are parts in The Lost Girl which read like social discourse.
The second paragraph I quoted doesn’t sound like it was written almost 100 years ago. However, there is a big difference today. Well-educated, middle-class women can afford to be “squeamish” in their choice of husbands. One thing which Lawrence probably didn’t conceive in his mind, are middle class bachelors who are equally unmarried and unmarriageable. Instead of assiduously climbing up or down the social ladder, they look beyond their shores for brides after being left stranded by their “true partners”.
Classics are classics because they still make a lot of sense when interpreted in present terms. They are never easy to read, but they add depth and more meaning to the reading experience. If some of our contemporary award winners could be written like DH Lawrence’s, I would gladly buy and read them.
Photos by Taiwanese photographer 阿發