“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”
Among many other things, DH Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover from 1928 is a novel of the First World War, its aftermath and its legacy. For tonight’s story I have recorded its introductory chapter. Speaking of good quotes, LCL is chock full of them. Here are two more for your reading pleasure:
“There’s lots of good fish in the sea…maybe…but the vast masses seem to be mackerel or herring, and if you’re not mackerel or herring yourself, you are likely to find very few good fish in the sea.”
“Sex and a cocktail: they both lasted about as long, had the same effect, and amounted to the same thing.”
From “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, by DH Lawrence [22:40]
This story has always seemed to me like a textbook example of Ernest Hemingway’s “iceberg theory” of literature. Hemingway described his approach to writing as follows in his book Death in the Afternoon:
If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing.
You can hear my reading of this story from last March in German translation here:
This essay, first published in February 1946, is one of several Orwell wrote about the little things of life, like cigarettes, a proper cup of tea and good, wholesome English food. Taken by themselves, these things seem trivial enough, but, taken together, they add up to a world worth living in. If you refer to Orwell’s later novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, you’ll note that it is precisely the destruction of these small quotidian pleasures – combined with an oppressive surveillance state and constant warfare – that transforms daily life into an unmitigated hell. As The Moon Under Water goes, so goes humanity…
P.G. Wodehouse might well have been right about how photogenic he was or wasn’t, but the way he looked certainly didn’t make his books, short stories and essays any less funny and popular. In fact, the goofy look is part of the Wodehouse charm, don’t you think?
I practically grew up with science fiction author Ray Bradbury, whose books I devoured all through school. Alongside Fahrenheit 451 and a number of his stories, I think Dandelion Wine, first published in 1957, is his finest work. And it contains almost no science fiction at all! All I have to do is crack the cover and I feel like a little boy on summer vacation again. Now I’m not a little boy anymore, and I’m not exactly on summer vacation, but we’ve got summer in Berlin too. That’s reason enough to record a few excerpts of it for the Berlin Short Fiction Podcast over the coming sweltering weeks.