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Called the most widely-read English novel of the twentieth century, D. H. Lawrence’s largely autobiographical Sons and Lovers tells the story of Paul Morel, a young artist growing into manhood in a British working-class community near the Nottingham coalfields. His mother Gertrude, unhappily married to Paul’s hard-drinking father, devotes all her energies to her son. They develop a powerful and passionate relationship, but eventually tensions arise when Paul falls in love with a girl and seeks to escape his family ties. Torn between his desire for independence and his abiding attachment to his loving but overbearing mother, Paul struggles to define himself sexually and emotionally through his relationships with two women—the innocent, old-fashioned Miriam Leivers, and the experienced, provocatively modern Clara Dawes. Heralding Lawrence’s mature period, Sons and Lovers vividly evokes the all-consuming nature of possessive love and sexual attraction. Lushly descriptive and deeply emotional, it is rich in universal truths about human relationships.
“THE BOTTOMS” succeeded to “Hell Row”. Hell Row was a block of thatched, bulging cottages that stood by the brookside on Greenhill Lane. There lived the colliers who worked in the little gin–pits two fields away. The brook ran under the alder trees, scarcely soiled by these small mines, whose coal was drawn to the surface by donkeys that plodded wearily in a circle round a gin. And all over the countryside were these same pits, some of which had been worked in the time of Charles II, the few colliers and the donkeys burrowing down like ants into the earth, making queer mounds and little black places among the corn–fields and the meadows. And the cottages of these coal–miners, in blocks and pairs here and there, together with odd farms and homes of the stockingers, straying over the parish, formed the village of Bestwood.
Then, some sixty years ago, a sudden change took place, gin–pits were elbowed aside by the large mines of the financiers. The coal and iron field of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire was discovered. Carston, Waite and Co. appeared. Amid tremendous excitement, Lord Palmerston formally opened the company’s first mine at Spinney Park, on the edge of Sherwood Forest.
About this time the notorious Hell Row, which through growing old had acquired an evil reputation, was burned down, and much dirt was cleansed away.