I finished this book, number 12 on the all time best, English fiction list. It had a slow start, but in the end, profoundly insightful and moving.
In a nutshell,
Woman meets an attractive man at a dance. Marries him a year later. He is a miner who's life depressed the hell out of him. He becomes an alcoholic shell. His wife's knight becomes the night to her.
She seeks her life through her kids, especially a son named Paul. She becomes obsessed with Paul, and creates a co-dependency of convenience.
There is an invisible force-field, between Paul and the women that he loves. He has no insight why his love torments himself and the women, yet, he can not have them.
His mother dies . . . he dies emotionally. One of the women who loves him too dies (emotionally), because Paul can only be a shell without his mother.
His relationship was never incestuous with his mother on a physical front, but certainly it was on an emotional one.
Here is some of the brilliant writing of Lawrence, the very last page of the book. This was some time, maybe a few years after the death of his mother. On this night he ran into one of the women he loved so dearly but could not have (and she remained faithful to him for years without ever seeing him again). The hope at the end (and it isn't clear) that he returns to find her.
Notice the desperation of the soul without God . . that which attempts to live in the impersonal universe. Paul gave up all belief in God at an early age.
(I will type fast so pardon the typos)
In the country all was dead still. Little stars shone high up; little stars pread far away in the flood-waters, a firmament below. Everywhere the vastness and terror of the immense night which is roused and stirred for a brief while by the day, but which returns, and will remain at last eternal, holding everything in its silence and its living gloom. There was no Time, only Space. Who could say his mother had lived and did not live? She had been in one place, and was in another; that was all. And his soul could not leave her, wherever she was. Now she was gone abroad into the night, and he was with her still. They were together. But yet there was his body, his chest, that leaned against the stile, his hands on the wooden bar. They seemed something. Where was he?-one tiny upright speck of flesh, less than an ear of wheat lost in the field. He could not bear it. On every side the immense dark silence seemed pressing him, so tiny a spark, into extinction, and yet, almost nothing, he could not be extinct. Night, in which everything was lost, went reaching out, beyond starts and sun. Stars and sun, a few bright grains, went spinning round for terror, and holding each other in embrace, there in a darkness that outpassed them all, and left them tiny and daunted. So much, and himself, infinitesimal, at the core a nothing-ness, and yet not nothing.
"Mother!" he whispered--"Mother!"
She was the only thing that held him up, himself, amid all this. And she was gone, intermingled herself. He wanted her to touch him, have him alongside with her.
But no, he would not give in. Turning sharply, he walked towards the city's gold phosphorescence. His fists were shut, his mouth set fast. He would not take that direction, to the darkness, to follow her. He walked towards the faintly humming, glowing town, quickly.
Now, think about this. Because this book described sexual activity between non-married people (in R-rated language) this work was banned by the Church and in Europe and America when it first came out in 1910. They were all idiots. These are God's words. Written, not as infallible scripture, but as the observations of a mortal man with a genius insight and word-craftsmanship that touches were few can. What insight to the fall of man, and the human condition. What evangelism into the want of atheism, what hope in the strain of darkness.