Lawrence's finest, most mature novel initially met with disgust and incomprehension. In the love affairs of two sisters, Ursula with Rupert, and Gudrun with Gerald, critics could only see a sorry tale of sexual depravity and philosophical obscurity. Women in Love is, however, a profound response to a whole cultural crisis. The 'progress' of the modern industrialised world had led to the carnage of the First World War.
What, then, did it mean to call ourselves 'human'? On what grounds could we place ourselves above and beyond the animal world? What are the definitive forms of our relationships - love, marriage, family, friendship - really worth? And how might they be otherwise? Without directly referring to the war, Women in Love explores these questions with restless energy. As a sequel to The Rainbow, the novel develops experimental techniques which made Lawrence one of the most important writers of the Modernist movement.