Why is it great? For “Controversy Week” on Storyboard, I chose a sentence from one of the most controversial books of the 20th century. “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” was shocking on so many levels when it was written: for a woman’s infidelity to her husband; for the pleasure she took in that infidelity; and for the class barriers she crossed en route to that pleasure. (Oh, and the novel’s use of an Anglo-Saxon word for the pleasurable activity must have been head-spinning at the time.) In my reading up on the publication drama of the book, I came across this tidbit, which I love. Apparently the Penguin second edition — published in 1961, a full 30 years after it was written, and only after a court battle — is prefaced with this: “For having published this book, Penguin Books was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, 1959 at the Old Bailey in London from 20 October to 2 November 1960. This edition is therefore dedicated to the twelve jurors, three women and nine men, who returned a verdict of ‘not guilty’ and thus made D. H. Lawrence’s last novel available for the first time to the public in the United Kingdom.” Oh, and about the greatness of the line itself? The repetition of the words “live” and “life” is wonderful, almost making it an existential anagram.

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