BOOK REVIEW- D. H. LAWRENCE – THE VIRGIN AND THE GYPSY 1930 Various editions.
A Lawrence story that wasn’t published until after his death, and with many editions mis-spelling Gypsy as Gipsy.
This is quite a tame, and, despite the promise of its title, rather unisexual story for Lawrence. It deals with oppressive family values and social prejudice.
When his wife gets involved in a terrible social scandal, a respected village vicar draws his entire family close in a binding, puritanical bond, with the household dominated by the blind, toad-like grandmother.
Yvette is sent to stay with the family as soon as she finishes boarding school, and quickly finds the strict regime stifling. Like her sister, Lucille, she does everything she can to improve her situation, using money stolen from the family savings to treat herself to stockings, etc. When the girls get out and meet a family of gypsies, Yvette develops a strong crush on the male head of the travelling folk, and meets him at every opportunity.
The family seem more shocked by her friendship with a Jewish couple, shamelessly living nearby in sin, and as man and wife, though not actually married.
Throughout the story, Yvette is warned about the dangers presented by water, and at the novella’s conclusion, a dam bursts and the village is flooded. The gypsy saves Yvette and they spend the night naked in the vicarage, where the blind grandmother has drowned. They struggle to stay warm, and remove clothes to save themselves from hypothermia, but it is never made clear whether or not they make love. When Yvette wakes up to find rescuers coming to get her the Gypsy has left her forever. When he sends a polite letter, signed with his name, Joe Boswell, (its only mention), his mystique is shattered, and no indication is given of Yvette’s future.
A slow story, devoid of the passion or energy of Lady Chatterley or some of Lawrence’s greater works, but the sense of family oppression is superb.
A dull film version was made in 1970, starring Joanna Shimkus and Franco Nero.
THE VIRGIN & THE GYPSY ON WIKIPEDIA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Virgin_and_the_Gypsy