Briefly appearing in 1915, then banned and taken out of circulation for its adult treatment of sexuality, Lawrence's visionary novel The Rainbow
attempts to situate the lives of three generations of the Brangwen family within the continuous social change marking the Victorian transformation of Britain. Farmer Tom and his Polish wife Lydia, whose peaceful rural existence re-enacts the potent myths of Genesis; artisan Will and the matriarch Anna, who go to live among the industrial and mining communities so rapidly sprung up around Nottingham; finally the restless Ursula who, moving to the city, seeks sexual and emotional fulfilment with the Polish-descended Skrebensky — the three couples are not merely illustrative of the changing times, but allow the author to study in depth the conflict between the outer 'social' selves of those individuals and what he curiously calls the 'inhuman' essential being, the 'is-ness' at the core of their psychical life.
Lawrence evokes this dark, unconscious 'vital core' through a language of breathtaking poetic beauty; a rhythmic incantatory prose which listeners to this recording will find perfectly rendered by Tony Foster, in all its nuances. Like Paul Morel, the hero of the earlier Sons and Lovers
, Ursula survives her losses to face a future of uncertain but radiant hope: «She saw in the rainbow the earth's new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven.»
(Summary by Martin Geeson)