Great puddingy thighs in black pudding-cloth, or lean wooden sticks in black funeral stuff

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(page 375, chapter 17) by Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(background: The following is talking about Connie's father, Malcolm, and his thighs, and all men's thighs……)

She looked at the men in the stalls. Great puddingy thighs in black pudding-cloth, or lean wooden sticks in black funeral stuff, or well-shaped young legs without any meaning whatever, either sensuality or tenderness or sensitiveness, just mere leggy ordinariness that pranced around. Not even any sensuality like her father’s. They were all daunted, daunted out of existence.

The sentence is really hard for me to understand. How should I understand it please?
Now I try to rephrase is as:
Big(=great) pudding-like(=puddingy) thighs in black cloth wrapping outside pudding(=pudding-cloth), or thin(=lean) in black funeral stuff(I totally don't know what it is), or good-looking(=well-shaped) young legs without any meaning, whatever( the meaning is), either sensuality or tenderness or sensitiveness, (they are) just pure(=mere) ordinary legs that jumped around(=pranced around)

Thank you in advance
 
  • pines222

    Member
    English - USA
    This is complicated for a non-English speaker - many of these phases are meant not to be taken literally but are metaphors of three types of mens' leg shapes, and the phrases are meant to provide additional emotional meaning

    "Big pudding-like thighs in black pudding-cloth" - a methapor implying thick, flabby legs. "Pudding" is the key word in this phrase, and pudding is thought of as having mushy, gelatin-like consistency. "Pudding cloth" is a type of cloth, which is used in traditional methods to make English puddings. It does not mean that men were literally wearing pudding cloth. It is meant to reinforce the emotional meaning of flabby, mushy legs wrapped in cloth.

    "Lean wooden sticks in black funeral stuff" - "lean wooden sticks" = thin legs. The reference is to "funeral stuff" is meant to convey formal wear with an emotional meaning of death.

    "Well-shaped young legs without any meaning whatever" - youthful, muscular legs. "whatever" as used in this example emphasizes the lack of meaning.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    mushy, gelatin-like consistency
    Not British puddings.

    I imagine the puddings DHL had in mind were the sort that were a soft dough made with suet, rolled up over the filling, into a roughly cylindrical shape, and boiled until cooked. That's how my mother made her bacon and onion roly-poly puddings, and - wrapped up as they were in a muslin pudding-cloth - they could with a great stretch of the imagination be said to resemble a podgy human limb.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    These 'puddings' are not mushy and gelatinous - they are more like cannon balls depending what they're made with. Suet dough wrapped in a muslin pudding cloth and steamed for several hours. We do call dessert 'pudding', as a sort of generic term.
    Oh yes, I had forgotten about the sausage shaped savoury or sweet ones, the roly-polys, which I made a couple of times a hundred years ago, just for the sake of it, cooking my way through the whole book.
    :)
    Oh gosh! I would love some steak-and- kidney pudding right now.
     
    Last edited:

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Lawrence voices his own heavily symbolic leg imagery, through Connie, who seems to be in some sort of prolonged post-coital ecstasy after the revelations of the last night with Mellors.
    Earlier in the novel, Mellors was talking about how there are no more real men and how, in his utopian vision, there will be real men with lovely legs clad in red and tight buttocks. And how, when the women see the men's lovely red legs and buttocks there will be real women again. (Don't ask me- I didn't write this stuff!)

    Lawrence seems to be viewing legs as symbols: stems, stalks, or even the trunks of trees, up through which the life-force and energy flows from their contact with Earth. It's as if Mellors has initiated Connie into some mystic world, the 'mysteries' or secret rites of pagan religion, so often involving sex, serious fun and fertility. Now, she sees her world and everybody in it from a totally different perspective, as if she and Mellors shared a secret that nobody else knew about.

    Don't forget that her husband Sir Clifford 'had no legs'.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you so much.
    "Well-shaped young legs without any meaning whatever" - youthful, muscular legs. "whatever" as used in this example emphasizes the lack of meaning.
    Based on your interpretation, I feel whatever here acts as an adv, similar to at all in not……at all. Is it right please?

    And I'm still not clear about the subject of well-shaped young legs without any meaning whatever, either sensuality or tenderness or sensitiveness, just mere leggy ordinariness that pranced around .
    Now I rephrase this part as:
    well-shaped young legs without any meaning at all(=whatever): no sensuality meaning, no tenderness meaning, and no sensitiveness meaning, but they(=well-shaped young legs without any meaning) were simply thin-legged(=leggy) ordinariness(meaning not as excellent as Mellors' legs) that sprang forward (proudly).

    Could you please give me some further interpretations?
     
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