they had that pull over their jigging English sisters

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: Connie was staying in London with her father and sister.But she was not happy in London. Then in Paris she felt ……)

How weary they were! weary, worn-out for lack of a little tenderness, given and taken. The efficient, sometimes charming women knew a thing or two about the sensual realities: they had that pull over their jigging English sisters. But they knew even less of tenderness.

Could you tell me how should I comprehend this sentence please?
I feel efficient a little strange in this context(because it mainly goes with workers). And the sencond half they had that pull over their jigging English sisters is totally beyond my comprehention
Thank you in advance
 
  • goldenband

    Senior Member
    English - American
    It's not entirely clear to me exactly who Lawrence means by "efficient, sometimes charming women". The simplest explanation would be that he's referring to prostitutes, who were (I believe) far more visible in Parisian life than in England, and whose "efficiency" could be seen as a combination of sexual skill and an unapologetic willingness to get right to the point of their work (rather than engaging in elaborate social rituals to cover up what they actually do, i.e. have sex for money).

    However, he may also mean a more general French/Parisian willingness to be sexual -- again, without engaging in elaborate rituals to hide their sexuality under some more socially acceptable framework. And I think this is where "jigging" may come in: Lawrence is, I think, essentially saying something like "English women dance instead of having sex, but French women know how [and are willing] to actually have sex".

    But it's all empty because there's no (or not enough) "tenderness" given or taken: it's all loveless, in other words.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    There was a previous reference to these Frenchwomen:
    and still not sufficiently Americanized or Londonized to hide the weariness under a mechanical jig-jig-jig!

    Maybe DHL the coal-miner's son has memories of the jigging machine. I prefer a "pulsating jig of the machine" theory to the "dancing" theory.

    Jig
    - A machine in which the feed is stratified in water by means of a pulsating motion and from which the stratified products are separately removed, the pulsating motion being usually obtained by alternate upward and downward currents of the water. Also called washbox.
    Coal Excise Tax - Appendix I, Glossary of Mining Terms
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    It's not entirely clear to me exactly who Lawrence means by "efficient, sometimes charming women". The simplest explanation would be that he's referring to prostitutes, who were (I believe) far more visible in Parisian life than in England, and whose "efficiency" could be seen as a combination of sexual skill and an unapologetic willingness to get right to the point of their work (rather than engaging in elaborate social rituals to cover up what they actually do, i.e. have sex for money).
    he may also mean a more general French/Parisian willingness to be sexual
    That's really interesting. But I tend to think the first one is more likely.

    But I feel the that pull in they had that pull over their jigging English sisters means the influence. Is that right please?
    And what was the sensual realities that the efficient charming women know about?
     

    goldenband

    Senior Member
    English - American
    These are tricky questions!

    That's really interesting. But I tend to think the first one is more likely.
    It's very difficult to say. Like so much in Lawrence, it's vague -- intentionally so, in all likelihood. I don't think it's unreasonable to take it as a composite impression of the entire city, which would include sex workers and "ordinary" people, but it may well be targeted specifically at French sex workers.

    But I feel the that pull in they had that pull over their jigging English sisters means the influence. Is that right please?
    That's a very natural assumption, but I don't think it's correct. Here, I believe "pull" is something closer to "allure", "attraction", "appeal", or "advantage". Their knowledge of the "sensual realities" makes them more appealing or alluring in comparison to their English sisters -- gives them more "pull".

    And what were the sensual realities that the efficient charming women know about?
    It's not clear. French prostitutes were well-known in the rest of Europe for their (alleged?) willingness to perform oral intercourse, so it could be as simple as that: Lawrence may be using very vague, flowery language to point to a specific sexual act (as he does elsewhere in Chatterley). Their "efficiency", in this context, would be their ability to quickly offer sexual satisfaction to a man.

    But, on the other hand, it could simply mean that French women, and/or French prostitutes, are more skillful in general in the arts of lovemaking (both sexual and romantic) -- and take more pleasure in it than their "English sisters", for many of whom the sexual act is empty and mechanical.

    (All this according to Lawrence by way of Connie, of course, so be sure to treat it with skepticism!)
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Maybe 'proficient' is as good a word. French women were more proficient in the 'art of love', or sexual techniques, according to general opinion. I can't see any reason for thinking Connie's talking about prostitutes, not that I'm going to argue about it and what does it matter.
     
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