A passage from D.H. Lawrence’s formerly-banned novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Blacktip Bibliophile Society scuba divers will copy the complete text of the novel in the sand off Diddley’s Landing public pier during the coming months. (photo courtesy of Silas Mariner)
In conjunction with Blacktip Island dive operators, scuba-certified literature enthusiasts will transcribe the complete text of D.H. Lawrence’s classic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the sand at one of the island’s dive sites during the coming months.
“We’ll be doing a page per day, weather permitting, so we should be done with the whole thing by mid-August or so,” Blacktip Bibliophile Society president Silas Mariner said. “We’re hoping to dispel the notion that scuba divers are a bunch of party-hearty Neanderthals. It will give a sense of culture, of gravitas to diving. The passages will be done by two-person teams—one person to hold the laminated page, and one to write with a boat hook.
“The club voted on which classic novel to transcribe, and it came down to Lady Chatterley or Jude the Obscure,” Mariner said. “But Jude is just so damned depressing, we worried it would scare divers away. With Lady Chatterley, we reckon divers will be fighting to get to the site.”
Group members said the project presents some unexpected difficulties.
“You’ve got to have spot-on buoyancy to print the letters and not erase others with your fin kicks,” Christina Mojarra said. “And we can’t write on windy days because the surge erases the words as fast as you can print them.
“Conchs are an issue, too” Mojarra said. “And stingrays play pure hell with the text. But the little gobies add some cool diacritics, so that’s fun. We photograph each ‘page’ as we go so there’s a record.”
Some on the island are concerned about legal issues.
“That book’s still banned in lots of places,” resident John Thomas said. “I already called Marine Parks, asked them to get an underwater censor down there so make sure Silas and them aren’t scribbling smut all over the sea floor This isn’t that kind of island. We’ll be sending our own divers down, as needed, to erase any and all naughty bits.”
Legal authorities say the transcription poses little legal risk.
“There’s only a few words in the text that fit the definition of indecency,” local attorney Ferris Skerritt said. “The book’s legal to sell and possess in the Tiperons, so it really depends on who sees the dodgy words in the sand and what they do about it. Copyright infringement’s not even an issue, with the text being in the public domain.”
Mariner said he welcomes controversy.
“If people object, that’s great,” he said. “We’ll fight that in court. This is world-class literature and should be treated as such. The novel’s about class distinctions and gender roles, not pornography.”
Local authorities are taking a wait-and-see approach. “I read the book and, frankly, it was a struggle to get through, it was so dull.” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Kept expecting raunchy, x-rated scenes, but it was all pretty underwhelming. Seen more graphic stuff on HBO. I’ll do whatever the law requires, but I didn’t read anything worth folks getting their shorts in a wad about.”