Lessing, Doris. (b. 1919).
W o r k
- early work: preoccupied with the growth of political awareness amongst native blacks and white settlers in colonial Africa
- later work: rejects conventional realism in favour of ‘inner space fiction’
> won the Nobel Prize for Literature (2007)
The Grass is Singing (1950):
- her first novel and an immediate sensation
- on political and social clashes between whites and blacks in Africa
Children of Violence (1952 - 1969):
- a 5-volume novel sequence
- on a young woman's developing political commitment and later disillusion
> The Four-Gated City (1969):
- the last and the most experimental novel in the sequence
- opens amid the political aspirations of British anti-nuclear campaigners
- concludes in the years 1995 and 2000 after a devastating atomic war
The Golden Notebook (1962):
- relates the concept of mental fragmentation to the disintegration of fictional form
- attempts to come to terms with an intelligent woman’s sense of private and public diffusion
- shapes the narrative around a series of notebooks kept by a woman writer trying to order different aspects of her life to fit in neat categories
- the protagonist's evolving perceptions of herself produce an inevitable but welcome formlessness: finds the private and public diffusion symptomatic not of social, mental, or ideological disease x but: of personal liberation
- conclusion: the protagonist fulfils her bids for freedom in a new value of a woman’s creativity
Canopus in Argos (1979 - 1983):
- a 5-volume novel sequence
- the novels qualify as science-fiction x but: emphasize social, cultural, and spiritual issues rather than details of scientific technology
- examine different societies at different stages of development
- focus on ‘accelerated evolution’ aided by advanced societies for less advanced species
The Good Terrorist (1985):
- a novel on the life of a well-intentioned squatter drawn into organizing acts of violence
- includes an essay analysing the novel's protagonist, setting, and language
The Fifth Child (1988):
- a novel with Gothic elements
- on the abrupt change in a happy couple's life after the birth of their fifth child who possesses strange, unprecedented qualities
(Lessing in 2006. Source: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorDoris May Tayler. Married Lessing. (b. 1919). British.
WorkNovelist. Short story writer. Nobel Prize winner (2007). Author of The Golden Notebook (1962).
GenresModern fiction. Colonial writing. Psychological realism. Science-fiction.
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Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.
"She was adolescent, and therefore bound to be unhappy: British, and therefore uneasy and defensive; in the fourth decade of the twentieth century, and therefore inescapably beset with problems of race and class; female and obliged to repudiate the shackled women of the past."
From Martha Quest (1952).