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Author: Susan Watkins

This study examines the writing career of the respected and prolific novelist Doris Lessing, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007 and who has recently published what she has announced will be her final novel. Whereas earlier assessments have focused on Lessing's relationship with feminism and the impact of her 1962 novel, The Golden Notebook, this book argues that Lessing's writing was formed by her experiences of the colonial encounter. It makes use of postcolonial theory and criticism to examine Lessing's continued interest in ideas of nation, empire, gender and race, and the connections between them, looking at the entire range of her writing, including her most recent fiction and non-fiction, which have been comparatively neglected.

Susan Watkins

Before the award of the Nobel in 2007, Doris Lessing’s reputation (in the UK at least) was looking rather shaky. Her best work behind her, she seemed to express increasingly reactionary and hectoring views and her recent writing (with some exceptions) tended to the loose, baggy and monstrous (to borrow from Henry James). 1 She appeared to be more and more distant from the cosmopolitan feel of contemporary fiction: some kind of relic from the colonial past, the Communist past, even the feminist past. Reviewers felt the need to

in Doris Lessing
Susan Watkins

In 1979, Doris Lessing made the transition to new worlds, publishing Shikasta , the first novel in her Canopus in Argos: Archives quintet (1979–83) and her first novel written entirely in the speculative mode. Science fiction (SF) has always involved extrapolation, so in what ways is writing about new worlds a way of writing about our own? What is the best way of voicing the relation between the familiar and the unfamiliar? Does SF require a different voice or narration? If it does, how might that make a writer like Lessing rethink

in Doris Lessing
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Exile and nostalgia in the writing of Doris Lessing
Susan Watkins

Doris Lessing’s key novels of the period 1945–60 examine the years leading up to the Second World War and the early to middle years of the war itself. Like Lessing, her heroines, Mary Turner and Martha Quest, grow up in a British colony in Africa in this period. The umbrella title of the five-volume novel sequence focusing on Martha is Children of Violence . This is indicative not just of Lessing’s preoccupation with the war, but also of her wider analysis of its connection with the violence of the colonial encounter. The sharpest irony

in Doris Lessing
Narrating nation and identity
Susan Watkins

In her work since 2000, Doris Lessing is concerned with different ways of writing both personal and political histories. Although this is a preoccupation that goes back at least as far as The Golden Notebook , working on the two volumes of her autobiography, Under My Skin (published in 1994) and Walking in the Shade (1997), must have heightened her interest in the question of how to narrate the past. This question is also addressed in her 1995 novel Love , Again , in which Sarah Durham, a theatre producer, writes and produces a

in Doris Lessing
Susan Watkins

Doris Lessing’s In Pursuit of the English (1960) provides an excellent point of entry into the extensive body of her work. It also allows us to begin to understand some of the contexts and intertexts that have been important in her writing. Issues of exile and migration are at the centre of this text and her work as a whole, suggesting the importance, but also the instability, of identity. Lessing is interested in ideas about class, nation, ‘race’ and gender, but, more importantly, in the links between these concepts and in the ways

in Doris Lessing
Doris Lessing’s late-twentieth-century fiction
Susan Watkins

Doris Lessing’s late-twentieth-century fiction has often provoked and discomfited. Some readers of The Fifth Child (1988), its sequel Ben , in the World (2000) and Lessing’s 1999 novel Mara and Dann were disturbed by her appropriation of racially marked stereotypes of the animal, the primitive and the atavistic. Such imagery has controversial implications in relation to ideas about ‘race’ and nation. A secondary and related concern for readers surrounds the success or otherwise of Lessing’s choices of genre and narrative technique

in Doris Lessing
Melancholy cosmopolitanism
Susan Watkins

What must strike any reader of Doris Lessing's 1962 novel, The Golden Notebook, is the extent to which its protagonist, AnnaWulf, has been affected by the experience of loss. Anna's attempt to convince herself that her pain and that of other women like her represents ‘not much loss’ is belied by the experience of reading the entire novel and by Lessing's continuing preoccupation with the idea of loss in her later novels, Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971) and The Memoirs of a Survivor (1974). This chapter explores how, in her work in the 1960s and the early 1970s, Lessing rewrites the experience of loss as potentially creative, productive and transformative. In her vision of what the chapter calls a ‘melancholy cosmopolitanism’, Lessing challenges the closed-off, paranoid legacy of the Cold War in the 1950s. In Memoirs and Briefing, she further develops the distinction between the claustrophobic, nostalgic relation to loss that is characteristic of mourning and the creative work of melancholia.

in Doris Lessing
Editor: Miles Leeson

This is the first edited collection of essays which focuses on the incest taboo and its literary and cultural presentation from the 1950s to the present day; it considers a number of authors rather than a single author from this period. This study discusses the impact of this change in attitudes on literature and literary adaptations in the latter half of the twentieth century, and early years of the twenty-first century. Although primarily concerned with fiction, the collection includes work on television and film. This collection will enhance the growing academic interest in trauma narratives and taboo-literature, offering a useful contribution to a fast-evolving field of artistic criticism which is concerned with the relationship between social issues and creativity. Authors discussed include Iain Banks, A.S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Simone de Beauvoir, Ted Hughes, Doris Lessing, Ian McEwan Iris Murdoch, Vladimir Nabokov, Andrea Newman and Pier Pasolini and Sylvia Plath.

Narrating incest through ‘différance’ in the work of Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt and Doris Lessing
Emma V. Miller and Miles Leeson

literary depiction of incest as a romantic, or indeed, Romantic, conceit in the literature of three key literary figures of the second wave of feminism: Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt and Doris Lessing. ‘[A]‌long the invisible gangway between her trapezes’: 14 Angela Carter’s narration of a taboo betwixt definition Angela Carter’s work is characterised by both its author’s feminism and

in Incest in contemporary literature