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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.

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

the reader to determine, what Derrida terms the ‘real’ ‘in an interpretative experience’. 75 Incest and Doris Lessing’s ‘unattainable beauty’ 76 The Golden Notebook (1962) is perhaps Doris Lessing’s best known and most widely critiqued novel. Earlier criticism on this text, by Ellen Brooks, Elaine Antler Rapping and Harold Bloom, amongst others, has

in Incest in contemporary literature
Melancholy cosmopolitanism
Susan Watkins

What must strike any reader of Lessing’s 1962 novel, The Golden Notebook , is the extent to which its protagonist, Anna Wulf, has been affected by the experience of loss. In the first section of the conventional realist frame novel Free Women , Anna asks Molly: ‘“Well, don’t you think it’s at least possible, just possible that things can happen to us so bad that we don’t ever get over them?”’. 1 She mentions failed marriages, broken relationships, single parenting and years spent in the Communist Party as painful instances of ‘bad

in Doris Lessing
Susan Watkins

attempts to recognise a whole life’s cultural production) to refer back to early successes rather than discuss recent work. Many commentaries on the award focused on The Golden Notebook as Lessing’s most important book and included comparatively little about the rest of her literary output in the latter half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. Harold Bloom called the award ‘pure political correctness’, acknowledging the ‘few admirable qualities’ in Lessing’s early work, but concluded that he believed her writing for the past fifteen years to be ‘quite

in Doris Lessing
Susan Watkins

preoccupation in her fiction. Her first novel, her early African stories, the first four volumes of the Children of Violence series, the ‘Mashopi’ sections of The Golden Notebook (1962) and the last third of her 2001 novel, The Sweetest Dream are all set in fictionalised Southern African countries closely based on Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. Even when her work seems to move far from this context, as in her speculative fiction, for example, critics have argued that her writing is still about ‘empire and power’. 17 In non-fiction work Southern

in Doris Lessing
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Susana Onega

Frederica, does it seem so impossible, so far away, so finished, this Oneness, Love, the Novel? [. . . .] Or perhaps, it’s only me, who can’t do it.’31 This is a key question that brings to mind Winterson’s rejection of the novel as an exhausted literary form and situates Frederica in the shadow of Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook (1962), whose protagonist, Anna Wulf, is similarly struck by the impossibility of achieving Forster and Lawrence’s goal, in her case in the 1950s. Anna tries to overcome the writer’s block caused by her feeling of self-fragmentation by

in Jeanette Winterson
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
Matthew Grant

-sitters,85 while Lessing’s The Truth about Billy Newton portrayed an elderly radical and his disintegrating family.86 Lessing’s play was produced in the same year in which her landmark novel The Golden Notebook was published, yet takes a very different stance to it. Billy Newton takes place against the backdrop of anti-nuclear marches, which provide a solution just off-screen to the sense of powerlessness that pervades the characters in the drama. The Golden Notebook, however, is set in the mid-1950s, and highlights the difficulty people had in conceptualising nuclear

in Understanding the imaginary war
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Miles Leeson and Emma V. Miller

Lessing’s The Golden Notebook (1962), Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop (1967), Nabokov’s Ada or Ardor (1969), Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden (1978) and Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres (1991), to name just a few. 38 However, despite developments in medical and cultural understanding of the reality of sexual abuse in the West, recent news coverage has revealed it has still continued to be prevalent

in Incest in contemporary literature
Susan Watkins

before: preferably The Golden Notebook over again’ (5). What is interesting here is the fact that many critics have taken this comment to mean that The Diaries marks a return to realism. 64 Yet it would seem that if this is a return it is an extremely complex and perverse one: The Diaries is about as realist as The Golden Notebook . In fact, as is also true of that novel, Lessing makes use of a number of metafictional techniques in order to ‘stage’ her ‘realism’ for the reader. Her intention is to question the commercial constraints that push certain authors

in Doris Lessing