Contexts and intertexts
in Doris Lessing
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Doris Lessing's In Pursuit of the English (1960), based on her experiences on first arriving in England from Southern Rhodesia and trying to find somewhere to live, 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 they overlap with and merge into one another. The generic indeterminacy of In Pursuit brings to the fore Lessing's critical relation to the constraints of genre and her qualified suspicion of categories such as realism and experimentalism, fiction and autobiography. Her constructive and complex use of autobiographical material also creatively interacts with her interest in the writer or artist as both figure in and producer of the text.

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