Doris Lessing

Bookish Stuff / Monday, November 18th, 2013

Dorris Lessing the 2007 Nobel Prize winner of literature for her lifetime work died on Sunday in her London home.  She will be sadly missed by the literary world and by her book loving fans.  Her work was considered to be challenging to conventional society and to her readers.  Her work was highly critical to society and women’s roles.  Some of her best known novels are The Grass is Singing (1950),  The Golden Notebook (1962), and  The Good Terrorist (1985).  She was born the 22nd of October 1919 in Kermanshah, Iran.  She was born to English and British parents.  She lived and grew up on a farm in Southern Rhodesia.  She left school at 14 years old and was self-taught the rest of her life.  She began writing around the age of 15 while working as a nursemaid.  She was married twice and they both failed.  She never married again.  She had two children from her first marriage and one from her second.

Amongst her chaotic life, Lessing was a communist activist, while fighting against apartheid and nuclear arms. As a result she was banned entry to Rhodesia and South Africa for many years.  She was awarded various literary awards such as the Prix de Médicis Étranger in 1976 for The Golden Notebook and the Somerset Maugham Award in 1954 for Five Short Novels for her poignant works throughout her writing career.  She wrote countless novels, plays, short stories, memoirs, non-fiction, and poetry.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out Lessing’s works you should.  I’m no expert since I’ve only read The Fifth Child which was quite a read for me.  It definitely pushed me out of my reading comfort zone.  It intrigued me enough to want to read some of her other novels.  I think my next Lessing challenge will be the The Grass is Singing since it was recommended to me by a few of my subscribers when I did a review on The Fifth Child.  So what about you guys?  Is Doris Lessing one of those off limit writers for you or do you love her works?  What do you think of The Fifth Child being studied in Junior year of high school?  This is the case here in France.  My daughter just finished it and was perplexed and couldn’t get over how dar k it was.  In my opinion, I felt that there were so many other more interesting works that 16 and 17 year olds could be reading and analysing in English in France.

12 Replies to “Doris Lessing”

  1. I don’t think I’ve read anything yet by Lessing, but I definitely think I should. I’ll be putting her on my ‘too read’ list for sure. What an incredible woman.

  2. RIP Doris Lessing. I’ve never read any of her books, this is an opportunity for me to give her a try. Somehow Nobel Prize winner=intimidating for me 🙁

    1. Yes I agree. When you decide to pick something up, let me know what you think of what you decide to read. Nobel Prize winners are pretty good. Just go into with zero expectations and I’m sure you’ll get something out of it and maybe even love it.

  3. Yes, Lessing seems to have been around all my life as an ‘I really should read….’, but it’s not so far happened. Maybe her death should encourage me to step out of my comfort zone

  4. Earlier this year I became really intrigued by The Golden Notebook and made it a goal to read it in 2014 (I just need to first get through some of my current to-read list). I am a bit intimidated by it at many readers seem to have disliked it, saying it was too long and dragged on and on. But the subject matter interests me and I would like to try it. I felt very saddened by the news of her passing even though I haven’t read her yet.

    1. Yes I have heard very mixed reviews on The Golden Notebook too. I say put all of that out of your mind and face it with a clear head and no particular expectations. Take it as it comes and enjoy every word. Let me know how it went you’re done. 🙂

  5. Years ago I read one of her novels and I can’t actually remember the name of it, but I remember it was hard going. More recently I read her excellent non-fiction book African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe to try and get to know who Doris Lessing was. It was really interesting and you do get to know more about the writer in the context of that place she knew.

    I have The Golden Notebook on the shelf and know it will be a challenge, but that is one I think I should conquer, it’s reputation as a consciousness-raising work mark it out in literary history as influential in its time. Knowing it’s challenges should just prepare us and remind us that timing is everything, i.e. when we choose to read it.

    1. I agree. The Golden Notebook has been on my TBR for quite some time but I don’t feel ready to tackle it just yet. A challenging read is a good thing. It gets us out of our reading comfort zone. We can learn so much at that point.

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