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Passionate Portrayal of Things to Come: Doris Lessing’s recent fiction

  • Sydney Janet Kaplan

Abstract

If it is dangerous to assess the work of a living author, it is especially so with Doris Lessing, who is twenty steps ahead of us whenever we try to place her in a critical framework or predict the direction of her work. Her own attitude towards her critics is highly ironic and she has questioned students about wasting their time dissecting only one book or even the works of a single author.1 As a critic then, I must face the fact that my current attempts to interpret Lessing may later appear foolish, but I also know that this body of work of hers is worth being foolish over. It intrigues me, worries me, infuriates me. How I hope her vision of the future will not come true! The clarity of her depiction of the dissolution of society, with its prediction of world-wide destruction and catastrophe makes many of her readers long to reject her prophesies, her rejection of the way most people live their lives.

Keywords

False Memory Secret Message Ordinary Life Critical Framework Material Shortage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    D. Lessing, ‘On the Golden Notebook’, Partisan Review, XL (Spring, 1973) 14–30; The Golden Notebook, (London: Michael Joseph, 1962).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    D. Lessing, The Four-Gated City, vol. five of Children of Violence (London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1969).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    S. J. Kaplan, ‘The Limits of Consciousness in the Novels of Doris Lessing’, Contemporary Literature, XIV (Autumn, 1973) 536; Feminine Consciousness in the Modern British Novel (London: University of Illinois Press, 1975) pp. 136–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 5.
    D. Lessing, Briefing For a Descent Into Hell (London: Jonathan Cape, 1971).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    D. Lessing, The Memoirs of a Survivor (London: Octagon, 1974).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    J. Mellors, ‘Island Styles’, The Listener, XCIII (23 January 1975) 126.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    For discussions of Lessing’s interest in Sufism, see: R. Rubenstein, The Novelistic Vision of Doris Lessing (London: University of Illinois Press, 1979);Google Scholar
  8. N. Hardin, ‘Doris Lessing and the Sufi Way’, Contemporary Literature, XIV (Autumn, 1973) 565–81;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. and D. Seligman, ‘The Sufi Quest’, World Literature Written in English, XII (1973) 190–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    J. White (ed.), The Highest State of Consciousness (New York: Anchor Books, 1972) p. vii .Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    D. Lessing, The Summer Before the Dark (London: Jonathan Cape, 1973).Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    M. H. Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism (New York: Norton, 1973) p. 184.Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    D. Lessing, ‘An Ancient Way to New Freedom’, Vogue, CLVIII (July 1971) 98.Google Scholar
  14. 23.
    D. Lessing, ‘In the World, Not of It: On Sufism’, Encounter, XXXIX (August 1972) 62.Google Scholar
  15. 24.
    J. E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols (New York: Philosophical Library, 1962) p. 268.Google Scholar
  16. 26.
    C. G. Jung, ‘The Stages of Life’, in J. Campbell (ed.), The Portable Jung (New York: Viking, 1971) pp. 3–22.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Thomas F. Staley 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sydney Janet Kaplan

There are no affiliations available

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