Cultures of Occupation and the Canadian [Con]Script[ion]: ‘Lessing Changed My Life’

  • Virginia Tiger


Like loon to wintry wind-song, Canada warming to the cool, detached Doris Lessing of the later fiction should come as no paradox. Shikasta, The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, The Good Terrorist, The Fifth Child: these texts are cautionary; they challenge political extremisms, championing steadiness, judiciousness, individual independence, moderate iconoclasm in the face of ideologies. Prisons We Choose to Live Inside (1987) — a template exemplar of this voice with its (cranky) elucidations of psychological, sociological, anthropological and sociobiological contributions to a twentieth-century science of group behaviour — was, in fact, the published compendium of a lecture series dedicated to the late Right Honorable Vincent Massey, Governor General of Canada, who intended these Massey Lectures to be an international venue for the addressing of Western society’s estate. (Lessing was to join a distinguished line of speakers: Northrop Frye, 1964; Martin Luther King, Jr, 1968; Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1978; Robert Jay Lifton, 1982; Carlos Fuentes, 1984.) As customary since 1961, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcast Lessing’s lectures, their subtext — that we inhabit only the edge-tide of civilisation — striking familiar chords in a country forced by climate as much as geography and history to become expert at national compromise, international mediation: sighting powerful opponents and disarming their volatilities by sheer resoluteness.


Scholarly Journal Creative Writing Woman Writer Cultural Nationalism Powerful Opponent 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia Tiger

There are no affiliations available

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