October 11, 2007



No thoughts on the choice? I haven't read her so I'm curious.


I posted this on another blog, but seeing as how nobody commented, I'm pretty sure it's because most of you in the literary blogosphere are really young and can't remember or haven't read many fiction writers who began their careers before, say, 1990:

I don't think I've ever been so excited by a Nobel prize in literature before. After I heard the news, I said, "Of course!" How come she was hardly ever, if at all, mentioned in the pre-announcement speculation? I wonder if it's because she doesn't mean as much to younger literary people as she does to older readers.

For a teenager in the late 1960s, reading The Golden Notebook was incredibly exhilirating. Lessing is one of those writers who showed me a way to see the world differently.

And as a struggling author in early 1980s, I loved her all the more when I saw the front page New York Times story on September 23, 1984: "DORIS LESSING SAYS SHE USED PEN NAME TO SHOW NEW WRITERS' DIFFICULTIES."

She'd published two books under a pseudonym of Jane Somers, and here's what she said at the time:

"I wanted to highlight that whole dreadful process in book publishing that 'nothing succeeds like success,' If the books had come out in my name, they would have sold a lot of copies and reviewers would have said, 'Oh, Doris Lessing, how wonderful.' As it is, there were almost no reviews, and the books sold about 1,500 copies here and scarcely 3,000 copies each in the United States."

Is there another great science fiction writer besides Lessing who's ever gotten the Nobel?

A magnificent choice.


Thanks for this appreciation, Richard. I've only read The Golden Notebook and, though aware of her stature and reputation, I haven't made it a point to get into her oeuvre until now. I wonder - at least in this country - if it's a question of her age or perhaps more the cultural/international divide. Either way, it's a different kind of treat for many - the opportunity for people to discover a writer, fully formed. I, for one, look forward to it. Who knows? She might even get me to enjoy science fiction ...


I, too, was pleased with the news this morning. I have followed her since my first introduction to her work in the early 1980s. "The Golden Notebook" is alway seen as her seminal work and is often taught as a novel about the lives of women and the women's movement. That tight focus neglects that it is very much a novel about a writer struggling to write her second novel - and a novel about political movements and how to be active and engaged in a world at war.

I recommend the "Children of Violence" series - all of it, from "Martha Quest" through "The Four Gated City," though most start with the last. Of her novels from the 80s (the Jane Somers novels, "The Fifth Child" ) - well, I re-read "The Good Terrorist" just last year and it stands strong, even stronger now. It would be a good "first" Lessing novel to read.

I never could get into her science fiction but I liked the fact that she voyaged so widely in her work. I respect her for that. A fine mind.

Okay - enough gushing. Back to work.


Thanks, Lisa - nothing beats a knowledgable recommendation! Much obliged.


Well, my "knowledge" is weighted with a certain kind of love (Lessing was one of those writers" for me - like a first love) and you know how that goes.

Still, she got so much right - mid-century Rhodesia, Thatcher's London, the pre-apocalyptic London of "The Four Gated City"...


i am a iranian documentry filmmaker. i want make a film from doris lessing.; in iran;afriqa and england. guide me please.

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