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Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing at lit.cologne 2006
Born Doris May Tayler
22 October 1919 (1919-10-22) (age 90)
Kermanshah, Persia
Pen name Jane Somers
Occupation Writer
Nationality British
Period 20th Century, 21st Century
Literary movement Modernism, Postmodernism, Sufism, Socialism, Feminism, Science fiction
Notable work(s) The Grass is Singing, The Golden Notebook, Briefing for a Descent into Hell, The Good Terrorist, Canopus in Argos, The Cleft
Notable award(s) Nobel Prize in Literature
2007
Spouse(s) Frank Charles Wisdom (1939-1943)
Gottfried Anton Nicolai Lessing (1945-1949)
Official website

Doris May Lessing CH, OBE (née Tayler; born 22 October 1919) is an Iranian-born British writer, author of works such as the novels The Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook.

In 2007, Lessing won the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was described by the Swedish Academy as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny".[1] Lessing is the eleventh woman to win the Literature Prize,[2][3] and also the oldest person ever to win the prize.[4]

In 2001, Lessing was awarded the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in British Literature. In 2008, The Times ranked her fifth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".[5]

Contents

Background

Lessing was born in Iran, then known as Persia, on 22 October 1919, to Captain Alfred Tayler and Emily Maude Tayler (née McVeagh), who were both English and of British nationality.[6] Her father, who had lost a leg during his service in World War I, met his future wife, a nurse, at the Royal Free Hospital where he was recovering from his amputation.[7][8]

Alfred Tayler and his wife moved to Kermanshah, Iran, in order to take up a job as a clerk for the Imperial Bank of Persia and it was here that Doris was born in 1919.[9][10] The family then moved to the British colony of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1925 to farm maize, when her father purchased around one thousand acres of bush. Lessing's mother attempted to lead an Edwardian life style amidst the rough environment, which would have been easy had the family been wealthy; it was not. The farm was not successful and failed to deliver the wealth the Taylers had expected.[11]

Lessing was educated at the Dominican Convent High School, a Roman Catholic convent all-girls school in Salisbury (now Harare).[12] Lessing left school aged 14, and thereafter was self-educated. She left home at 15 and worked as a nursemaid, and it was around this time that Lessing started reading material on politics and sociology that her employer gave her to read.[8] She began writing around this time. In 1937, Lessing moved to Salisbury to work as a telephone operator, and she soon married her first husband, Frank Wisdom, with whom she had two children, before the marriage ended in 1943.[8]

Following her divorce, Lessing was drawn to the Left Book Club, a communist book club,[11] and it was here that she met her second husband, Gottfried Lessing. They were married shortly after she joined the group and had a child together, before the marriage also ended in divorce in 1949. Gottfried Lessing later became the East German ambassador to Uganda, and was murdered in the 1979 rebellion against Idi Amin Dada.[8]

Writing career

Because of her campaigning against nuclear arms and South African apartheid, Lessing was banned from that country and from Rhodesia for many years.[13] Lessing moved to London with her youngest son in 1949 and it was at this time her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, was published.[11] Her breakthrough work though, was The Golden Notebook, written in 1962.[10]

In 1984, she attempted to publish two novels under a pseudonym, Jane Somers, to demonstrate the difficulty new authors faced in trying to break into print. The novels were declined by Lessing's UK publisher, but accepted by another English publisher, Michael Joseph, and in the US by Alfred A. Knopf.[14]

She declined a damehood, but accepted appointment as a Companion of Honour at the end of 1999 for "conspicuous national service".[15] She has also been made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature.[16]

On 11 October 2007, Lessing was announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.[17] She was 87, making her the oldest winner of the literature prize at the time of the award[18] and the third oldest Nobel Laureate in any category.[19][20] She also stands as only the eleventh woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature by the Swedish Academy in its 106-year history.[21] She sarcastically told reporters outside her home "I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all. It's a royal flush."[22] She titled her Nobel Lecture On Not Winning the Nobel Prize and used it to draw attention to global inequality of opportunity, and to explore changing attitudes to storytelling and literature. The lecture was later published in a limited edition to raise money for children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. In a 2008 interview for the BBC's Front Row, she stated that increased media interest following the award had left her without time for writing.[23]

Literary style

Idries Shah, who introduced Lessing to Sufism[24]

Lessing's fiction is commonly divided into three distinct phases: the Communist theme (1944–1956), when she was writing radically on social issues (to which she returned in The Good Terrorist (1985)), the psychological theme (1956–1969), and after that the Sufi theme, which was explored in a science fiction setting in the Canopus series.

Lessing's switch to science fiction was not popular with many critics. For example, in the New York Times in 1982 John Leonard wrote in reference to The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 that "One of the many sins for which the 20th century will be held accountable is that it has discouraged Mrs. Lessing.... She now propagandizes on behalf of our insignificance in the cosmic razzmatazz."[25] To which Lessing replied: "What they didn't realize was that in science fiction is some of the best social fiction of our time. I also admire the classic sort of science fiction, like Blood Music, by Greg Bear. He's a great writer."[26] Unlike some authors primarily known for their mainstream work, she has never hesitated to admit that she writes science fiction. She was Writer Guest of Honour at the 1987 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), and made a well-received speech in which she described her science-fictional Memoirs of a Survivor as "an attempt at an autobiography."[27]

Her novel The Golden Notebook is considered a feminist classic by some scholars, but notably not by the author herself, who later wrote that its theme of mental breakdowns as a means of healing and freeing one's self from illusions had been overlooked by critics. She also regretted that critics failed to appreciate the exceptional structure of the novel. As she explains in Walking in the Shade Lessing modelled Molly, to an extent, on her good friend Joan Rodker, the daughter of the author and publisher John Rodker.[28]

Lessing does not like the idea of being pigeon-holed as a feminist author. When asked why, she replies:

What the feminists want of me is something they haven't examined because it comes from religion. They want me to bear witness. What they would really like me to say is, 'Ha, sisters, I stand with you side by side in your struggle toward the golden dawn where all those beastly men are no more.' Do they really want people to make oversimplified statements about men and women? In fact, they do. I've come with great regret to this conclusion.

Doris Lessing, The New York Times, 25 July 1982[9]

When asked about which of her books she considers most important, Lessing chose the Canopus in Argos science fiction series (1979–1983). These books show, from many different perspectives, an advanced society's efforts at forced evolution (also see Progressor and Uplift). The Canopus series is based partly on Sufi concepts, to which Lessing was introduced in the mid-1960s by her "good friend and teacher", Idries Shah.[24] It also owes much to the approach of G. I. Gurdjieff in All and Everything. Earlier works of "inner space" fiction like Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971) and Memoirs of a Survivor (1974) also connect to this theme (Lessing's interest turned to Sufism after coming to the realization that Marxism ignored spiritual matters, leaving her disillusioned).

Archive

Lessing's largest literary archive is held by the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, at the University of Texas at Austin. The 45 archival boxes of Lessing's materials at the Ransom Center represent nearly all of her extant manuscripts and typescripts through 1999. Original material for Lessing's early books is assumed not to exist because Lessing kept none of her early manuscripts.[29] Other institutions, such as McFarlin Library at the University of Tulsa hold smaller collections.[30]

Awards

Works

Novels
  • The Grass is Singing (1950)
  • The Golden Notebook (1962)
  • Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971)
  • The Summer Before the Dark (1973)
  • Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
  • The Diary of a Good Neighbour (as Jane Somers, 1983)
  • If the Old Could... (as Jane Somers, 1984)
  • The Good Terrorist (1985)
  • The Fifth Child (1988)
  • Playing the Game (graphic novel, illustrated by Charlie Adlard, 1995)
  • Love, Again (1996)
  • Mara and Dann (1999)
  • Ben, in the World (2000) – sequel to The Fifth Child
  • The Sweetest Dream (2001)
  • The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog (2005) – sequel to Mara and Dann
  • The Cleft (2007)
  • Alfred and Emily (2008)
The Children of Violence series
  • Martha Quest (1952)
  • A Proper Marriage (1954)
  • A Ripple from the Storm (1958)
  • Landlocked (1965)
  • The Four-Gated City (1969)
The Canopus in Argos: Archives series
Operas
Drama
  • Each His Own Wilderness (three plays, 1959)
  • Play with a Tiger (1962)
Poetry
  • Fourteen Poems (1959)
  • The Wolf People - INPOPA Anthology 2002 (poems by Lessing, Robert Twigger and T.H. Benson, 2002)
Story collections
  • Five Short Novels (1953)
  • The Habit of Loving (1957)
  • A Man and Two Women (1963)
  • African Stories (1964)
  • Winter in July (1966)
  • The Black Madonna (1966)
  • The Story of a Non-Marrying Man (1972)
  • This Was the Old Chief's Country: Collected African Stories, Vol. 1 (1973)
  • The Sun Between Their Feet: Collected African Stories, Vol. 2 (1973)
  • To Room Nineteen: Collected Stories, Vol. 1 (1978)
  • The Temptation of Jack Orkney: Collected Stories, Vol. 2 (1978)
  • Through the Tunnel (1990)
  • London Observed: Stories and Sketches (1992)
  • The Real Thing: Stories and Sketches (1992)
  • Spies I Have Known (1995)
  • The Pit (1996)
  • The Grandmothers: Four Short Novels (2003)
Cat Tales
  • Particularly Cats (stories and nonfiction, 1967)
  • Particularly Cats and Rufus the Survivor (stories and nonfiction, 1993)
  • The Old Age of El Magnifico (stories and nonfiction, 2000)
  • On Cats (2002) – omnibus edition containing the above three books
Non-fiction
  • Going Home (memoir, 1957)
  • In Pursuit of the English (1960)
  • Prisons We Choose to Live Inside (essays, 1987)
  • The Wind Blows Away Our Words (1987)
  • African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe (memoir, 1992)
  • A Small Personal Voice (essays, 1994)
  • Conversations (interviews, edited by Earl G. Ingersoll, 1994)
  • Putting the Questions Differently (interviews, edited by Earl G. Ingersoll, 1996)
  • Time Bites (essays, 2004)
  • On Not Winning the Nobel Prize (Nobel Lecture, 2007, published 2008)
Autobiography

See also

References

  1. ^ "NobelPrize.org". http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2007/index.html. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  2. ^ Crown, Sarah. Look at her face.Doris Lessing wins Nobel prize. Look at her face.. The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-10-12.
  3. ^ Editors at BBC. Author Lessing wins Nobel honour. BBC News. Retrieved on 2007-10-12.
  4. ^ Marchand, Philip. Doris Lessing oldest to win literature award. Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2007-10-13.
  5. ^ (5 January 2008). The 50 greatest British writers since 1945. The Times. Retrieved on 2010-02-01.
  6. ^ Hazelton, Lesley (11 October 2007). "`Golden Notebook' Author Lessing Wins Nobel Prize". Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=anexY5Z5sGgw&refer=home. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  7. ^ Klein, Carole. "Doris Lessing". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/k/klein-lessing.html. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Doris Lessing". kirjasto.sci.fi. http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/dlessing.htm. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  9. ^ a b Hazelton, Lesley (25 July 1982). "Doris Lessing on Feminism, Communism and 'Space Fiction'". The New York Times. http://mural.uv.es/vemivein/feminismcommunism.htm. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  10. ^ a b "Author Lessing wins Nobel honour". BBC News Online. 11 October 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7039100.stm. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  11. ^ a b c "Biography". A Reader's Guide to The Golden Notebook & Under My Skin. HarperCollins. 1995. http://www.dorislessing.org/biography.html. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  12. ^ Carol Simpson Stern. Doris Lessing Biography. biography.jrank.org. Retrieved on 2007-10-11.
  13. ^ Billinghurst, Kevin (11 October 2007). "British Author Doris Lessing Wins Nobel Prize for Literature". Voices of America. http://voanews.com/english/2007-10-11-voa21.cfm. Retrieved 15 October 2007. 
  14. ^ Hanft, Adam. When Doris Lessing Became Jane Somers and Tricked the Publishing World (And Possibly Herself In the Process). Huffington Post. Retrieved on 2007-10-11. The Diary of a Good Neighbour[1] was published in England and the US in 1983, and If the Old Could in both countries in 1984[2], both as written by "Jane Somers." In 1984, both novels were re-published in both countries (Viking Books publishing in the US), this time under one cover, with the title The Diaries of Jane Somers: The Diary of a Good Neighbor and If the Old Could, listing Doris Lessing as author.
  15. ^ "Doris Lessing interview" (Audio). BBC Radio. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/profilepages/lessingd2.shtml. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  16. ^ "Companions of Literature list". http://www.rslit.org/companions.htm. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  17. ^ Rich, Motoko and Lyall, Sarah. Doris Lessing Wins Nobel Prize in Literature. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-10-11.
  18. ^ Wilkes, David. British author, 87, wins Nobel while out shopping. Daily Mail. Retrieved on 2007-10-16.
  19. ^ Lessing is the third oldest person to be awarded a Nobel Prize. Leonid Hurwicz was 90 when he was awarded the 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science in 2007. Raymond Davis Jr., also 87 when he won the 2002 Physics Prize, is 5 days older than Lessing.
  20. ^ Pierre-Henry Deshayes. Doris Lessing wins Nobel Literature Prize. Herald Sun. Retrieved on 2007-10-16.
  21. ^ Reynolds, Nigel. Doris Lessing wins Nobel prize for literature. The Telegraph. Retrieved on 2007-10-15.
  22. ^ Hinckley, David. Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize for Literature. New York Daily News. Retrieved on 15 October 2007.
  23. ^ "Lessing: Nobel win a 'disaster'". BBC News Online. 11 May 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7393915.stm. Retrieved 11 May 2008. 
  24. ^ a b Lessing, Doris. "On the Death of Idries Shah (excerpt from Shah's obituary in the London The Daily Telegraph)". dorislessing.org. http://www.dorislessing.org/on.html. Retrieved 3 October 2008. 
  25. ^ Leonard, John. "The Spacing Out of Doris Lessing". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9806E2DE163BF934A35751C0A964948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 16 October 2008. 
  26. ^ Doris Lessing: Hot Dawns, interview by Harvey Blume in Boston Book Review
  27. ^ "Guest of Honor Speech", in Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches, edited by Mike Resnick and Joe Siclari (Deerfield, IL: ISFIC Press, 2006), p. 192.
  28. ^ Lessing's Early and Transitional Novels: The Beginnings of a Sense of Selfhood Retrieved 2007-10-17
  29. ^ "Harry Ransom Center Holds Archive of Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing". hrc.utexas.edu. http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/press/releases/2007/lessing.html. Retrieved 17 March 2008. 
  30. ^ "Doris Lessing manuscripts". www.lib.utulsa.edu. http://www.lib.utulsa.edu/speccoll/collections/lessingdoris/index.htm. Retrieved 17 October 2007. 

Further reading

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I'm always astounded at the way we automatically look at what divides and separates us. We never look at what people have in common ... this is a disease of the mind, the way I see it.

Doris Lessing (born 22 October 1919) is a British writer, born Doris May Tayler. In October 2007 Lessing became the eleventh woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in its 106-year history, and its oldest recipient ever.

See also: Canopus in Argos

Contents

Sourced

In university they don't tell you that the greater part of the law is learning to tolerate fools.
  • It is terrible to destroy a person's picture of himself in the interests of truth or some other abstraction.
  • In university they don't tell you that the greater part of the law is learning to tolerate fools.
    • Martha Quest (1952), Part III, ch. 2
  • If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air.
    • Particularly Cats, ch. 2 (1967)
That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.
  • That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.
  • Literature is analysis after the event.
    • Quoted in Children of Albion: Poetry of the Underground in Britain, ed. Michael Horovitz (1969): Afterwords, section 2
  • Laughter is by definition healthy.
    • The Summer Before the Dark (1973)
  • Nonsense, it was all nonsense: this whole damned outfit, with its committees, its conferences, its eternal talk, talk, talk, was a great con trick; it was a mechanism to earn a few hundred men and women incredible sums of money.
    • The Summer Before the Dark (1973)
  • You know, whenever women make imaginary female kingdoms in literature, they are always very permissive, to use the jargon word, and easy and generous and self-indulgent, like the relationships between women when there are no men around. They make each other presents, and they have little feasts, and nobody punishes anyone else. This is the female way of going along when there are no men about or when men are not in the ascendant.
    • New York Times Book Review (30 March 1980), p. 24
  • It can be considered a rule that the probable duration of an Empire may be prognosticated by the degree to which its rulers believe in their own propaganda.
    • The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (1983), p. 94, Flamingo edition
  • You can only learn to be a better writer by actually writing. I don't know much about creative writing programs. But they're not telling the truth if they don't teach, one, that writing is hard work and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer.
    • Interview with Herbert Mitgang, "Mrs. Lessing Addresses Some of Life's Puzzles," The New York Times (22 April 1984)
  • This world is run by people who know how to do things. They know how things work. They are equipped. Up there, there's a layer of people who run everything. But we — we're just peasants. We don't understand what's going on, and we can't do anything.
    • The Good Terrorist (1985)
  • There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.
    • As quoted in Writers on Writing (1986) by Jon Winokur
What matters most is that we learn from living.
  • Space or science fiction has become a dialect for our time.
    • The Guardian, London (7 November 1988)
  • All one's life as a young woman one is on show, a focus of attention, people notice you. You set yourself up to be noticed and admired. And then, not expecting it, you become middle-aged and anonymous. No one notices you. You achieve a wonderful freedom. It's a positive thing. You can move about unnoticed and invisible.
    • As quoted in An Uncommon Scold (1989) by Abby Adams, p. 18
  • The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven't changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don't change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.
    • The Sunday Times, London (10 May 1992)
  • Political correctness is the natural continuum from the party line. What we are seeing once again is a self-appointed group of vigilantes imposing their views on others. It is a heritage of communism, but they don't seem to see this.
    • The Sunday Times, London (10 May 1992)
  • With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one — but no one at all — can tell you what to read and when and how.
I do not think writers ought ever to sit down and think they must write about some cause, or theme... If they write about their own experiences, something true is going to emerge.
  • What matters most is that we learn from living.
    • As quoted in Permission to Play : Taking Time to Renew Your Smile (2003) by Jill Murphy Long, p. 147
  • Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.
    • Interview with Amanda Craig, "Grand dame of letters who's not going quietly," The Times, London (23 November 2003)
  • Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.
    • As quoted in Wisdom for the Soul : Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing (2006) by Larry Chang, p. 660
  • I do not think writers ought ever to sit down and think they must write about some cause, or theme... If they write about their own experiences, something true is going to emerge.
  • This has been going on for 30 years. I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all. It's a royal flush.
    • After being chosen as the 2007 recipient of the Nobel Prize For Literature "BBC News", BBC, London (11 October 2007)

The Golden Notebook (1962)

Sometimes I pick up a book and I say: Well, so you've written it first, have you? Good for you. O.K., then I won't have to write it.
  • My major aim was to shape a book which would make its own comment, a wordless statement: to talk through the way it was shaped.
    As I have said, this was not noticed
    • Introduction (1971 edition)
  • I think it possible that Marxism was the first attempt, for our time, outside the formal religions, at a world-mind, a world-ethic. It went wrong, could not prevent itself from dividing and subdividing, like all the other religions, into smaller and smaller chapels, sects, and creeds. But it was an attempt.
    • Introduction (1971)
  • Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this:
    "You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination.
    We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society."
    • Introduction (1971)
  • There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag — and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty — and vice versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.
    • Introduction (1971)
  • The two women were alone in the London flat.
    "The point is," said Anna, as her friend came back from the telephone on the landing, "the point is, that as far as I can see, everything's cracking up."
    • First lines, "Free Women: 1"
  • The point is, that the function of the novel seems to be changing; it has become an outpost of journalism; we read novels for information about areas of life we don’t know — Nigeria, South Africa, the American army, a coal-mining village, coteries in Chelsea, etc. We read to find out what is going on. One novel in five hundred or a thousand has the quality a novel should have to make it a novel — the quality of philosophy.
    • Anna Wulf, in "Free Women: 1"
It was all wrong, ugly, unhappy and coloured with cynicism, but nothing was tragic, there were no moments that could change anything or anybody. From time to time the emotional lightning flashed and showed a landscape of private misery, and then — we went on dancing.
  • The novel has become a function of the fragmented society, the fragmented consciousness. Human beings are so divided, are becoming more and more divided, and more subdivided in themselves, reflecting the world, that they reach out desperately, not knowing they do it, for information about other groups inside their own country, let alone about groups in other countries. It is a blind grasping out for their own wholeness, and the novel-report is a means toward it.
    • Anna Wulf, in "Free Women: 1"
  • What is so painful about that time is that nothing was disastrous. It was all wrong, ugly, unhappy and coloured with cynicism, but nothing was tragic, there were no moments that could change anything or anybody. From time to time the emotional lightning flashed and showed a landscape of private misery, and then — we went on dancing.
    • Anna Wulf, in "Free Women: 1"
  • We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse. They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who is frightened of his landlord and of the police is a slave. They have known it. We know it. But do the great enlightened mass of the British people know it? No. It is our task, Ella, yours and mine, to tell them. Because the great men are too great to be bothered. They are already discovering how to colonise Venus and to irrigate the moon. That is what is important for our time. You and I are the boulder-pushers. All our lives, you and I, we’ll put all our energies, all our talents into pushing a great boulder up a mountain. The boulder is the truth that the great men know by instinct, and the mountain is the stupidity of mankind.
    • Paul Tanner, in "Free Women: 1"
  • It seems to me like this. It's not a terrible thing — I mean, it may be terrible, but it's not damaging, it's not poisoning, to do without something one really wants. It's not bad to say: My work is not what I really want, I'm capable of doing something bigger. Or I'm a person who needs love, and I'm doing without it. What's terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is the first-rate. To pretend that you don't need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you're capable of better.
    • Anna Wulf, in "Free Women: 2"
  • It isn’t only the terror everywhere, and the fear of being conscious of it, that freezes people. It’s more than that. People know they are in a society dead or dying. They are refusing emotion because at the end of very emotion are property, money, power. They work and despise their work, and so freeze themselves. They love but know that it’s a half- love or a twisted love, and so they freeze themselves.
    • Anna Wulf, in "Free Women: 4"
  • There was a kind of shifting of the balances of my brain, of the way I had been thinking, the same kind of realignment as when, a few days before, words like democracy, liberty, freedom, had faded under pressure of a new sort of understanding of the real movement of the world towards dark, hardening power. I knew, but of course the word, written, cannot convey the quality of this knowing, that whatever already is has its logic and its force. I felt this, like a vision, in a new kind of knowing. And I knew that the cruelty and the spite and the I.I.I.I. of Saul and of Anna were part of the logic of war; and I knew how strong these emotions were, in a way that would never leave me, would become part of how I saw the world.
    • Anna Wulf, in "Free Women: 4"
All sanity depends on this: that it should be a delight to feel the roughness of a carpet under smooth soles, a delight to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright, knowing the bones are moving easily under flesh...
  • I knew, and it was an illumination — one of those things one has always known, but never understood before — that all sanity depends on this: that it should be a delight to feel the roughness of a carpet under smooth soles, a delight to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright, knowing the bones are moving easily under flesh. If this goes, then the conviction of life goes too. But I could feel none of this. ... I knew I was moving into a new dimension, further from sanity than I had ever been.
    • Anna Wulf, in "The Golden Notebook"
  • You want me to begin a novel with The two women were alone in the London flat?
    • Anna Wulf, in "The Golden Notebook"
  • Sometimes I pick up a book and I say: Well, so you've written it first, have you? Good for you. O.K., then I won't have to write it.
    • Saul Green in "The Golden Notebook"
  • There's only one real sin, and that is to persuade oneself that the second-best is anything but the second-best.
    • Anna Wulf
  • None of you ask for anything — except everything, but just for so long as you need it.
    • Anna Wulf

Salon interview (1997)

"A Notorious Life" — interview with Dwight Garner at salon.com (11 November 1997)
  • The automatic reaction of practically any young person is, at once, against authority. That, I think, began in the First World War because of the trenches, and the incompetence of the people on all fronts. I think that a terrible bitterness and anger began there, which led to communism. And now it feeds terrorism. Anyway, that's my thesis. It's very oversimplified, as you can see.
  • It was OK, us being Reds during the war, because we were all on the same side. But then the Cold War started. Almost overnight we became enemies of people who were close friends — they crossed the street to avoid us.
  • Why were the Europeans bothered about the Soviet Union at all? It was nothing to do with us. China had nothing to do with us. Why were we not building, without reference to the Soviet Union, a good society in our own countries? But no, we were all — in one way or another — obsessed with the bloody Soviet Union, which was a disaster. What people were supporting was failure. And continually justifying it.
  • I'm always astounded at the way we automatically look at what divides and separates us. We never look at what people have in common. If you see it, black and white people, both sides look to see the differences, they don't look at what they have together. Men and women, and old and young, and so on. And this is a disease of the mind, the way I see it. Because in actual fact, men and women have much more in common than they are separated.
  • All political movements are like this — we are in the right, everyone else is in the wrong. The people on our own side who disagree with us are heretics, and they start becoming enemies. With it comes an absolute conviction of your own moral superiority. There's oversimplification in everything, and a terror of flexibility.
  • The current publishing scene is extremely good for the big, popular books. They sell them brilliantly, market them and all that. It is not good for the little books. And really valuable books have been allowed to go out of print. In the old days, the publishers knew that these difficult books, the books that appeal only to a minority, were very productive in the long run. Because they're probably the books that will be read in the next generation. It's heart-breaking how often I have to say when I'm giving talks, "This book is out of print. This book is out of print." It's a roll call of dead books.

Misattributed

  • Better Counsel comes overnight.
  • Borrowing is not much better than begging; just as lending with interest is not much better than stealing.
    • I, who ne'er
      Went for myself a begging, go a borrowing,
      And that for others. Borrowing's much the same
      As begging; just as lending upon usury
      Is much the same as thieving.
    • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Nathan the Wise (1779), Act II, scene II [[2]
  • For the last third of life there remains only work. It alone is always stimulating, rejuvenating, exciting and satisfying.
  • Man — who is he? Too bad, to be the work of God: Too good for the work of chance!
    • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, as quoted in Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern English and Foreign Sources (1899) by James Wood, p. 61
  • Trust no friend without faults, and love a maiden, but no angel.
    • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, as quoted in Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern English and Foreign Sources (1899) by James Wood, p. 499
  • What is a hero without love for mankind?
  • I have found it to be true that the older I've become the better my life has become.
    • Rush Limbaugh, as quoted in Old Age Is Always 15 Years Older Than I Am (2001) by Randy Voorhees

Quotes about Lessing

  • She might well wonder what took them so long. Doris Lessing is the ideal winner of the Nobel Prize. After all, the prize is about idealism, and was founded in the belief that writers can make the world a better place.
    Lessing can depict the world as a terrible place, peopled by terrorists, in which the women can be as violent as the men, and war can describe the planet entirely.
    But she never abandons the hope that the planet can be better, even if she has to imagine other planets to show how this is possible.
  • Doris Lessing was nothing less than the goddess of literature herself for young women like myself aspiring to write in the 1970s. Her classic, The Golden Notebook, directly addressed the contradictions in women's lives in a way that was sophisticated, insightful and dispassionate.... When I started writing novels in the early 1980s, I often felt pressure from women to depict wholesome female role models. The pressure never worked, partly because Doris Lessing had gone before and blazed a path for all of us as readers, as women, as people.
  • Mrs. Lessing's view of recent politics is not everyone's. Her view of the future (inevitably brutish and painful) is that it is the present: that we are all hypnotized, awaiting cataclysms which we are in fact living through now; that we are now — as we run and read — in the process of a rapid evolution; that we are mutating fast but can't see it, the chief characteristic of our race being its inability to see what is under its nose; that historians and scientists, in their timid traditionalism, feed our fantasy view of ourselves — suppressing truths about the human condition, about madness, about sanity, about the essential nature of the mind.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Doris Lessing File:Nobel prize
Occupation Writer
Nationality File:Flag of the United British
Literary movement Feminism, Modernism, Science fiction

Doris Lessing (born as Doris May Tayler, on 22 October, 1919[1] in Kermanshah, Iran[2]) is a British writer. In 2007, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Reporters told Doris that she had won the Nobel prize and they asked her "Are you not surprised?". She said she had already "won every other European literature prize" so winning prizes was normal.

Contents

Early life

Lessing was born in Iran on 22 October 1919. Her parents were both English. They met at the Royal Free Hospital. Her father, Captain Alfred Tayler, was a patient because he had lost his leg in World War I. Her mother, Emily Maude Tayler (maiden name McVeagh), was a nurse.[3][4][5]

Alfred Tayler and his wife moved to Kermanshah, Iran. He started a job there as a clerk for the Imperial Bank of Persia. Doris was born here in 1919.[6][7] Later, the family moved to the British colony of Southern Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) in 1925 to farm maize.

Awards

  • Somerset Maugham Award (1954)
  • Prix Médicis étranger (1976)
  • Austrian State Prize for European Literature (1981)
  • Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F. V. S., Hamburg (1982)
  • W. H. Smith Literary Award (1986)
  • Palermo Prize (1987)
  • Premio Internazionale Mondello (1987)
  • Premio Grinzane Cavour (1989)
  • James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography (1995)
  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize (1995)
  • Premi Internacional Catalunya (1999)[8]
  • Order of the Companions of Honour (1999)
  • Companion of Literature of the Royal Society of Literature (2000)
  • David Cohen Prize (2001)
  • Prince of Asturias Awards|Premio Príncipe de Asturias (2001)
  • S.T. Dupont Golden PEN Award (2002)
  • Nobel Prize in Literature (2007)

Works

Novels
  • The Grass is Singing (1950)
  • Retreat to Innocence (1956)
  • The Golden Notebook (1962)
  • Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971)
  • The Summer Before the Dark (1973)
  • Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
  • The Diary of a Good Neighbour (as Jane Somers, 1983)
  • If the Old Could... (as Jane Somers, 1984)
  • The Good Terrorist (1985)
  • The Fifth Child (1988)
  • Love, Again (1996)
  • Mara and Dann (1999)
  • Ben, in the World (2000) – sequel to The Fifth Child
  • The Sweetest Dream (2001)
  • The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog (2005) – sequel to Mara and Dann
  • The Cleft (2007)
  • Alfred and Emily (2008)
The Children of Violence series
  • Martha Quest (1952)
  • A Proper Marriage (1954)
  • A Ripple from the Storm (1958)
  • Landlocked (1965)
  • The Four-Gated City (1969)
Canopus in Argos: Archives series
  • Shikasta (1979)
  • The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (1980)
  • The Sirian Experiments (1980)
  • The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1982)
  • The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (1983)
Opera libretti
  • The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (opera)|The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (music by Philip Glass, 1986)
  • The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (music by Philip Glass, 1997)
Comics
  • Playing the Game (graphic novel illustrated by Charlie Adlard, 1995)
Drama
  • Each His Own Wilderness (three plays, 1959)
  • Play with a Tiger (1962)
Poetry
  • Fourteen Poems (1959)
  • The Wolf People - INPOPA Anthology 2002 (poems by Lessing, Robert Twigger and T.H. Benson, 2002)

Short story collections
  • Five Short Novels (1953)
  • The Habit of Loving (1957)
  • A Man and Two Women (1963)
  • African Stories (1964)
  • Winter in July (1966)
  • The Black Madonna (1966)
  • The Story of a Non-Marrying Man (1972)
  • This Was the Old Chief's Country: Collected African Stories, Vol. 1 (1973)
  • The Sun Between Their Feet: Collected African Stories, Vol. 2 (1973)
  • To Room Nineteen: Collected Stories, Vol. 1 (1978)
  • The Temptation of Jack Orkney: Collected Stories, Vol. 2 (1978)
  • Through the Tunnel (1990)
  • London Observed: Stories and Sketches (1992)
  • The Real Thing: Stories and Sketches (1992)
  • Spies I Have Known (1995)
  • The Pit (1996)
  • The Grandmothers: Four Short Novels (2003)
Cat Tales
  • Particularly Cats (stories and nonfiction, 1967)
  • Particularly Cats and Rufus the Survivor (stories and nonfiction, 1993)
  • The Old Age of El Magnifico (stories and nonfiction, 2000)
  • On Cats (2002) – omnibus edition containing the above three books
Autobiography and memoirs
  • Going Home (memoir, 1957)
  • African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe (memoir, 1992)
  • Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949 (1994)
  • Walking in the Shade: Volume Two of My Autobiography, 1949 to 1962 (1997)
Other nonfiction
  • In Pursuit of the English (1960)
  • Prisons We Choose to Live Inside (essays, 1987)
  • The Wind Blows Away Our Words (1987)
  • A Small Personal Voice (essays, 1994)
  • Conversations (interviews, edited by Earl G. Ingersoll, 1994)
  • Putting the Questions Differently (interviews, edited by Earl G. Ingersoll, 1996)
  • Time Bites (essays, 2004)
  • On Not Winning the Nobel Prize (Nobel Lecture, 2007, published 2008)

References

  1. "Biography". A Reader's Guide to The Golden Notebook & Under My Skin. HarperCollins. 1995. http://www.dorislessing.org/biography.html. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  2. "Guardian Unlimited: Doris Lessing". http://books.guardian.co.uk/authors/author/0,,86700,00.html. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  3. Hazelton, Lesley (11 October 2007). "`Golden Notebook' Author Lessing Wins Nobel Prize". Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=anexY5Z5sGgw&refer=home. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  4. Klein, Carole. "Doris Lessing". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/k/klein-lessing.html. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  5. "Doris Lessing". kirjasto.sci.fi. http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/dlessing.htm. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  6. Hazelton, Lesley (25 July 1982). "Doris Lessing on Feminism, Communism and 'Space Fiction'". The New York Times. http://mural.uv.es/vemivein/feminismcommunism.htm. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  7. "Author Lessing wins Nobel honour". BBC News Online. 11 October 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7039100.stm. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  8. http://www.gencat.net/pic/cat/index.htm
mrj:Лессинг, Дорис








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