Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing is the author, most recently, of the novel The Fifth Child, and of a book, The wind blows away our words, about the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan.

Unwritten Novels

Doris Lessing, 11 January 1990

I like to imagine that I am reading a piece headed ‘Unwritten Novels’:


That Sadist

12 March 1992

Angus Calder’s review (LRB, 12 March) of Frank McLynn’s books about Richard Burton says little about the books, but a good deal about his prejudices against Burton. Calder presents Burton as a posturing charlatan and finds it remarkable that he continues to attract biographers. What is more remarkable is that Burton continues to attract malice as much as he did in his lifetime, when men...


24 January 1991

The review of the biography of Naomi Mitchison (LRB, 24 January) made Carradale House in Scotland sound like Dotheboys Hall, yet I visited there several times in the Fifties, and remember it for its good food, its wine, and above all, the company. Naomi has the gift of friendship, and with many different kinds of people – who were very happy to be invited to Argyll, where they might find thirty...
In your issue of 8 March Robin Blackburn claims The Golden Notebook as a product of the milieu of the New Left. This is quite untrue unless the New Left is now retrospectively to be expanded to include ideas which in fact it was impossible to discuss with any of the people I knew, most of whom were much younger that I was, and who I thought of as intellectual socialists. The Golden Notebook was not...

Doris Lessing is now saying she finds it more of a nuisance than a pleasure to have won the Nobel Prize. Considering the scope of her achievements it seems that a convergence of the twain –...

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Yeti: Doris Lessing

Elizabeth Lowry, 22 March 2001

When Doris Lessing brought out the first two volumes of her autobiography, Under My Skin (1994) and Walking in the Shade (1997), she did so, as she explained, partly in...

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Baby Brothers

Dinah Birch, 18 April 1996

How does someone of Doris Lessing’s uncompromising intelligence turn into a little old lady? Not easily, especially if body conspires with mind in refusing to retire gracefully. ‘Most...

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Pointing Out the Defects

Hilary Mantel, 22 December 1994

Perhaps it is the timing of her birth which has refined her sense of scale, has made her able to see how the single ant works and worries in the social heap. ‘That was important,’...

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One Eye on the Neighbours

Jeremy Harding, 22 April 1993

The American writer, William Finnegan, went to Mozambique in 1988. He had already written for the New Yorker about the war and Pretoria’s support for Renamo (Resistência Nacional...

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You bet your life

Margaret Walters, 21 April 1988

Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda is a tall story, as elaborate and fantastical as any of the yarns spun by the trickster hero of his last novel Illywhacker. For one thing, it’s a...

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Patricia Craig, 19 September 1985

‘But for Bunter the result might have been serious,’ says a character in the Magnet ‘India’ series of 1926, giving credit to the fat schoolboy blunderer whose tomfoolery...

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Stephen Bann, 16 June 1983

The less there is to see, the more there is to say. Such might be the motto of the Beckett enthusiast. An ingenious recent article by James Hansford devotes almost twenty pages to a story whose...

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Women against Men

Anita Brookner, 2 September 1982

The Golden Notebook takes one back not only in time but in consciousness. It is just 20 years old, and yet, reread from the standpoint of 1982, it seems to belong to an immensely confusing...

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Queen to King Four

Robert Taubman, 19 June 1980

In Shikasta, some months ago, Doris Lessing engaged with space fiction at its most apocalyptic, covered aeons of time and used scores of characters, and left some doubt about her meaning. All is...

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Doris Lessing’s Space Fiction

Robert Taubman, 20 December 1979

Shikasta, in Doris Lessing’s novel, is our earth, and Shikasta is short for a very long title that speaks of personal, psychological and historical documents filed on this subject on the...

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