Thursday, October 11, 2007

Doris Lessing Wins the Nobel Prize

Can't say I expected this, and looks like nobody else did either -- at least I never heard her mentioned by anyone who professes authority in these matters.

I've only read one of Lessing's many novels, but it was a big one for me: The Golden Notebook. I wrote a paper on it for a British Literature class -- one of the few papers (the first maybe?) which I did not put off to the last minute. Rather, in one of those mad, enthusiastic I'm-gonna-make-an-A-if-it-kills-me moods, I started on it in September, and worked on it for months, reading and re-reading, underscoring and writing all manner of marginal notes -- I wonder if the library still has my copy? -- writing and re-writing: a lot of effort for what was only supposed to be a six-page paper. I finally handed in about 12 or 13 pages I think. I quoted the book, I quoted the critics, I quoted Carly Simon. ("Last night I slept/in sheets the color of fire/Tonight I lie alone again/and curse my own desire" -- it echoed Anna Wulf's sexual ache somewhere in the book.)

I think what I so loved about it, eventhough I haven't read it since, was that it was one of the first meta-fictional novels I discovered on my own (the assignment was that we could choose any major 20th Century British novel) and I actually got it, or felt like I did, as it's this rather complex work about a woman's personal discovery, and it has an on-going novel-within-a-novel as she tries to put her experiences in perspective. I was also totally with Lessing in spirit; I was on her side as a feminist, I guess you'd say, which was based partly on an extraordinary lack of experience with women, back when I was inclined to think of the entire gender as vulnerable, terrorized, and no doubt endangered.

I even read Ms. and would say "Right on, sister!"

God only knows what I'd think if I read the book today -- would I sit there and go "Yeah, yeah, cry me a river"?

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