Doris Lessing wins Nobel

[quote]Doris Lessing, the Persian-born, Rhodesian-raised and London-residing novelist whose deeply autobiographical writing has swept across continents and reflects her deep feminist engagement with the major social and political issues, won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature today.

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy described her as “that epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny.” The award comes with a 10 million Swedish crown honorarium, about $1.6 million.

Ms. Lessing, who turns 88 later this month, never finished high school and largely educated herself through her voracious reading. She had been born to British parents in what is now Iran, was raised in colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and now lives in London. She has written dozens of books of fiction, as well as plays, non-fiction and an autobiography. She is the 11th woman to win a Nobel Prize in literature…[/quote]

Doris Lessing Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

I was hoping Philip Roth would win. But Lessing is as good a choice as anyone. I haven’t read her books in years, but I do recall enjoying her sci-fi chronicles. The Golden Notebook was a good read if a bit whiningly tedious at points with its dated feminism. I’d have to re-read some of her stuff again to get a clearer opinion, since like I said it has been years since I’ve read her. She’s certainly an angry and righteous person, that much I do remember from her books. One short story she wrote about a housewife who commits suicide still haunts me as one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read. Lessing I remember coming across as an extremely angry writer, negativism sliding into outright defeatism as she surveys the human race. In her way, even more misanthropic than Philip Roth.

Only read “The Good Terrorist” but that was an excellent look into the mindset of far-left fringe groups.

I’ve been a fan since the early eighties, when I read her poetry, and “Briefing for A…”

Very sharp Lady…
from the article:
“Although she has been held up as an early heroine of feminism, Ms. Lessing later disavowed that she herself was a feminist, for which she received the ire of some British critics and academics.”

“Ms. Lessing, who joined the Communist Party in Africa, repudiated Marxist theory during the Hungarian crisis of 1956, a view for which she was criticized by some British academics.”
and…a bit matter-of-fact about the prize…
“The phone rang again, Ms. Bryan said. It was another friend, whom Ms. Lessing was to meet that evening at a Chinese restaurant. She apologized and told him she couldn’t. She had just won the Nobel Prize.”

I remembered a NY Times article she wrote years ago on ‘Political Correctness’ and its similarity to communism.

Its…Questions You Should Never Ask a Writer
“WHILE we have seen the apparent death of Communism, ways of thinking that were either born under Communism or strengthened by Communism still govern our lives. Not all of them are as immediately evident as a legacy of Communism as political correctness.”

Quite the review.

I have to confess, I picked up a few of her books in used book shops, but have yet to crack one. [quote=“Hitchens: The Nobel Committee gets it right”]Almost intoxicating to see the Nobel committee do something honorable and creditable for a change … Harold Bloom might conceivably be right (actually, if it matters, I do think he is right) to say that Lessing hasn’t written much of importance for the last 15 or so years. But that’s not to say that she shouldn’t have received the Nobel laurels 20 years ago, if not sooner. (It was Hemingway who first acidly pointed out that authors tend to get the big prize either too early or too late. In his own case, he compared it with swimming ashore under his own steam and then being hit over the head with a life belt.)

To review the depth and extent of Lessing’s work is to appreciate that some writers really do live for language and are willing to take risks for it. It’s also to understand that there is some relationship between the hunger for truth and the search for the right words. This struggle may be ultimately indefinable and even undecidable, but one damn well knows it when one sees it.

I can remember with crystal precision when I first read her early fiction. It was in white-ruled Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), more than three decades ago. Two of her stories—The Grass Is Singing and This Was The Old Chief’s Country—combined the sad indistinctness of a melancholy memoir with the very exact realization that a huge injustice had been done to the “native” inhabitants of the land to which she had been transplanted. […] and if you ever want to read how it actually felt, and I mean truly felt, to believe in a Communist future with all your heart, her novels from that period will make it piercingly real for you.

Later on, and in a way that is now so familiar that we take it for granted, she gave up this animating faith. But not without writing about it in such a way as to make you catch your breath. There is a short fiction called “The Day Stalin Died” that would deserve reprinting in any anthology of the prose of the 20th century. I have only twice had the experience of reading a story that was so good, and that seemed so much to know what I might be thinking myself, that I was almost afraid to read on. The first time was with Katherine Mansfield, and the second was when holding Lessing’s tale “The Temptation of Jack Orkney” (which is incidentally also about a crisis of faith). Please make a resolution to acquire the volumes in which these occur. It will help you to determine the gold standard in modern writing. […]

The Nobel committee, saturated as usual in its obligation to be worthy, dutifully cites the “epic” element in Lessing’s pioneering feminism. Well, there is no need to disagree here. But in stressing the buried desires and ambitions of the female, and in forcing her readers to confront what in a sense they already “knew,” she rather tended to insist that what a real woman wanted was a real man. The making of this elemental point lost her almost as many admirers as it gained. But, once again, she simply could not employ her literary and emotional capacities for mere propaganda purposes.
I was touched and interested to see Doris Lessing photographed last week, outside the same row house in the rather rough and plebeian district of North London where she has lived for so many decades. Having been an avenging angel of sexuality in her youth, she doesn’t mind in the least looking a bit like a bag lady or a cat collector as she approaches her 90th year. (Actually, she once did produce rather a good book about felines.) There was a serenity to the scene: a person who has just happened to get the Nobel Prize but who really doesn’t need that sort of confirmation.[/quote]

Hmm… I wonder if some of the praise heaped on her will be withdrawn.

[quote=“BBC: Lessing says 9/11 ‘not that bad’”]
Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing has said that the 11 September attacks were “not that terrible” compared to the IRA’s terror campaign.

“Some Americans will think I’m crazy… but it was neither as terrible or as extraordinary as they think,” the writer told Spanish newspaper El Pais.
‘World calamity’

The author conceded that “many people died and two prominent buildings fell” in the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center in 2001.

“They’re a very naive people, or they pretend to be,” she added of Americans.

Lessing, whose novels include The Golden Notebook and Memoirs of a Survivor, also branded President George W Bush “a world calamity”.

“Everyone is tired of this man. Either he is stupid or he is very clever, although you have to remember he is a member of a social class which has profited from wars.”

The writer also said that she “always hated Tony Blair from the beginning”.[/quote]