The British author, Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007, was an emblem of the struggle against Apartheid and social injustices, she faced communism and with her work “The Golden Notebook” she became a flag of the feminist movement
By Thelma ReinefeldOctober 22, 2019 Share on FacebookShare Share on TwitterTweet Share on WhatsAppShare
Doris Lessing (Justin Williams / Shutterstock)
Emblem of the struggle against Apartheid and against labels, Doris Lessing (Kermanshah, Iran; October 22, 1919 – London; November 17, 2013), dedicated much of her work to the recognition of women as a catalyst figure in the vital happening, not only in the exercise of fiction but in his life itself. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007 and the Prince of Asturias in 2001 , today the world celebrates the centenary of her birth.
In the company of her parents, both British Protestants, she lived as a child in the English colony of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). His father, who had been crippled by the first war, and his mother, a nurse, decided to settle in 1925 in that wild town to dedicate themselves to growing corn. Apparently, the desire for a balanced life, adjusted to moral precepts and accompanied by a hopeful fortune that his mother so desired, did not crystallize. Trapped in a contrary outcome, where the planted acres did not bring them wealth or peace, Lessing lived her childhood as an intense mixture of satisfaction and excess of pain.
Sent early to a convent, she had to endure the infernal stories that came from the fury of God (and the nuns), to later study at a secondary school, which she would leave at thirteen. Doris Lessing thus began her self-taught training. At 14 he left home, married at 18 and later divorced, abandoning his first two children; She fought hard against the racist regime of the colony and in the midst of all the rebellion that honored her character, she entered the communist party as a militant, being expelled from South Africa in 1956. Apparently, according to documents from the Kew National Archives in London, the novelist was spied on for approximately 18 years, her correspondence also being intercepted, to materialize her expulsion.
Lessing with the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature (Richard Young / Shutterstock)
Years later, making an evaluation of Stalin's crimes and the invasion of Russian troops in Hungary, he left the militancy and openly denounced communism, which brought him numerous criticisms and powerful detractors. Despite having declared himself an atheist at some point, from the readings of his autobiography Un paseo por la sombra (1998), the confession of a change of route at the end of the fifties, when he converted to Sufism through from his teacher Idries Shah, delving into oriental spirituality.
One of the elements that structures his work is the search for social justice, through his clear anti-racist stance; However, something that crosses and goes through like a howl throughout his production is the reference to the terrible relationship with his mother. Lessing was a writer determined to exorcise any kind of domination, including the sobering arm of her mother. In an interview with journalist Rosa Montero in 1997, she said: “My whole generation has frustrated and bitter mothers. And we were all trying to escape who they were. ”
His strength, however, is due to all the harshness he experienced in his growing years, so much so that he expressed: “There is a hardness and rigor in me that surely come from my mother. And I'm glad, because she was certainly a very resistant woman. ”
The author wrote about 50 titles of autobiographical features; Memoirs of a Survivor , published in 1975, should be mentioned especially, a metaphor about frustrations, fears, loneliness and the encouragement to fight against them. He experimented with science fiction ( Canopus in Argus , (1979-83) series of 5 books) and wrote about cats ( Particularly Cats , 1967), as they were his obsession. In some lines of his autobiography Lessing confesses to having mourned the death of his cats for ten days.
All his stories set in Africa, published during the fifties and early sixties, denounce the dispossession of black Africans by white settlers and expose the sterility of white culture in the south of the continent, in addition to describing cruel behavior and treatment openly segregationist. In this context, she writes the work that makes her famous, Sing the grass .
The theme of genres is developed in La grieta (2007). Disparate criticisms abound among ordinary readers and specialists, for the treatment of fiction in an anthropological discussion: the existing inequalities between men and women; However, the presence of a Roman historian with an omniscient voice clarifies the darkest points of the novel.
Versatile author, she exercised freedom both in her intimate decisions and in her literary work. He produced novels, short stories, plays, essays, articles, and opera librettos. He published two novels under the assumed name Jane Somers , just to gauge the editors' reaction. He wrote his autobiography in two volumes Inside Me (1994), which in English was titled Under my skyn , and Un paseo por la sombra (1997). She never liked the word “sublimate”, however she confesses the catharsis that writing meant for her, even under the danger of going crazy because of the awareness of feeling so different from others: “I don't think I was afraid of madness, because, first, I cast my fears out through literature, that is, I wrote my fear of madness ”.
His most autobiographical works
Lessing pioneered the feminist approach, without dogmatism: “When one is a writer belonging to the English tradition, one must be aware of and feel grateful for a heritage that means not having to fight as a woman to be published and valued. In England women have made their living as writers for centuries, and at times by protesting vigorously against their fate. My grateful awareness of this heritage is the reason why I subscribe to Virginia Woolf's maxim, according to which women writers will be free when, sitting down to write, they do not think whether or not they write as women ”. Despite his critical stance, the general opinion is that The Golden Notebook of 1962 is his most important work.
The book tells the story of the tumultuous life of Anna Wulf, a communist writer who comes to experience a deep crisis. Trying to understand herself, she resorts to writing in a fragmented and systematic way a chapter of her existence in several notebooks to which she assigns a color. The red dedicated to politics, the yellow that narrates his experiences and the blue that is outlined like a newspaper. After this exercise, he realizes that he does not manage to sketch a complete image of his transit, so he begins to write the golden notebook, where he longs to unite the loose ends of his own life.
Autobiographical in nature, this novel has been the banner of the feminist movement over the years, however, Professor Carme Riera in a conference on Doris Lessing offered at the Juan March Foundation earlier this year, believes that as a vindication of the feminist cause, the work has lost its validity. Nevertheless, it stands out for its literary quality and the libertarian flight of its essence within the historical context in which it was written and reviews how the work had to wait for 1978 to be translated in Spain due to Franco's limitations. Riera affirms that The Golden Notebook will endure in time as an emblem of struggle and bravery.
In relation to her work, seen from our contemporaneity, she unreservedly qualifies Doris Lessing as a classic author, which guarantees us many years of reading, transferable from generation to generation.
One hundred years after the birth of this extraordinary woman of letters, it seems that her emancipated spirit will once again travel the African savannas to drink, without conditioning, the elixir of the goddesses.