Author of “The Golden Notebook” was an icon of feminism
Doris Lessing, Nobel Prize winning author and feminist icon, died Sunday. She was 94.
Her enduring contribution to literature came with the 1962 publication of “The Golden Notebook,” a sprawling and technically ambitious work that followed the peripatetic life of writer Anna Wulf. The post-modern classic charted Wulf’s emotional struggles through an intersecting series of journal entries, while also tackling communism, nuclear conflagration, sexual liberation and maternity.
Lessing authored more than 50 novels, ranging from semi-autobiographical chronicles to science fiction tales. Among her works are “The Good Terrorist,” “Memoirs of a Survivor” and “The Grass is Singing,” which explored class struggle, colonialism and women’s issues.
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In 2007, Lessing won the Nobel Prize in Literature, with the Swedish Academy hailing her as ”that epicist of the female experience.” At 88, she was the oldest recipient of the prize to that point.
“I’m 88 years old and they can’t give the Nobel to someone who’s dead, so I think they were probably thinking they’d probably better give it to me now before I’ve popped off,” Lessing said at the time.
Not everyone was thrilled with her selection, with literary critic Harold Bloom slamming the selection as an instance of political correctness.
Lessing’s concerns were global in scope, which manifested itself in the far-flung locations of many of her works and was perhaps a reflection of a childhood spent in the Middle East and Africa. Born to a banker in Iran, her family eventually settled in Southern Rhodesia, where she lived until the age of 29.
Her personal life was colorful, but also rocky. She had two failed marriages and abandoned two of her children with their father in Africa when she moved to England to pursue her writing career.
Lessing is survived by her daughter Jean and two granddaughters.
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