Doris Lessing stands as one of fiction’s great polymaths, her work covering everything from acute social consciousness to acclaimed biography, poetry and science fiction. Along the way, Lessing was recipient to a swathe of literary awards, from the James Tait Black Memorial Prize to the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The Children of Violence Series
Canopus in Argos: Archives
Non-Fiction by Doris Lessing
Lessing’s complex formative years in the then Southern Rhodesia cast a long shadow over her work and political awareness, her leftist leanings and stance against racism ultimately attracting the attentions of British Intelligence. The Grass is Singing, her 1950 debut of South African politics and race, immediately established her name, but it was the distinctly post-modern The Golden Notebook of 1962 that marked Lessing’s genius. This, and novels like 1971’s searing Briefing for a Descent into Hell, were far more concerned with our inner journey than the societal pressures of her debut.
Ever intellectually restless, Lessing’s gradual disillusionment with Communism and absorption in the Islamic belief system of Sufism led to five volumes of relatively radical science fiction, Canopus in Argos: Archives, beginning with Shikasta of 1979. By 1985, in The Good Terrorist, Lessing had returned to political matters closer to home and in the mid-nineties took on her own two-volume autobiography, starting with 1994’s Under My Skin. Lessing declined both a DBE and an OBE and passed away in 2013, six years after earning her Nobel Prize.
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