Book Report: The Golden Notebook
The author Doris May Lessing is a British writer. Her novels include The Golden Notebook, The Golden Notebook, and five other novels collectively known as Canopus in Academy. Lessing was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was described by the Swedish Academy as "that epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny". She was also the eleventh woman and the oldest ever person to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
It is a book that expresses the major themes of the world in its century. What we now call gender issues occupy a major portion of the novel, but it is just as much a picture of the Fear of humanity during the Cold War times, when everyday people were 30 minutes from doomsday. It is about racism and colonialism and the fading of empire; it is about the breakdown of society in the technological age; it is about single mothers; it is about mental states and breakdowns. It is about Communism, and have we not heard the 20th century called the Age of Communism? All this is not what makes this a great novel. Each time I've reread it, the more it seemed I could almost put my finger on something-a question of identity, or what it means to be human. "Breakdown" is a word appearing throughout the novel-by the end; it almost seems to mean "breaking through": break through the rhetoric, break through the categories. The Golden Notebook speaks to deep emotions-something there is that needs to shine through, to grow, to love and to be loved. This novel reached down to that. It is sometimes painful, sometimes provoking a fear/hate reaction, or a feeling of dislocation. This is the kind of book that you often have to slap down on the table, pace the room, and work off the tension that has built. Doris Lessing wrote once that she considered this novel something of a failure, for it only names the issues, exploring briefly,...
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