The Short Story:
The Mother of the Child in Question
The Mother of the Child In Question is one of the short story collections in Doris Lessing’s book “The Real Thing: Stories and Sketches” which is the first new work of fiction from her since her highly acclaimed novel, The Fifth Child. The stories and sketches in this collection penetrate to the heart of human experience with the passion and intelligence readers have come to expect of. Most of the pieces are set in contemporary London, a city the author loves for its variety, its populations from everywhere in the world, its transitoriness, the way it connects the life of animals and birds in the parks to streets so old they have forgotten they ever had anything to do with nature.
Lessing's fiction often explores the darker corners of relationships between women and men, illuminating the courage and resilience of women in particular. "The Real Thing," the rich and emotionally complex title story of the collection, uncovers a more parlous reality behind the facade of the most conventional relationships.
Doris Lessing is a British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. She was awarded Nobel Prize in Literature in the year 2007. Swedish Academy described her as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny”. Lessing was the eleventh woman and the oldest person to ever receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Lessing was born Doris May Tayler in Iran, then known as Persia, on 22 October 1919, to Captain Alfred Tayler and Emily Maude Tayler (née McVeagh), who were both English and of British nationality. She was educated at the Dominican Convent High School, a Roman Catholic convent all-girls school in Salisbury. She left school at the age of 14, and was self-educated from there on; she left home at 15 and worked as a nursemaid. She started reading material that her employer gave her, on politics and sociology and began writing around this time. In the 1937 Lessing moved to Salisbury to work as a telephone operator, and she soon married her first husband, Frank Wisdom, with whom she had two children before the marriage ended in 1943. Following her first divorce, Lessing's interest was drawn to the popular community of the Left Book Club, a communist book club which she had joined the year before. It was here that she met her future second husband, Gottfried Lessing. They were married shortly after she joined the group, and had a child together before the marriage failed and ended in divorce in 1949. After these two failed marriages, she has not been married since. Later on Gottfried Lessing became the East German ambassador to Uganda, and was murdered in the 1979 rebellion against Idi Amin Dada. When she fled to London to pursue her writing career and communist beliefs, she left two toddlers with their father in South Africa (another, from her second marriage, went with her). She later said that at the time she thought she had no choice: "For a long time I felt I had done a very brave thing. There is nothing more boring for an intelligent woman than to spend endless amounts of time with small children. I felt I wasn't the best person to bring them up. I would have ended up an alcoholic or a frustrated intellectual like my mother."
Due to her campaigning against nuclear arms and South African apartheid, Lessing was banned from that country and from Rhodesia for many years. She moved to London with her youngest son in 1949 and her first novel. In 1984, Doris Lessing attempted to publish two novels under a pseudonym, Jane Somers, to show the difficulty new authors faced in trying to have their works in print. The novels were declined by Lessing's UK publisher, but was later...