SMALL PERSONAL VOICE by Doris Lessing

SMALL PERSONAL VOICE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Assorted insights and opinions dom assorted book reviews, essays, interviews including a new preface to The Golden Notebook which redefines Doris Lessing's best known book from several facets (which she claims eluded most critics) and not necessarily as a pro-feminist statement (even if Anna did say -- did she not -- that the real revolution of our time is that of "women against men"). We know the various positions Lessing has taken and they are of course asserted here -- whether on the disintegration of society and perhaps worse to come (which will make Women's Lib only seem "quaint" at some future time); on education (she left school at fourteen and benefited from her own ability to read or discard what she wanted); on madness or breakdown as she interpreted it, before Laing, as a form of self-healing; on the falling away of life in general and the small-mindedness of the systems imposed on it; etc. etc. etc. There is a touching piece on "My Father" who ended up "a thin shabby fly-away figure under the stars" and the reviews are variously on Malcolm X and Idries Shah and Sufism, Vonnegut and the little known Eugene Marais, Isak Dinesen and Olive Schreiner whose Story of an African Farm (1885) was recently reprinted. Necessarily in this form, or rather these forms, a certain repetitiousness is invited; inconsistency is also not hard to find; but all of that is incidental to what is really important for and about Doris Lessing. The title essay is where you will find her at her strongest -- contending that the realistic novel, particularly of the 19th century, is the "highest form of prose writing" and that the novel should entail warmth, compassion, a love of people (as against Camus, Sartre, Genet, Beckett and their "acceptance of disgust" which betrays it) and make "a statement of faith in man himself." All in all, both controversially and reconcilably, a stimulus, an illumination, a pleasure.
Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1974
ISBN: 0006547591
Page count: 235pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1974




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