Going ‘home’: exile and nostalgia in the writing of Doris Lessing

Susan Watkins

in Doris Lessing

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780719074813
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703274 | DOI:
Going ‘home’: exile and nostalgia in the writing of Doris Lessing

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Doris Lessing's key novels of the period 1945–1960 examine the years leading up to World War II and the early to middle years of the war itself. The umbrella title of the five-volume novel sequence is Children of Violence, which is indicative not only of Lessing's preoccupation with the war, but also of her wider analysis of its connection with the violence of the colonial encounter. Her novels in this period mark the tentative emergence of more plural, fluid notions about race and gender and the interconnections between them. A narrative voice that might almost be characterised as nostalgic for those aspects of the war which created an impulse for decolonisation is important in the novels of this period. The critical or creative nostalgia of the fiction can be instructively compared with the narrative perspective in Lessing's 1957 essay, Going Home, which details her first return to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) after an absence of eight years. Going Home situates ‘home’ as a wandering site of nostalgia, exile and alienation.

Keywords: Doris Lessing; World War II; Children of Violence; violence; colonial encounter; race; gender; nostalgia; exile; alienation

Chapter.  8092 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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