Sweet dreams and rememories: narrating nation and identity

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:
Sweet dreams and rememories: narrating nation and identity

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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Working on the two volumes of her autobiography, Under My Skin (1994) and Walking in the Shade (1997), must have heightened Doris Lessing's interest in the question of how to narrate the past. In Lessing's note to her 2001 novel, The Sweetest Dream, she explained that she was not writing a third volume of her autobiography ‘because of possible hurt to vulnerable people’. In her writing in this period, Lessing makes use of notions of city, home and memory, revising the notion of ‘home’ so that it becomes capable of both recognising racial and national differences and moving outside them. She also interprets memory as productive for the individual and the nation only when it becomes, as Toni Morrison would say, ‘rememory’: when it can acknowledge the importance of imagination in dealing with trauma and thus suggest the fluctuating, mobile status of identity. This chapter discusses Lessing's use of particular conceptions of the city and the home as a means of exploring connections between race, nation and identity.

Keywords: Doris Lessing; autobiography; Sweetest Dream; city; home; memory; rememory; nation; identity; race

Chapter.  8686 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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