Critical overview and conclusion

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:
Critical overview and conclusion

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Before she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007, Doris Lessing's reputation (in the UK at least) was looking rather shaky. Many commentaries on the Nobel Prize focused on The Golden Notebook as Lessing's most important book and included comparatively little about the rest of her literary output in the latter half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. Feminist criticism of Lessing's work has, to some extent, followed a trajectory between what we might call gynocriticism and gynesis, even if many critics (feminist and otherwise) still fail to acknowledge the formal innovations of her writing. Gayle Greene's 1994 book, Doris Lessing: The Poetics of Change was written some time after the second wave of feminism in the 1960s and 1970s, but she begins by noting that Lessing's work presented ‘the malaise that produced the second wave of feminism…in political terms’. Lessing's recent writing has clearly concerned itself with the interesting intersections and overlaps between gender and class, sexuality, ‘race’, nation and age.

Keywords: Doris Lessing; Nobel Prize; Golden Notebook; feminism; gynocriticism; gynesis; Gayle Greene; gender; class; race

Chapter.  7313 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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