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the 2016 issue of Doris Lessing Studies

The new issue of the Society’s academic journal, Doris Lessing Studies, is now available! This year we welcome volume 34 to the collection.

As with last year, the journal is first published here on our web site, in PDF format, for members to download. The contents will also shortly appear in EBSCO’s and ProQuest’s literature databases; contact your library for access instructions to these academic resources. Here is a link to our online archive, where the issue can be downloaded, and here is the page to become a member.

The table of contents for this year’s issue:

  • Letter from the President, Cornelius Collins
  • Letter from the Co-Editors, Mark Pedretti and Robin Visel
  • After Aldermaston: Doris Lessing and the Problem of Revolution in the Nuclear Age, Mark Pedretti
  • Reading Forward: The Fractal Texts of Doris Lessing and David Mitchell, Robin Visel
  • Comparative Empires: Diaspora and Hybridity in Children of Violence and Canopus in Argos: Archives, Linda Weinhouse
  • Ageism and Gender Performativity in The Summer Before the Dark, Sima Aghazadeh
  • Becoming Jane Somers: Constructing Authorship, Genre, and Age in The Diary of a Good Neighbour, Kortney Stern
  • She Wrote Past Us: Early Readings of Doris Lessing, Linda Chown
  • Review: “So much depends . . . upon distance”: Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook After Fifty, Debrah Raschke
  • List of Society Officers
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new edited collection: Doris Lessing and the Forming of History

Today marks the appearance of an exciting new collection of essays on Doris Lessing: Doris Lessing and the Forming of History, published by Edinburgh University Press. The volume, which had its genesis at the successful 2014 Doris Lessing conference in Plymouth, England, was edited by Kevin Brazil, David Sergeant, and Tom Sperlinger, and it features contributions from several Society members. The collection offers the first comprehensive, retrospective view of Lessing’s writings across her career, focusing specially on the innovations in literary form she made in response to the historical changes she lived to witness. This book will be a pivotal reference for Lessing scholars over the coming decade. More information at the publisher’s web site, here.

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The breadth and freshness of these essays, introduced by the co-editors’ fine overview of Doris Lessing’s expressions of historical change through literary forms, reinforces the author’s undiminished appeal to contemporary scholars and readers. Exploring formal elements of Lessing’s work—characterization, humour, readership, and film and dream analogues—along with politics and history, human evolution, climate change, and time travel, these essays are timely, ambitious, and intellectually engaging.
– Roberta Rubenstein, American University

new site resource: short Lessing biography

There’s a new page on the site, under the Resources tab: a short but substantial biography of Doris Lessing, written by Society member Linda E. Chown. This biographical essay focuses on the phases of the author’s life from her birth in 1919 to the early 1980s. Chown’s text is not just factual, but also richly sourced with extensive quotations from published Lessing interviews, some of them now rare. Therefore it should be a valuable resource to students and scholars as a serious introductory biography. For insight into the later years, we are all now awaiting the publication of the authorized biography, now being written!

Jenny Diski’s memoirs of life with Doris Lessing

The current issue of the New York Review of Books features a lengthy review, by Hermione Lee, of Jenny Diski’s memoir, In Gratitude, which was published earlier in 2016. Diski died of cancer this spring, just days after the book saw publication in the UK.

96548932-xlarge_transqvzuuqpflyliwib6ntmjwfsvwez_ven7c6bhu2jjnt8Much of the memoir focuses on Diski’s complex relationship with Doris Lessing. After breaking with her parents, Diski lived several years in Lessing’s care, in the author’s London home during the 1960s. Diski went on to a successful writing career from the 1980s forward. On receiving her cancer diagnosis in 2014, Diski began in the London Review of Books a series of essays that in large part explored her memories of Lessing. Published as In Gratitude, the collection is the most substantial literary reflection on Doris Lessing to appear since her death in 2013.

 

For those interested in the reception of Diski’s book — particularly its perspective on Lessing — below are links to a range of notices and reviews, in reverse chronological order. Feel free to submit reviews you think should be listed here by contacting us.

Hermione Lee, “The Triumph of Jenny Diski,” New York Review of Books

Andrea DenHoed, “Jenny Diski’s Way of Seeing Beyond the Story,” New Yorker

Heidi Julavitis, “Jenny Diski’s In Gratitude,” New York Times

Martin Rubin, “Book Review: In Gratitude,” Washington Times

Anne Enright, “Writing against the clock,” Irish Times

Hester Abrams, “Review: In Gratitude,” Jewish Chronicle Online

Marion McLeod, “Book of the Week,” The Spinoff (New Zealand)

Jane Shilling, “Life with Doris: the lesser of two evils,” Daily Mail

Tim Adams, “On death … and Doris,” The Guardian

Writer Jenny Diski dies aged 68, BBC News

Jenny Diski interview by Lynn Barber, The Sunday Times (subscription required)

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