Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature today.
The Times piece has a great photo of her sitting on her front steps in London, surrounded by reporters. She was apparently out shopping when it was announced, and learned of the prize from the reporters when she returned home.
The Swedish Academy described her as: "the epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny."
Lessing is 88 years old and I’ve always thought she rocked. The Times article mentions how she never finished high school and educated herself through reading. I bought a copy of The Golden Notebook, her seminal work, this summer at the beach, and this edition has an introduction Lessing wrote in which she describes the benefits of this type of education.
I always loved the idea of The Golden Notebook, because it is the story of a woman becoming whole. Anna, the heroine, keeps four notebooks. The black one is about her early years in Africa; the red one about her political life (chiefly communism, which seems rather quaint now); the yellow contains a novel she is writing and the blue one is her diary. By the end of the book she has brought all four threads together into one golden notebook.
I’m still trying to get all my various notebooks into one. Let’s see, I’ve got two green ones, a purple polka dot one, a purple striped one, one with a black over and blue letters saying "journal" on the cover, one with a brown cover that started life as a sketchbook….and those are just the ones I can glance quickly around and see. I think I love my notebooks way too much to coordinate them into one.
But I digress. The Golden Notebook has inspired legions of feminists. The Academy noted: "The burgeoning feminist movement saw it as a pioneering work and it belongs to the handful of books that informed the 20th century view of the male-female relationship."
So it is interesting to me that the two males that I’ve mentioned Lessing’s name to today have never heard of her.
Lessing also writes science fiction upon occasion, and I’m sure that has the knickers of the literary establishment in a twist. I adore science fiction myself.