Read The Good Terrorist by Doris Lessing Free Online
Book Title: The Good Terrorist|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.57 MB
v The author of the book: Doris Lessing
Edition: Jonathan Cape
Date of issue: January 1st 1985
ISBN 13: 9780224023238
City - Country: No data
Read full description of the books The Good Terrorist:My admiration for Nobel laureate Doris Lessing continues to grow with this novel about a naïve group of revolutionaries living in a squat in mid-1980s London.
Lessing’s triumph is getting deep inside the complex mind of Alice Mellings, a spoilt, entitled and very clever upper-middle-class woman in her 30s who acts like the squat’s den mother and is filled with contradictions.
Alice detests the striving, materialistic middle classes, and yet she enjoys – really thrives on – fixing up her squat and feeding her lazy comrades. She hates that her parents have split up, and yet she’s enmeshed in a doomed relationship with a man named Jasper who’s clearly closeted and is repulsed by her physically. And she loathes capitalism, although she’s all too ready to steal cash and valuables from her parents and their friends.
What’s remarkable is that Lessing lets us see things through Alice’s perspective, but also shows us how appalling her behaviour is on a human level. Alice is such a good judge of human behaviour, but lacks the ability to understand her own failings. I imagine Lessing drew on her observations and experiences – and eventual disillusionment – with the Communist party decades earlier.
It’s never really clear what the revolutionaries in this book want to do or achieve. At first they want to join the I.R.A. Then there’s talk about Russia. Some of them affect working class accents to seem legitimate, even while ignoring actual working class people in their midst. No one discusses politics, but they go to the odd demonstration, occasionally quote Lenin and call anyone they disagree with “fascists.”
While the book ticks away quietly for 300 pages, taken up with all manner of domestic and bureaucratic matters, Lessing sets the stage for a truly explosive finale. The casual way the climax is handled will make you think about the randomness and sheer banality of some terrorist acts and organizations.
Besides Alice, and perhaps Alice’s mom, Dorothy, who’s also disillusioned (is it a coincidence that Lessing’s given them both names that evoke fictional girls who find themselves in fantastic, often scary worlds?), the characters aren’t all that well-rounded. But that’s intentional. One of the most disturbing things about the book is how the revolutionaries don’t care about human life, only their own needs. When someone leaves, or attempts suicide, or even dies? Meh. They barely care. (Comrades, indeed.) Alice does, but is it because she’s “well brought up,” earning that adjective in the book’s title?
This book is proof that you don’t necessarily have to like a book’s characters to be engrossed by them. Alice’s insights and frustrating contradictions will haunt me, as will Lessing’s brilliant, disturbing image of burying shit – literally, buckets of human waste – in one’s back yard.
Sooner or later, that buried crap will come back. And Christ almighty will it be messy.
Read information about the authorBoth of her parents were British: her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia; her mother had been a nurse. In 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, the family moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Like other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school (such as Olive Schreiner and Nadine Gordimer), Lessing made herself into a self-educated intellectual.
In 1937 she moved to Salisbury, where she worked as a telephone operator for a year. At nineteen, she married Frank Wisdom, and had two children. A few years later, feeling trapped in a persona that she feared would destroy her, she left her family, remaining in Salisbury. Soon she was drawn to the like-minded members of the Left Book Club, a group of Communists "who read everything, and who did not think it remarkable to read." Gottfried Lessing was a central member of the group; shortly after she joined, they married and had a son.
During the postwar years, Lessing became increasingly disillusioned with the Communist movement, which she left altogether in 1954. By 1949, Lessing had moved to London with her young son. That year, she also published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, and began her career as a professional writer.
In June 1995 she received an Honorary Degree from Harvard University. Also in 1995, she visited South Africa to see her daughter and grandchildren, and to promote her autobiography. It was her first visit since being forcibly removed in 1956 for her political views. Ironically, she is welcomed now as a writer acclaimed for the very topics for which she was banished 40 years ago.
In 2001 she was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in Literature, one of Spain's most important distinctions, for her brilliant literary works in defense of freedom and Third World causes. She also received the David Cohen British Literature Prize.
She was on the shortlist for the first Man Booker International Prize in 2005. In 2007 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
(Extracted from the pamphlet: A Reader's Guide to The Golden Notebook & Under My Skin, HarperPerennial, 1995. Full text available on www.dorislessing.org).
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