A Tribute to Doris Lessing
Doris Lessing had been a phenomenal name in the field of English Literature. Born in Iran in 1919 she recently passed away at an age of 94. She wrote umpteen stuff during her writing career which started with short stories for magazines. I have only read one of her short story, “Flight” when I was in VIII and at the same time she won the Nobel! It was a sort of proud moment for me to have a Nobel laureate in my course!! I was thinking to write something about her but never knew what should be apt. I am no literature buff, so I cannot write a review or criticism nor have I followed her closely to write anything substantial. So I thought to summarise her biography for those who are naive about this British novelist’s life.
Post Doris’s birth the Tyler family moved to Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia at that time). Doris completed her schooling from Harare and left home to be a nursemaid at an age of 15. At the same time her tryst with writing started brewing.
Terming her childhood as mixture of pain and pleasure Doris considered her retreats to the outside world with Harry, her brother, the much needed relief from her mother’s Edwardian obsession. Lessing says:
“Yes, I think that is true. Though it wasn’t apparent to me then. Of course, I wasn’t thinking in terms of being a writer then – I was just thinking about how to escape, all the time.”
Soon she got married and got busy in raising her two kids. She got divorced in 1943 and then found her next spouse, Mr. Peter Lessing through her literary endeavors at the Left Book Club which as the name suggests was Communist.
After getting divorced again in 1949 she moved to England with her youngest son while leaving the older ones with their Dad.
Lessing’s food for thought were the umpteen readings of writers like Dickens, Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Tolstoy etc apart from her mother’s bedtime stories.
Doris is noted particularly for depiction of women which are the central characters of her writing. Again I want to quote Lessing here:
“There is a whole generation of women and it was as if their lives came to a stop when they had children. Most of them got pretty neurotic – because, I think, of the contrast between what they were taught at school that they were capable of being and what actually happened to them.”
She is regarded as the “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny“, as summarised by the Sewdish Academy.
The Golden Notebook and its character Anna Wulf have been the best representatives of Lessing’s prowess.
Apart from the Nobel Prize Lessing is also the recipient of prestigious awards like David Cohen British Literature Prize,Prince of Asturias Prize in Literature and the Companion of Honour by Queen Elizabeth II. Her demise has indeed created a vacuum in the literary circles. May her soul rest in peace.