Doris Lessing

Still going strong after six decades of creative output.

Article by Bram Gieben | 14 Aug 2006
Among today's literary young guns, there is a certain blank-eyed uselessness: a pre-packaged functionality of both prose and person. It is no doubt a blinkered opinion to dismiss all the Zadie Smiths and Nick Hornbys of this world in one sweeping gesture, but when you consider the calibre of the writers who are their living peers, the new BritLit wannabes can sometimes appear mere gnats.

One such literary heavyweight is Doris Lessing. Born in what was then Persia in 1919, her British parents raised her in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and the tensions between her adopted homelands and her colonial upbringing were to have great influence on her thinking. An intellectual by dint of strong will more than education, she came to international acclaim as a novelist in the 50s for her 'Children of Violence' series.

Some of Lessing's most inventive works are her space-set 'Canopus in Argus' series. Her wry, emotionally tortuous commentaries on the various worlds she depicts provide a window through which to view feminism, colonialism, and the enduring power of myth.

Lessing will be reading excerpts from her latest work of speculative fiction and discussing her remarkable and ambitious career. We can only hope that come Zadie Smith's sixth decade of writing, she will have as much to talk about.
Doris Lessing appears at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, RBS Main Theatre, August 14, 4:30pm.