Doris Lessing [ United Kingdom ]
Doris Lessing was born in 1919 in Kermanshah (now Iran), the daughter of British parents, and grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). She left school at the age of fourteen, doing various jobs. She later married the German Gottfried Lessing, whom she had met through progressive, communist circles in Rhodesia and moved to London in 1949 with the son who was born of this union, after the end of the marriage.
There she wrote the novel »The Grass is Singing« (1950), the first great success in an extremely prolific and successful literary career. The detective story, told with fine psychological observation against the backdrop of colonial Africa, revolves around Lessing's central theme: the individual's conflict between subjectivity and society. As in countless other of her stories and novels, the subsequent cycle, »Children of Violence«, shows features that are distinctly autobiographical. Whereas Lessing found recognition as a realistic storyteller in the Anglo-Saxon world early on, she became known in Continental Europe with »The Golden Notebook« (1962). The work found its place as a key book in the feminist movement – something the author herself ascribed to a misunderstanding. In its much-discussed, complex and innovative form, Lessing interweaves social criticism with a humanism that tries to understand the human being in his contradictory nature and his definitive social ties. The exploration of human interior worlds within the genre of »space fiction«, which Lessing favoured in the seventies and eighties, features both psychological and mystical influences, for example the author's examination of Sufism. In works such as the five-part novel series, »Canopus in Argos: Archives« (1979-1983) – set in visionary, sometimes apocalyptic, scenes – Lessing more than ever focused on the themes of evil and irrationality within the human psyche.
The author, whose work is considered classic in English post-war literature, has also published plays and essays. The second volume of the »Canopus« series inspired Philip Glass's opera »The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five«, which premiered in Heidelberg in 1997. In the nineties Lessing brought out two detailed autobiographical volumes recounting her life up until 1962. She has recently published four short stories under the title »The Grandmothers« (2003), followed by her novel »The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog«, a sequel to »Mara and Dann« (1999). The author, recipient of numerous prizes, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007. She lives in London.
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