Saturday, May 2, 2009

On reading a tribal historian like Doris Lessing

I have looked for the novel, "The Golden Notebook" for years, but never found it at a price I could afford until the other day. Note that this woman, Doris Lessing, won the Nobel Prize for literature with this 635 page novel published in 1962 as the centerpiece of her work. The main thing I am finding so interesting about this novel is it features British characters who joined the communist party, full blown, with all their faults and failings. People got so frightened of the black lists and persecution they were afraid to write openly about having been a member of the party. Not Doris who does not let anything stop her, and the result is a delight. This novel is unlike any I have ever read about politics. I think it is closer to the truth than any novel I have read about the way people joined the party both in England and in the United States and how they dealt with the news of slave camps and liquidations that came out of Russia which began to trouble so many 'idealists'. I know I became disallusioned before I could ever be persuaded to join, even though some of my university friends did join. In fact, I think many of those who thought communism would be good for the poor especially with the distribution of the wealth became the inspiration of the far left liberals of today.
Having been poor most of my life, I was naturally very interested in any ideas about distributing the wealth, any system of beliefs that would value the poor as well as the rich citizens of the world, which out and out capitalism did not seem to do in the long run, as most Americans thought it would.
I do think, as a matter of fact, that the rich and the poor have never come closer to being on the same ground in this country as with this recession which has hit the wealthy hard as well as the poor. The middle class has also lost chunks of their savings through relying too heavily on the success of capitalism to keep their retirement investment in the stock markets safe. We have all been humbled, frightened, and disallusioned, rich and poor a like.
The only exceptions, of course, would be the really rich who may have taken off to Dubaii to live with their billions or south America, but they are the few.
So for me a novel is valuable that adds to my knowledge of the young intelligentsia like Doris Lessing would have been and how they viewed the distribution of the wealth in their time. And what they did with their ideas though the ideology of the communist party which was really quite laughable at times from her view, living as a communist while possessing the very human traits that always get us in trouble. Like inconsistency, instability of character and emotion, and inability to implement a system like communism into their 'real' and sometimes very chaotic lives.


LaRena said...

Your quite the scholar to be tackling a book like that by Doris Lessing. I had one of her books on dreams that was interesting but I found even that quite hard to read. I just took a glance to see if I still had that book, but I think I gave it away. However another one of her's named " Sentimental Agents in Voyen Empire" caught my eye." If I really do get some glasses I can read better with,I'll read it. The retinal Specialist I saw this week said he knew someone he thought could do much better than anything I have. I'm hoping he is right. I'll save this one for when you get finished with you 635 pages. You may want to read it.

Cathy said...

My goodness do I ever remember what blacklisting did to decent people, esp creative ones. Members of the American Communist Party were fed to the Congressional lions, and lost their livelihoods. How much better are we off today when ppl can be jailed for years w/o even a bail hearing? Interesting post.

Ann said...

What year did she win the Nobel Prize?? It must be some book. I would like to try. I am always interested in what wins the nobel prize!
I have read several books about blacklisting and about the people jailed, not able to work, etc. It was quite the time for alarm.

Cheryl said...

I just got her new book, Alfred and Emily today. I forgot to tell my book club not to send this month's selection and it was the choice. So I must be suppose to read a little Doris Lessing. I have a copy of your book some place. I'll have to find it and read it as well.


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