cover image The Doris Lessing Reader

The Doris Lessing Reader

Doris May Lessing. Knopf Publishing Group, $24.95 (635pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57307-6

Selected by the author, these stories, essays and excerpts from Lessing's novels comprise a rich and satisfying sampling from a writer whose work has always been distinctive and important. Nonfiction pieces, including a selection from Going Home and the preface to the French edition of Seeking After Truth , bear witness to her skills as a meticulous and unflinching observer, but it is in the fiction that her voice and vision find full range. The selections from The Grass Is Singing (1950) and the Children of Violence series prove as full of fierce intellect and passion for fairness as on first reading, their depiction of justice and injustice as played out in South Africa perhaps even more pointed with the passing of years. Above all, this volume offers new readers a chance to sample the many facets of Lessing's work, including excerpts from the five volumes in the Canopus in Argos: Archives series of space fiction or the two pseudonymously published novels in The Diaries of Jane Somers. Those whose literary teeth were cut on The Golden Notebook and Briefing for a Descent into Hell , who recognized themselves in Kate Brown or her family ( The Summer Before the Dark) , will find that dipping once more into the wise and ironic wealth of Lessing's ouevre revives their taste for writing of conviction and compassion, and will return to the original works of this author so astonishingly prodigious in both intelligence and imagination. (Feb.)