Read The Cleft by Doris Lessing Free Online
Book Title: The Cleft|
The author of the book: Doris Lessing
Edition: Harper Perennial
Date of issue: January 7th 2008
ISBN 13: 9780007233441
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 497 KB
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Reader ratings: 3.6
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Now! What is it about all these terrible ratings? Accusations of sexism? Of the text lacking quality/being boring? I can identify so little with previous reviews of this work that I made it a point to write a review for this one.
I had never read Lessing before and when I read the synopsis for this one I knew that it was just meant to be. It is definitely not what I had expected – I had hoped it would be a cleverer version of Herland, maybe. It does share certain similarities with Gilman’s separatist female utopia, such as the usage of type characters instead of actual people, which further identifies both works as fables of humanity. However, The Cleft is very little like Herland as in it does not focus on the ‘before men’ but instead on the ‘after’; and there is close to none utopic elements in this scenario.
The premise is simple: women came first. Then one day, a boy was born. They think the child’s defective, but then ‘monsters’ keep being born, until the baby boys start being rescued by eagles and form a community of their own on the other side of the mountain. The most interesting moment in the text is precisely the beginning, gruesome and intriguing, indicating both genders as criminals against one another. From there, the story assumes the shape of a quasi-parody of traits generally attributed to males and females. Meanwhile, to further complicate matters, the narrative is put together by a Roman senator-wannabe who remarks on the earlier civilization and compares it to his own.
This book is clearly not preaching anything about human evolution; instead, its objective is to give us food for thought in what concerns the often troublesome relations between genders. Read it if you do not want to take for granted the patterns of those relations. ‘Cleft’ or ‘squirt’: the only thing clear is that there can’t be one without the other.
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Read information about the authorBoth of her parents were British: her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia; her mother had been a nurse. In 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, the family moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Like other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school (such as Olive Schreiner and Nadine Gordimer), Lessing made herself into a self-educated intellectual.
In 1937 she moved to Salisbury, where she worked as a telephone operator for a year. At nineteen, she married Frank Wisdom, and had two children. A few years later, feeling trapped in a persona that she feared would destroy her, she left her family, remaining in Salisbury. Soon she was drawn to the like-minded members of the Left Book Club, a group of Communists "who read everything, and who did not think it remarkable to read." Gottfried Lessing was a central member of the group; shortly after she joined, they married and had a son.
During the postwar years, Lessing became increasingly disillusioned with the Communist movement, which she left altogether in 1954. By 1949, Lessing had moved to London with her young son. That year, she also published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, and began her career as a professional writer.
In June 1995 she received an Honorary Degree from Harvard University. Also in 1995, she visited South Africa to see her daughter and grandchildren, and to promote her autobiography. It was her first visit since being forcibly removed in 1956 for her political views. Ironically, she is welcomed now as a writer acclaimed for the very topics for which she was banished 40 years ago.
In 2001 she was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in Literature, one of Spain's most important distinctions, for her brilliant literary works in defense of freedom and Third World causes. She also received the David Cohen British Literature Prize.
She was on the shortlist for the first Man Booker International Prize in 2005. In 2007 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
(Extracted from the pamphlet: A Reader's Guide to The Golden Notebook & Under My Skin, HarperPerennial, 1995. Full text available on www.dorislessing.org).
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