The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
I’m now about 20% into the book. I like it because have lived some of this life she describes. Middle class intellectuals in some colony. I see other reviewers don’t like hearing the privileged ruminate about their agonies. But we are a select bunch! For everyone one of us who entertain marxist ideals of a change in the system there are hundreds who don’t. It takes a modicum of privilege to even read stuff. So to hear how thes commies and fellow travellers carried on in the fifties is of interest to me. But I can see you had to be there perhaps to get it.
But then I was not there. I’m a generation older. It may not be common knowledge but there was a small wave of Marxist revival in the late sixties and early 70s. I imagine all round the world. It grew out of the vietnam war protests and the countercultural movement. It dawned on some of us liberals that we did not just want Peace. We want the Viet Cong to win. The imperialists needed to be defeated, and they were. It became clear too that national liberation was a viable and worthwhile step in the march of progress. Maybe that was not so clear to Lessing in her time? And the communes and alternative endeavours did not really work, not as a way of changing the system. It may sound crazy but I, along with many thought the “Times were a’ changin”. But really, no. And then China was in a stage before the cultural revolution disasters. It was easy to see there was something to be learned from the communists.
And there was! And then there was not!
Why did she get a Nobel Prise for her work? I think of Obama getting the peace prize – do you have to be a phoney to get it? I don’t think Lessing is a phoney. However she may have been mistaken for someone who is anti communist. It is very different to be a disillusioned to being anti. Jesuit priests apparently do not need to believe in god, they need to be searching for god. I wish there was some sort of world order of people searching for the marxist line of out time. And a Doris Lessing of our time – or at least one for baby boomers. Perhaps Marge Piercy? Is there anyone like her today, filling that niche she filled in 62?