Golden Notebook


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I found that, if it were to be written at all, the subject should be, not a practising artist, but an artist with some kind of a block which prevented him or her from creating. In describing the reasons for the block, I would also be making the criticisms I wanted to make about our society.

I would be describing a disgust and self-division which afflicts people now, and not only artists.

The Golden Notebook

Since I hold that criticism of literature is a criticism and judgement of life, this book would say what I wanted of life; it would make implicitly, a statement about what Marxists call alienation. I understood that the shape of this book should be enclosed and claustrophobic - so narcissistic that the subject matter must break through the form. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Golden Notebook First edition cover. Dewey Decimal.

The Complete List Time. Works by Doris Lessing. Under My Skin Alfred and Emily.

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Hidden categories: EngvarB from September Use dmy dates from September All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from September These two women have a strong and rueful friendship and are never more united than when pointing out the shortcomings of a particular man. They laugh at him: he, quite simply, fails to understand them. And who could?

They both exist at the fag-end of a number of exhausted possibilities. They have both been members of the Communist Party. They have both undergone psychoanalysis.

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These women inherit, from their own intellectual formation, a busyness, a grappling with central issues, a determination to come to terms with the truth, however unpleasant this may be, and also a responsibility for their own motives, a tendency to reify, an ability to dream in symbolical or even political terms, a willingness to mythologise their own predicament, which releases them, slightly shaken, from their past, only to teach them that they have very few guidelines to help them to deal with the future.

Anna, the heroine, is in fact released into chaos, into fragmentation. All these devices fail.

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Ella, the fictional character within the novel, disappears when she comes up against the problems that beset Anna, the fictional character devised by Doris Lessing. The real revolution is women against men. These love affairs are failures, and they fail for reasons which are demonstrably important. In her search for a truthful union, Anna, the emancipated and independent woman, comes up against the phenomenon of a certain kind of male anxiety, which is in effect a fear of engulfment.

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The Golden Notebook

Anna perceives that there is a certain male ethic which decrees this to be right: such behaviour will ensure a man credit in the eyes of his peers, and, more important, it will safeguard what he feels to be his essential integrity. Such a man will make an initial and proprietory raid on a woman but will turn away once he has elicited the maximum response, for it is precisely this maximum response which he neither wants nor needs.

And the better a woman was, the sooner he began to run. Anna cannot solve this problem. The repetition and confusion in this section of the book, which is the penultimate section, are imprinted with madness and despair. Yet Anna knows that when her daughter comes home from school she will revert to being a normal, cheerful and predictable figure.

Traditional expectations will have triumphed over the penalties of thinking and feeling beyond the expected norms, and if there is further material for scrutiny here it is left undisturbed. The book ends with a symbol and an anti-climax. Saul and Anna agree to part, each bidding the other write a novel. Anna goes out and buys another notebook, the golden notebook of the title.

But Saul wants it, and after a short struggle Anna gives it to him. He uses it to write a short political novel which, we are told, does well.


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Anna goes round to see her friend Molly and finds her about to marry a wealthy Hampstead businessman. Anna herself decides to get a job, probably in welfare or social work.

The Golden Notebook Summary | GradeSaver

However, it must be conceded that, except in the sphere of domestic arrangements, the uxorious man may be precisely the man least likely to satisfy the imaginative requirements of the liberated woman. This is the dilemma which has succeeded the admittedly harsher dilemma at the heart of The Golden Notebook. This is the way we live now.

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