Doris Lessing Books In Order | Full List 02/2024

Doris Lessing was a British writer who explored themes such as politics, psychology, and the human condition in her work. She authored over 50 novels, short stories, and essays throughout her career, with many of her works focusing on the complexities of relationships, feminism, and societal issues.

Doris Lessing Books in Order

  1. The Golden Notebook
  2. The Fifth Child
  3. The Grass Is Singing
  4. The Good Terrorist
  5. The Memoirs of a Survivor
  6. The Cleft
  7. Prisons We Choose to Live Inside
  8. Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta (Canopus in Argos, #1)
  9. Martha Quest (Children of Violence, #1)
  10. The Summer Before the Dark

Synopsis of Doris Lessing Books in Order

The Golden Notebook

“The Golden Notebook” by Doris Lessing tells the story of Anna Wulf, a writer struggling to find her voice and cope with the complexities of her personal and professional life. The novel is structured as a series of notebooks kept by Wulf, each representing a different aspect of her life, including her experiences as a writer, her relationships with men, her political activism, and her struggles with mental illness. As Wulf navigates the challenges of living as a single mother and independent woman in 1950s England, she grapples with questions of identity, power, and the possibilities for meaningful change in a rapidly changing world.

Throughout the novel, Lessing explores the ways in which personal and political struggles are interconnected, as well as the challenges and contradictions of living as a modern woman. “The Golden Notebook” is known for its innovative narrative structure and its deep engagement with the social and political issues of its time, including communism, feminism, and mental health. The novel is considered a landmark work of feminist literature and continues to be widely studied and celebrated for its thoughtful exploration of women’s experiences and the complexities of modern life.

As Wulf’s story unfolds, “The Golden Notebook” offers a powerful and incisive look at the ways in which personal and political struggles intersect, and the challenges of living as an independent woman in a changing world. Lessing’s novel is a complex and thought-provoking exploration of the challenges and contradictions of modern life, as well as a groundbreaking work of feminist literature that continues to resonate with readers today.

The Fifth Child

“The Fifth Child” by Doris Lessing is a novel that tells the story of a married couple, Harriet and David, who were happy with their four children until they decide to have a fifth child. The birth of the fifth child, Ben, is unlike any of the other children, and he rapidly becomes a source of fear and anxiety for the family. Ben’s behavior is violent and uncontrollable, and he struggles to fit into the family dynamic. As a result, his presence causes conflict and tension within the family as they try to understand and cope with his disruptive behavior.

The novel explores the theme of parental love and responsibility, as Harriet and David grapple with the ethical and moral dilemmas of raising a child who is fundamentally different from their other children. As Ben’s behavior becomes increasingly dangerous and the family’s relationships deteriorate, they are forced to make difficult decisions about how to handle the situation. The novel raises questions about societal expectations of family and the challenges of raising a child who does not fit the mold.

Overall, “The Fifth Child” is a thought-provoking and unsettling exploration of the complexities of family dynamics and the impact of a disruptive child on a seemingly idyllic family. The novel delves into the darker aspects of human nature and the pressures of societal norms, offering a compelling and disturbing portrayal of the consequences of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

The Grass Is Singing

“The Grass Is Singing” by Doris Lessing is a powerful and haunting novel set in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the 1940s. The story revolves around Mary Turner, a lonely and frustrated woman living on a failing farm with her husband Dick Turner. Their strained and dysfunctional marriage is exacerbated by the harsh and oppressive environment, as well as the racial tensions between the white settlers and the local black population. When a black servant, Moses, is accused of murdering Mary, the novel delves into the complex dynamics of race, power, and prejudice in colonial Southern Rhodesia.

Lessing’s novel explores the psychological and emotional unraveling of Mary Turner, as well as the corrosive effects of societal and racial oppression. Through the relationships and interactions between the characters, the novel delves into the themes of fear, power, and the destructive nature of racism. “The Grass Is Singing” is a thought-provoking and disturbing exploration of the human condition, as well as the complexities of race and identity in a colonial setting.

Overall, “The Grass Is Singing” offers a compelling and evocative portrayal of life in colonial Southern Rhodesia, as well as a searing examination of the human psyche under the pressures of prejudice and oppression. Doris Lessing’s skillful writing and incisive insights make this novel a captivating and thought-provoking read.

The Good Terrorist

“The Good Terrorist” by Doris Lessing is a novel that delves into the complexities of political activism and terrorism in 1980s London. The story follows a group of radicals who become involved in revolutionary activities, but their idealism quickly turns into chaos as they struggle to maintain their militant beliefs while facing the harsh realities of their actions. The protagonist, Alice, becomes increasingly drawn into the turmoil of the group, grappling with her own motivations and the consequences of her choices.

The novel explores themes of ideology, disillusionment, and the consequences of political extremism. Lessing delves into the psychology of the characters, revealing their inner conflicts and the ways in which their beliefs drive their actions. The book offers a thought-provoking exploration of radicalism and the human experience, presenting a nuanced portrayal of the complexities of political activism.

Through its vivid and compelling narrative, “The Good Terrorist” offers a powerful commentary on the nature of radical movements and the individuals caught up in them. Lessing’s masterful storytelling and insightful portrayal of the characters make this novel a compelling and thought-provoking read.

The Memoirs of a Survivor

“The Memoirs of a Survivor” is a dystopian novel written by Doris Lessing. The story is narrated by an unnamed middle-aged woman living in a decaying city in the near future. She recounts her experiences of living in a crumbling society where law and order have broken down, and people are left to fend for themselves. The city is filled with abandoned buildings, and gangs roam the streets, creating an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

As the protagonist struggles to survive in this harsh environment, she takes in a young girl named Emily, who becomes a central figure in her life. The novel explores themes of isolation, survival, and the human capacity for resilience in the face of adversity. The protagonist’s reflections on her experiences provide insight into the fragility of society and the depths of human nature.

“The Memoirs of a Survivor” is a thought-provoking and haunting narrative that delves into the complexities of social breakdown and the individual’s struggle for survival in a world that has lost its way. Lessing’s evocative storytelling and vivid descriptions paint a stark picture of a society in disarray, while also offering a glimpse of hope and resilience in the face of overwhelming challenges.

The Cleft

“The Cleft” by Doris Lessing is a speculative fiction novel that tells the story of a fictional society of women who live in an isolated community on an island. The book explores the creation myth of this society, which involves the origins of human life being traced back to a group of females who gave birth to children without the need for men. The women in this society live in harmony with each other, without the presence of men, and their society is based on principles of collaboration, mutual support, and peaceful coexistence.

The story is narrated by a male observer from a later era, who discovers the history of this society through ancient writings. As he learns about the origins and development of this female-dominated community, he reflects on the differences between the genders and the implications of a society without men. The novel raises questions about gender roles, societal structures, and the nature of power and authority.

Through its exploration of a fictional matriarchal society and its creation myth, “The Cleft” delves into themes of gender, power, and the potential for alternative social structures. Doris Lessing’s thought-provoking prose takes readers on a journey through a world where the dynamics between men and women are radically different, offering a fresh perspective on the human experience.

Prisons We Choose to Live Inside

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Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta (Canopus in Argos, #1)

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Martha Quest (Children of Violence, #1)

Martha Quest is the first book in Doris Lessing’s “Children of Violence” series. The novel follows Martha Quest, a young woman living in Southern Rhodesia in the 1930s, as she struggles to find her place in the world. Martha is determined to break free from the restrictive expectations placed on women in her society, and she embarks on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth.

As Martha tries to carve out a meaningful existence for herself, she encounters a variety of challenges and experiences that shape her perspective on life. She becomes involved in the local community and politics, and she forms important relationships with a diverse cast of characters. Throughout the novel, Martha grapples with her own desires and ambitions, as well as the societal forces that seek to limit her potential.

Doris Lessing’s Martha Quest is a powerful exploration of gender, identity, and the human spirit. The novel offers a candid portrayal of the harsh realities of everyday life, as well as the internal and external struggles that individuals face in pursuit of personal fulfillment. As Martha navigates the complexities of her world, readers are invited to contemplate the universal themes of self-discovery, independence, and the quest for meaning in a tumultuous world.

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The Summer Before the Dark

“The Summer Before the Dark” by Doris Lessing tells the story of Kate Brown, a middle-aged woman who finds herself at a crossroads in her life. As she prepares to leave her family for a summer in Istanbul, she reflects on the choices she has made and the life she has led. The novel explores themes of aging, identity, and the search for meaning in life.

In Istanbul, Kate’s journey takes an unexpected turn as she becomes involved with a group of revolutionary students. She finds herself drawn to their passion and energy, and begins to question her own beliefs and values. As the summer progresses, Kate’s experiences in Istanbul force her to confront her fears and desires, leading to a profound personal transformation.

“The Summer Before the Dark” is a thought-provoking and introspective novel that delves into the complexities of human nature. Lessing’s writing is both insightful and evocative, and she skillfully captures the nuances of Kate’s emotional and psychological journey. The novel offers a powerful exploration of the challenges and rewards of self-discovery, and the ways in which individuals grapple with the passage of time and the evolving nature of their own identities.

Biography Doris Lessing

Both of her parents were British, and they moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming. Doris Lessing, like other women writers from southern Africa who did not graduate from high school, made herself into a self-educated intellectual. She worked as a telephone operator in Salisbury, and later married Frank Wisdom and had two children. Feeling trapped, she left her family and joined the Communist movement, marrying Gottfried Lessing. She later became disillusioned with the movement and left it in 1954. She moved to London with her son and published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing. She received numerous awards for her literary works and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007.

Author Doris Lessing

FAQs about author Doris Lessing

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What types of books does Doris Lessing write

Doris Lessing is known for writing a variety of books, including novels, short stories, memoirs, and essays. She has also written science fiction and plays.

How many books has Doris Lessing written

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Published at 7:14 - 08/01/2024
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