The 1970s was the age of the feminist movement and one woman's writing was unintentionally leading the charge.
British short story writer Doris Lessing was hailed by many as a leader of feminist literature, despite the fact that she that shied away from the label for years. Her loosely autobiographical novel, The Golden Notebook, was taught in women's literature courses on college campuses nationwide and dealt openly with otherwise hush-hush topics of the time like female sexuality.
But she wasn't so favorable of her work being pigeonholed as a feminist handbook. She had this to say about feminism to The New York Times in 1982,
"What they would really like me to say is, 'Ha, sisters, I stand with you side by side in your struggle toward the golden dawn where all those beastly men are no more.' Do they really want people to make oversimplified statements about men and women? In fact, they do. I've come with great regret to this conclusion."
We were sad to hear about her passing this Sunday at the age of 94. And even though she's well-known for The Golden Notebook, she's also written some of the most touching love stories of all time (no doubt why she won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2007). Here are some other heartfelt, thought-provoking stories that will change your views of love, sex and self-identity.
1. Love, Again
One of her later, but more compelling works tells the story of a 65-year-old widow named Sarah who rediscovers herself through falling in love. Working as a writer in London's theater scene, she accidentally falls in love with a sexy, much younger twenty-something actor named Bill and then with a more mature 35-year-old director named Henry.
2. The Grass Is Singing
Her debut novel — set in southern Africa during the 1940s — is focused on the tension-filled relationship between a white farmer and his wife, and their African servant. On a larger scale, it dealt with the racial politics between whites and blacks in the country during that time.
3. "The Grandmothers"
This short story tackles the tricky blurred line between friendship and romance — and what is truly off-limits in love. Roz and Lil — who have been best friends since childhood — test the boundaries of their friendship as middle-aged mothers when they fall in love with each other's teenage sons. Talk about an intense double love affair!
4. "A Love Child"
From the same above collection of short stories, a married World War veteran is haunted by the belief that he's fathered a child. Years earlier, he has found and lost his true love on a brief wartime stopover in Cape Town. "I'm not living my own life," he cries. "It's not my real life. I shouldn't be living the way I do." The sense of life lived in dull parallel to a lost or dreamed world haunts other characters and is something we can all relate to.
5. A Woman On A Roof
This short story is from her fictional collection A Man and Two Women. At first glance, it appears to simply be about three workmen repairing a roof during a scorching heat wave who spot and ogle a woman sunbathing on a neighboring rooftop. But on a deeper level, it's a commentary of women in their status as being objectified by men and by selecting three men in varying life stages — a young bachelor, a newlywed and a family man — she illustrates how their ages shape their attitudes towards women.
What's your favorite Doris Lessing story? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
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