Love, Again

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The first new novel from Doris Lessing in more than seven years, Love, Again tells the story of a sixty-five-year-old woman who falls in love. Or rather, Sarah Durham falls into a state of love, which is another country altogether, and struggles to maintain her sanity while there. Widowed for many years, with grown children, Sarah is a writer who works in the theater in London. When she falls in love with a seductive young actor, the beautiful and androgynous twenty-eight-year-old Bill, and then with the more ...
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1996 Hardcover New jacket ***An EXCELLENT Brand new book at a sensible price. New, unread, unused, & in perfect condition. Value for the price. We ship within 24 hours. We sell ... books from New to Acceptable. We take care to be accurate in our description. Most of our books were gently read and in fine condition. BNCTucsonbooks ships daily. Proceeds from the sales of books support an endowed scholarship to Brandeis University, Waltham Mass. Read more Show Less

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Overview

The first new novel from Doris Lessing in more than seven years, Love, Again tells the story of a sixty-five-year-old woman who falls in love. Or rather, Sarah Durham falls into a state of love, which is another country altogether, and struggles to maintain her sanity while there. Widowed for many years, with grown children, Sarah is a writer who works in the theater in London. When she falls in love with a seductive young actor, the beautiful and androgynous twenty-eight-year-old Bill, and then with the more mature, thirty-five-year-old director Henry, Sarah finds herself in a state of longing and desire she thought the province of younger women. This richly textured novel explores the affinities and connections between romantic love, depression and grief, homesickness and the emotional deprivations of childhood. The two men with whom Sarah falls in love, one after the other, cause her to relive her own stages of growing up, from immature and infantile love to the mature.
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Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
Brilliantly illuminates the many and various facets of a phenomenon as familiar—and deeply strange—as falling in love.
Boston Globe
Compelling, large and often marvelously funny...a deeply satisfying book.
From Barnes & Noble
A daring, richly textured story of a 65-year-old woman who falls passionately in love with two much younger men. This is a brilliant anatomy of love--of longing, of grief, of all the experiences of love available to a woman in her lifetime.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060176877
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 8.08 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Doris  Lessing
Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, Doris Lessing was one of the most celebrated and distinguished writers of our time, the recipient of a host of international awards, including the Somerset Maugham Award, the David Cohen Memorial Prize for British Literature, the James Tait Black Prize for best biography, Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize and Prix Catalunya, and the S. T. Dupont Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature.

Biography

"Doris Lessing is the kind of writer who has followers, not just readers," Lesley Hazleton once observed. But the Nobel Prize-winning Lessing, whose classic novel The Golden Notebook was embraced as a feminist icon, has seldom told her followers exactly what they wanted to hear. For much of her career, she has frustrated readers' expectations and thwarted would-be experts on her work, penning everything from traditional narratives to postmodern novels to mystic fables.

Lessing was born in Persia (now Iran) and grew up in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where her father made an unsuccessful attempt to farm maize. Though she loved living on the farm, her family life was often tense and unhappy. Lessing married at the age of 20, but three years later, feeling stifled by colonial life and increasingly distressed by the racism of her society, she joined the Communist Party, "because they were the only people I had ever met who fought the color bar in their lives."

Soon after that, she left her husband and first two children to marry fellow Communist Gottfried Lessing, with whom she had a son. They divorced, and she took her son with her to England, where she published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, to high acclaim. After several more novels, including the semi-autobiographical series Children of Violence, Lessing wrote The Golden Notebook, a postmodern, fragmentary narrative about a writer's search for identity. The Golden Notebook gained a passionate following in the feminist movement and "left its mark upon the ideas and feelings of a whole generation of women," as Elizabeth Hardwick wrote.

To Lessing's dismay, she was frequently cited as a "feminist writer" after that. Yet as Diane Johnson pointed out in a 1978 review of Stories, Lessing "also understands men, politics, social class, striving, religion, loneliness and lust." Johnson added: "Mrs. Lessing is the great realist writer of our time, in the tradition of the major Continental novelists of the 19th century, particularly Stendhal and Balzac, but also Turgenev and Chekhov -- a masculine tradition with which she shares large moral concerns, an earnest and affirmative view of human nature, and a dead-eye for social types."

But Lessing, who once called realist fiction "the highest form of prose writing," soon launched into a science-fiction series, Canopus in Argos: Archives, which baffled many of her fans. Lessing used the term "space fiction" for the series, which recounts human history from the points of view of various extraterrestrial beings. Though Lessing gained some new readers with her Canopus series, her early admirers were relieved when she came back to Earth in The Fifth Child, the story of a monstrous child born to ordinary suburban parents, which Carolyn Kizer deemed "a minor classic." Later novels like Mara and Dann included elements of fantasy and science fiction, but recently, with the publication of The Sweetest Dream, Lessing has returned to domestic fiction in the realist mode, which many critics still see as her best form.

Throughout her life, Lessing has been drawn to systems for improving human experience -- first Marxism, then the psychiatry of R. D. Laing, then Sufi mysticism. But her yearning for a single, transcendent truth coexists with a sharp awareness of the contradictory mix of vanities, passions, and aggressions that make up most human lives. As Margaret Drabble noted, Lessing is "one of the very few novelists who have refused to believe that the world is too complicated to understand."

Good To Know

Lessing's African stories painted a grim picture of white colonialism and the oppression of black Africans, and in 1956, Lessing was declared a prohibited alien in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. In 1995, she was able to visit her daughter and grandchildren in South Africa, where her works are now acclaimed for the same content that was once condemned.

Though she was briefly allied with the Communist Party in Salisbury, Lessing has frequently insisted that the picture of her as a political activist is exaggerated. "I am always being described as having views that I never had in my life," she once told the Guardian. She has, however, been an outspoken critic of the racial politics of South Africa, and she once turned down the chance to become a Dame of the British Empire on the grounds that there is no British Empire.

To demonstrate how difficult it is for new writers to get published, Lessing sent a manuscript to her publishers under the pseudonym Jane Somers. Her British publisher turned it down, as did several other prominent publishers (though her American editor detected the ruse and accepted the book). The Diary of a Good Neighbour was published as the work of Jane Somers, to little fanfare and mixed critical reviews. Lessing followed it with a sequel, If the Old Could..., before revealing her identity as the author of both.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Doris May Tayler (birth name), Jane Somers (pseudonym)
    2. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 22, 1919
    2. Place of Birth:
      Persia (now Iran)
    1. Date of Death:
      November 17, 2013
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England

Read an Excerpt

Easy to think this was a junkroom, silent and airless in a warm dusk, but then a shadow moved, someone emerged from it to pull back curtains and throw open windows. It was a woman, who now stepped quickly to a door and went out, leaving it open. The room thus revealed was certainly over-full. Along one wall were all the evidences of technical evolution—a fax machine, a copy machine, a word processor, telephones—but as for the rest, the place could easily be some kind of theatrical storeroom, with a gold bust of some Roman female, much larger than life, masks, a crimson velvet curtain, posters, and piles of sheet music, or rather photocopies that had faithfully reproduced yellowing and crumbling originals.

On the wall over the word processor was a large reproduction of Cezanne's Mardi Gras, also the worse for wear: it had been torn across and put together with cellotape.

The woman next door was energetically attending to something: objects were being moved about. Then she reappeared and stood looking in at the room.

Not a young woman, as it had been easy to imagine from the vigour of her movements when still half seen in the shadows. A woman of a certain age, as the French put it, or even a bit older, and not dressed to present herself, but wearing old trousers and shirt.

This woman was alert, full of energy, yet she did not seem pleased with what she looked at. However, she shook all that off and went to her processor, sat down, put out a hand to switch on a tape. At once the room was filled with the voice of the Countess Die, from eight centuries ago (or a voice able to persuade the listener she was the Countess), singing her timeless plaints:

I mustsing, whether I will or not:

I feel so much pain over him whose friend I hold myself,

For I love him more than anything that is . . .

The modern woman, sitting with her hands ready to attack the keys, was conscious she felt superior to this long-ago sister, not to say condemning. She did not like this in herself. Was she getting intolerant?

Yesterday Mary had rung from the theatre to say that Patrick was in emotional disarray because he had fallen in love again, and she had responded with a sharp comment.

'Now, come on, Sarah,' Mary had rebuked her.

Then Sarah had agreed, and laughed at herself.

Feeling disquiet, however. There seems to be a rule that what you condemn will turn up sooner or later, to be lived through. Forced to eat your vomit—yes, Sarah knew this well enough. Somewhere in her past she had made a note: Beware of condemning other people, or watch out for yourself.

The Countess Die was too disturbing, and Sarah switched the plaint off.

Silence. She sat breathing it in. She was altogether too much affected by this old troubadour and trouvere music. She had been listening to little else for days, to set the tone of what she had to write. Not only the Countess, but Bernard de Ventadour, Pierre Vidal, Giraut de Bornelh, and other old singers, had put her into a state of . . . she was restless, and she was feverish. When had music affected her like this before? She did not think it had. Wait, though. Once she had listened to jazz, particularly the blues, it seemed day and night, for months. But that was when her husband died, and the music had fed her melancholy. But she did not remember . . . yes, first she had been grief-ridden, and then she had chosen music to fit her state. But this was a different matter altogether.

Her task this evening was not a difficult one. The programme notes were too stiff in tone: this was because, writing them, she had been afraid of being over-charmed by the subject. And she was being charmed by the sensuous voice of the Countess—or the young woman Alicia de la Haye.

She did not have to do the programme notes now. In fact she had made a rule for herself not to work in the evenings at home: a rule she had not been keeping recently. To spell it out, she had not been keeping her own prescriptions for balance and good mental health.

She sat listening to silence. A sparrow chirped.

She thought, I'll look up that Provencal poem by Pound; that's hardly work after all.

The desk was stacked with reference books, files of cuttings, and on one side of it bookshelves rose to the ceiling. A book lay open on one side of the word processor.

Growing old gracefully . . . the way has been signposted. One might say the instructions are in an invisible script which becomes slowly legible as life exposes it. Then the appropriate words only have to be spoken. On the whole the old don't do badly. Pride is a great thing, and the necessary stances and stoicisms are made easy because the young do not know—it is hidden from them—that the flesh withers around an unchanged core. The old share with each other ironies appropriate to ghosts at a feast, seen by each other but not by the guests whose antics and posturings they watch, smiling, remembering.

To this set of placid sentences full of self-respect most people getting old would subscribe, feeling well presented and even defended by them.

Yes, I'll go along with that, thought Sarah. Sarah Durham. A good sensible name for a sensible woman.

The book where she had found these sentences had been on a trestle in a street market, the memoirs of a society woman once known for her beauty, written in old age and published when she was nearly a hundred, twenty years ago. A strange thing, Sarah thought, that she had picked the book up. Once, she would never have even opened a book by an old person: nothing to do with her, she would have felt. But what could be odder than the way that books which chime with one's condition or stage in life insinuate themselves into one's hand?

She pushed away that book, thought Pound's verses could wait, and decided to enjoy an evening when nothing at all would be expected of her. An evening in April, and it was still light. This room was calm, usually calming, and like the other three rooms in this flat held thirty years of memories. Rooms a long time lived in can be like littered sea shores; hard to know where this or that bit of debris has come from.

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