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

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Overview

This is the first volume in the series of novels Doris Lessing calls collectively Canopus in Argos: Archives. Presented as a compilation of documents, reports, letters, speeches and journal entries, this purports to be a general study of the planet Shikasta?clearly the planet Earth?to be used by history students of the higher planet Canopus and to be stored in the Canopian archives. For eons, galactic empires have struggled against one another, and Shikasta is one of the main battlegrounds.Johar, an emissary from...

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

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Overview

This is the first volume in the series of novels Doris Lessing calls collectively Canopus in Argos: Archives. Presented as a compilation of documents, reports, letters, speeches and journal entries, this purports to be a general study of the planet Shikasta–clearly the planet Earth–to be used by history students of the higher planet Canopus and to be stored in the Canopian archives. For eons, galactic empires have struggled against one another, and Shikasta is one of the main battlegrounds.Johar, an emissary from Canopus and the primary contributor to the archives, visits Shikasta over the millennia from the time of the giants and the biblical great flood up to the present. With every visit he tries to distract Shikastans from the evil influences of the planet Shammat but notes with dismay the ever-growing chaos and destruction of Shikasta as its people hurl themselves towards World War III and annihilation.

Presented as a compilation of documents, letters, speeches and journal entries.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An audacious and disturbing work from one of the world’s great living writers.” –Paul Gray, Time“A stunning book…. Read it, read Lessing like a message of hope in dark times…read her for a winter’s evening entertainment; read her to nourish your soul.” –Frank Pierson, Los Angeles Times“If the subsequent novels sustain the power of Shikasta…this series may well be a masterpiece.” –The Atlantic
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394749778
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1981
  • Series: Canopus in Argos: Archives Series , #1
  • Edition description: 1st Vintage Books ed
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,001,077
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 7.97 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Doris  Lessing

Doris Lessing was born of British parents in Persia, in 1919, and moved with her family to Southern Rhodesia when she was five years old. She went to England in 1949 and has lived there ever since. She is the author of more than thirty books—novels, stories, reportage, poems, and plays. In 2007, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

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(14)

4 Star

(1)

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2014

    Falcon is a ponay from...

    THE RAINBOW FACTORY!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    Claw

    The tom walked in..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2014

    Layla

    She padded in.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2014

    Nightstorm

    She agrees. "We do."

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2014

    Misty

    She strolled in. "Anyone wanna fu<_>ck?"

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014

    Willowbranch

    "Finally... at least we have A tom" She mewed boredly

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2014

    SunFern

    The ginger she cat with green eyes padded in. She surveyed the camp (-and toms!) before asking, "May l join?"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2014

    Mystery

    She pads out of the warriors den.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    Mist

    Can you create a different character at result 6?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    Crystal

    She yawned bordely.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2014

    Heathertail and lionflame

    Sulked

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    Flame to mist

    Yeah

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    Rev

    All may join. Ill be gone in half hour at midnight. Might not be on later today btw.

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  • Posted January 31, 2010

    Doris Lessing's Best Science Fiction

    Shikasta is one of my all-time favorite science fiction novels. As an Ursula LeGuin fan, I lean toward stories that create an alternate society, and see how it affects the lives of characters. Shikasta does this and more. It postulates alternate interpretations of the beginnings of human existence and of the development of human societies, all in the context of a compelling tale of vivid characters and events that seem all too real to today's reader. Written in 1979, it seems almost prophetic. A must-read and a book to keep in your library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2004

    A clear voice in the whirlwind

    Once again Lessing creates a vivid and riviting tale about what it is to be human. Though the novel contains huge distances in time, space, viewpoint and circumstances, her keen sense of the minute communications that flow between and among people constantly brings the reader back into a breathtaking intimacy. There is tragedy and beauty here, and perhaps a hint of what our species might still hope to be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews

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