Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949

Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949

by Doris Lessing
     
 

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This, the first volume of Doris Lessing's autobiography, begins with her childhood in Africa and ends on her arrival in London in 1949 with the typescript of her first novel, The Grass is Singing, in her suitcase. The book recalls her own mind as a child, and the life of a child, with almost overwhelming immediacy, mapping the growth first of her consciousness, then,…  See more details below

Overview

This, the first volume of Doris Lessing's autobiography, begins with her childhood in Africa and ends on her arrival in London in 1949 with the typescript of her first novel, The Grass is Singing, in her suitcase. The book recalls her own mind as a child, and the life of a child, with almost overwhelming immediacy, mapping the growth first of her consciousness, then, in adolescence, of her sexuality, and later, as a young woman, of her political beliefs. The African landscape (described with great lyricism), her often angry and combative relationship with her parents, her intense awareness of her own body, her passionate involvement with other people and indeed with everything around her are all here very, very powerfully present. Under My Skin shows a woman uncompromising, from the beginning, in every aspect, who breaks all the rules, who battles at every turn against her upbringing and environment, who looks on the world clear and hard; and yet who also displays a softness, a wonderful sense of humor, a compassion for human failure.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
"What is better than a really good biography? Not many novels," says Lessing in her first chapter of what is destined to be one of the best autobiographies of our time. Although Lessing has incorporated her life into nearly all of her novels, most notably the Martha Quest series, and has published some short autobiographical sketches, this is her first full-length autobiography, with a second volume projected to cover 1950 onward. From her childhood in the wilds of what was then Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) through her young married life in Salisbury to her Communist years during World War II, Lessing is able both to capture the immediacy of her youthful feelings and to comment on her past self with both compassion and the distance that maturity brings. This is a wonderfully vivid memoir that reveals the origins of a remarkable writer. It also gives the reader a direct connection to the physical and emotional experiences of childhood and youth that are universal and timeless. For all collections.-Shelley Cox, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Hazel Rochman
With the same combination of burning intimacy and social commentary that made "The Golden Notebook" (1962) a classic of our times, Lessing writes about her childhood and coming-of-age in southern Africa. This is a sprawling autobiography--she admits that her fiction "makes a better job of the truth"--yet scenes and sentences hit you with a flash of recognition, articulating what you didn't know you felt. The best parts are about childhood, the intense physicality of it, "all the din and stink and smother." She didn't fit in. Beneath her jolly, competent public persona, she raged against her disappointed mother who wanted a well-brought-up little English girl. Two things saved Lessing and helped make her a writer: she read and read and read; and she roamed free in the wild bush around the farm. Yet always she was waiting to leave. At home, at boarding school, through two disastrous marriages and several casual affairs, the door was slammed shut. She hated the savage myths of "white civilization"; looking back now, she also evokes the absurdity of her Communist fervor. The fragments are unified by one thought: "Soon (but when?) I'll be out of here." Book-of-the-Month Club selection.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780809591749
Publisher:
Wildside Press, LLC
Publication date:
01/01/1995

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
London, England
Date of Birth:
October 22, 1919
Place of Birth:
Persia (now Iran)

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