I think my father's rage at the trenches took me over, when I was very young, and has never left me. Do children feel their parents' emotions? Yes, we do, and it is a legacy I could have done without. What is the use of it? It is as if that old war is in my own memory, my own consciousness.
In this extraordinary book, the 2007 Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing explores the lives of her parents, each irrevocably damaged by the Great War. Her father wanted the simple life of an English farmer, but shrapnel almost killed him in the trenches, and thereafter he had to wear a wooden leg. Her mother, Emily, spent the war nursing the wounded in the Royal Free Hospital after her great love, a doctor, drowned in the Channel.
In the fictional first half of Alfred and Emily, Doris Lessing imagines the happier lives her parents might have made for themselves had there been no war; a story that begins with their meeting at a village cricket match outside Colchester. This is followed by a piercing examination of their relationship as it actually was in the shadow of the Great War, of the family's move to Africa, and of the impact of her parents' marriage on a young woman growing up in a strange land.
"Here I still am," says Doris Lessing, "trying to get out from under that monstrous legacy, trying to get free." Triumphantly, with the publication of Alfred and Emily, she has done just that.
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.
Date of Birth:
October 22, 1919
Place of Birth:
Persia (now Iran)
What People are Saying About This
“An intriguing work . . . [that] shimmers with precisely remembered details.”
“A keen sociological eye for class and ideology; an understanding of the contradictory impulses of
the human heart; an ability to conjure a place, a mood and a time through seemingly matter-of-fact ... Kakutani, New York TimesShocking, intimate, often uncomfortably honest, ...
A highly personal story of the eminent British writer returning to her African roots that
is brilliant . . . [and] captures the contradictions of a young country. — New York Times Book ReviewA rich and penetrating portrait of Lessing's ...
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Doris Lessing ha querido rendir un homenaje a sus padres, imaginando qué hubiera sido de
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Far from resting on her laurels, Lessing goes from strength to strength. Ben's half-human ignorance,
paranoia, and rage are magnificently imagined and vividly present on every page. The condition of the outsider has hardly ever before in fiction been portrayed ...
From Doris Lessing, one of the most important writers of the past hundred years (Times
of London), comes a brilliant, darkly provocative alternative history of humankind's beginnings. In the last years of his life, a Roman senator retells the history ...
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize Shortlisted for the Commonwealth PrizeA Kirkus Reviews Best Book
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