Doris Lessing, one of England’s finest living novelists, invites us to imagine a mythical society free from sexual intrigue, free from jealousy, free from petty. Sep 2, The premise of Doris Lessing’s new novel-as-creation-myth is that a towering cloven rock used for primitive religious rites: “The Cleft is us. The Cleft, by Doris Lessing. Sex and schism at the dawn of time. By Michael Arditti; Friday 12 January 0 comments.

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I can totally see why we’d be discussing it in our gender class, but I have so many personal problems with the way in which this idea was handled, I don’t even know where to start. What is most intriguing about the imaginary lives that she gives oessing peacetime parents is her own erasure.

Women and children first

The rage and brutality are experienced viscerally in the book’s second part – the memoir that manages to be intimately revelatory as well as piercingly powerful. Books by Doris Lessing. Several of her novels are numbered among the modern classics; she has reputedly been considered for the Nobel Prize in literature.

As is usual in Lessing’s fluidly conversational prose, ideas take precedence over stylistic perfection: Has childhood happiness ever produced a Nobel laureate?

At nineteen, she married Frank Wisdom, and later had two children. Views Read Edit View history. May 22, Aya rated it it was ok Shelves: Lessing, in effect, writes herself out of their lives. Refresh and try again. The public one we call history, and the private we denote as “family history” or autobiography or memoir. What does it mean? Lessing writes, and while her father tried hard to live as if he did not have a wooden leg, he grew increasingly incapacitated, especially after developing diabetes.

Review: The Cleft by Doris Lessing | Books | The Guardian

I like the idea of this story but I dont think it was well executed IMO. This was my first foray into the writings of Doris Lessing, who I can see has a brilliant skill worthy of all the recognition she’s received, so I don’t know if this is a typical Lessing book or something completely different. In the novella, Lessing gives her mother a less peaceful death, also at In the beginning, humanity was comprised solely of females who reproduced asexually.


In the first half of this book Ms. A curious and compelling read, a mythology of the origen of human society. There is, though, a problem, in that the novel has barely any people, so there can’t be any characters.

Magnificent eagles swoop in to save the baby males from death and later, female ,essing allow them to suckle them in absence of mothers.

The Cleft by Doris Lessing

This distaste is effective. Writing with the incandescent clarity of her 88 years, Ms. Along with work of an entirely dooris, invented variety there is a good body of her work which shades off, in calibrated degrees, from the realist and directly observed novel, towards the autobiographical fiction, and into autobiography proper.

When a stray Cleft wanders over the ridge from the ocean caves, they quickly learn why they are built the way they are. There is one curious, inevitable missing fact about the account of their lives in the first half which seems almost too obvious to point out; there is no Doris. Clefts look after babies.

Feb 02, Ali rated it liked it. When the fictional Emily loses her independence in marriage, the results are as constraining ccleft they must have been for the real Emily isolated on a Rhodesian farm: Feb 23, Cheyenne Blue rated it did not like it Shelves: In lesslng was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in Literature, one of Spain’s most important distinctions, for her brilliant literary works in defense of freedom and Third World causes.


Then the focus shifts strongly to Emily, who marries a cardiologist, is forced to give up nursing and becomes deeply discontented as a middle-class wife.

Alfred and Emily began, as she began, perhaps as all children begin, by letting their parents down. There will, no doubt, be some enthusiasts of the great monotheistic religions, for instance, in cleeft male primacy seems to be a pretty key ingredient who will take a Bloom-like view of The Cleft as a kind of feminist tract. Emily suffers heart failure after being attacked by boys who turn on her when she remonstrates with them for tormenting a dog.

The author takes infanticide, incest, genital mutilation, murder, and rape as a matter-of-fact instinctual course of humanity.

But the eagles start taking the Monster babies to the forest, where they are breastfed by deer, and evolve into a community of large Squirts. Return to Lrssing Page. Nothing is clear; people, places, actions. Sep 02, Wendy doros it it was ok.

I found the content really thought provoking and the characters that were present, substantial for the genre that Lessing is trying to achieve. But what I was doing was part of the trying to get free. The Cleft is a novel by Doris Lessing. It changed my whole attitude. To the Nobel Prize for Literature committee of Some may take it as pure fantasy, others as fascinating speculation on our first ancestors.

He dwells on gender and family issues in both time frames and invokes more questions. I’d be happy to try some of her other work, but this particular novel was a big miss for me.