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On Cats [Kindle Edition]

Doris Lessing
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A collection of charming and celebrated writings about cats, from Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Doris Lessing’s love affair with cats began at a young age, when she became intrigued with the semi-feral creatures on the African farm where she grew up. Her fascination remained undiminished by the handsome domesticated creatures who shared her flats and her life in London and grew into real love with El Magnifico, the awkwardly lovable cat who in his later years suffered the great indignity of becoming a three-legged beast.

Consisting of Lessing’s celebrated collection of stories, ‘Particularly Cats and Rufus’, and the poignant though unsentimental memoir, ‘The Old Age of El Magnifico’, this book is a brilliant evocation of the feline world.



Product Description

Review

‘A distillation of everything that makes her work such a joy to read…Lessing's intensely visual imagination and coolly precise style fleshes out this feline life. A work of exquisite tenderness and poignancy, thoroughly devoid of artifice, over-elaboration or mawkish sentimentality…Wonderful.’ Scotsman

‘“Particularly Cats” is not really about cats at all, it’s about real characters.’ Daily Mail

‘An unsentimental and unwhimsical, but not unpartisan, study of cat-and-human relationships. An entertaining read for both cat and Lessing connoisseurs.’ Observer

From the Back Cover

Doris Lessing's love affair with cats began at a young age, when she became intrigued with the semi-feral creatures on the African farm where she grew up. Her fascination remained undiminished by the handsome domesticated creatures who shared her flats and her life in London, and grew into real love with the awkwardly lovable El Magnifico, the last cat to share her home.

Consisting of the celebrated collection of stories, 'Particularly Cats' and 'Rufus the Survivor', and the memoir, 'The Old Age of El Magnifico', this book brilliantly evokes the subtleties of feline existence. No other writer conveys so truthfully the real interdependence of humans and cats or convinces us with such stunning recognition of the reasons why cats 'really' matter.

"Wonderful…A work of exquisite tenderness and poignancy."
'Scotsman'


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1294 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061672246
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New edition edition (29 Mar. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007B5IE3C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #146,321 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007, is one of the most celebrated and distinguished writers of recent decades. A Companion of Honour and a Companion of Literature, she has been awarded the David Cohen Memorial Prize for British Literature, Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize, the International Catalunya Award and the S. T. Dupont Golden PEN Award for a
Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature, as well as a host of other international awards.
Doris Lessing died on 17 November 2013.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A voyage of cat discovery 21 Dec. 2009
By Ita
Format:Paperback
Read this book in a private place because there may be times when you cannot help weeping. This is a great book, the product of a master storyteller's remarkable powers of observation, her understanding of animals and people and her superb writing skills.

Decades after the death of a beloved feline childhood companion, and after acquiescing in the necessary but horrific cull of cats on an African farm, Doris Lessing re-embarked on a voyage of cat discovery. Various incarnations of ship's cat, vain, flirtatious, self-indulgent, neurotic, courageous, grateful, loving, accompanied her and she was present at births and deaths. She watched and recorded matings, friendships and rivalries, mothers teaching kittens, hunting. She tended animals that were injured or became ill and took on board those that were neglected and needed help.

There was a cat that would only eat lightly cooked calves' liver and lightly boiled whiting, another who seemed devoid of maternal feelings and who once drew attention to herself by speaking in a language of sausages stolen from a neighbour's house. One travelled twenty miles across the veld, avoiding predators and crossing two rivers, to return to the farmhouse where she was reared. Another risked her life during a tropical thunderstorm rather than abandon the kittens she had given birth to in a disused mineshaft.

Cats vary in the quantity and quality of their intelligence, Doris Lessing discovered. Rufus, who was constantly challenged by adversity, was calculating and survived by living on his wits. Another male had the inquiring mind of a scientist. Telepathic communication when circumstances permit is not ruled out.

It is to the neutered male, Butchkin, alias El Magnifico, that she is most closely drawn.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsentimental and tender 2 Sept. 2009
Format:Paperback
I just re-read this book, that I remember having loved so much, and my appreciation for it has, if anything, grown. It's easy to be soppy when talking about animals you love, but Lessing manages to be thoroughly unsentimental, even ruthless (the book opens with a great slaughter of cats), and yet show such deep empathy and compassion for these specks of life sharing her life that I always have to blink back tears when I finish it. She has no time for mysticism and intimations that cat are supernatural, mysterious creatures: to her, they are vulnerable little animals, whom we love and betray, driven by their instincts and needs, just as we are, and the bond between us is frail, tender and painful.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful book 29 Oct. 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am not a cat person so received the gift of a copy of this book with some misgivings, and started to read it purely to be able to tell the 'giver' that I had!! I'm very glad I did, the book was a total delight, and I have subsequently bought copies for every friend that owns a cat. Every one of them - and there are quite a few - shares my opinion. If you are a cat lover - or maybe even not - this is the book for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delight for all cat lovers 23 Aug. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An absolutely delightful read which, despite its archaic views on cat care (it is, after all, a "memoir" of times gone by) and some sad and disturbing accounts, is a fascinating read that will interest any cat lover.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, but not for the squeamish 3 Mar. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book covers the relationships Lessing has had throughout her life with cats. I struggled with the start of it, as she described the harsh realities of living on a farm in Africa and being surrounded by too many wild cats that needed "disposing of", but I'm glad I made it past the first part of the book as Lessing goes on to talk about other cat-friends she's had through her life, particularly Grey-cat and Black-cat and their litters of kittens, Rufus and old stray who adopts her, and El Magnifico, a haughty cat that needed a leg-amputation. Lessing talks about her cats the way I am tempted to do to my friends, but I refrain for fear of boring them, or becoming "the crazy cat lady". She notes their personality quirks and the way the communicate both with her and with other cats. The book isn't for the squeamish, but it is honest, and ultimately, heart-warming
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read 17 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As expected Doris Lessing has written beautifully, will clarity honesty and heart. The many cats who have shared her life come to life in these stories so much so that you feel you know them yourself by the time you have finished reading about them.
I also enjoyed the way the stories chronicled Doris' own change and development in perspective on cat care as her living experience changed and evolved from the outback in Africa through flat and country life in England.
A highly recommended delight for all lovers of cats and fine literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a cat lover to a cat lover 18 Jun. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bought it because I love cats, because the cover picture is beautiful, and because what I read online did appeal to me.

Truth or fiction ? The fact is, Ms Lessing made me feel terribly jealous, as her cats seem to be so much smarter than mine. But then, I'm probably not as sensitive as she is ; and she's a writer, not I.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More paws and pork-ish than mawkish 27 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Without sentiment, Lessing's cats would be the observations of a clinician or vet. Of course, Lessing had seen the suffering and neglect of cats and I think it is this in the book which, mercifully, saves her sentiment and the readers' from descending into a feast of the mawkish. Lessing doesn't, at least in a published work, show any of the instinct that frailer constitutions than hers allow to linger into their adult lives; so that their cats may still be perceived as simply bundles of fur to be cuddled and nuzzled; an adult's substitute for the forsaken teddy bear.

Rather, I felt the author's understanding of an individual cat's character was deepened by her experience of cats, such as the occasion when she witnessed cats culled on an African farm, and so giving, through her controlled prose, a unique understanding of cat 'personality' as much as that of Lessing's own personality, as their observer.
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