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The Golden Notebook (Contemporary Fiction) Audio CD – Audiobook, 1 Jun 2010


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Product details

  • Audio CD: 21 pages
  • Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks; Unabridged edition (1 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9626341580
  • ISBN-13: 978-9626341582
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 17.1 x 14 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,168,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

British stage, film and television actress Juliet Stevenson … gives a masterful performance, especially considering the wide range of characters in this book… --Joanna Theiss

First published in 1962, Doris Lessing's brilliant work defined a generation of women disillusioned by a world that relegated them to second-class citizenship. Lessing's book became a 'feminist bible' for women of the '60s, taking on the ideas of female sexuality, professional responsibility, friendship, political disenchantment and personal betrayal. Juliet Stevenson gives a no-nonsense yet deeply sensitive portrayal of writer Anna Wulf, who is trying to keep herself from falling apart by keeping four notebooks: black for her writing experiences, red for her politics, yellow for her relationships and emotions and blue for her daily accounts. As Anna explores her life, Stevenson's sharp, intelligent narration clarifies each thoughtful comment, each personal failure and each triumph. --AudioFile

From the Back Cover

Anna Wulf is a young novelist with writer’s block. Divorced, with a young child, and disillusioned by unsatisfactory relationships, she feels her life is falling apart. In fear of madness, she records her experiences in four coloured notebooks. The black notebook addresses her problems as a writer; the red her political life; the yellow her relationships and emotions; and the blue becomes a diary of everyday events. But it is the fifth notebook – the Golden Notebook – which is the key to her recovery and renaissance.

Bold and illuminating, fusing sex, politics, madness and motherhood, The Golden Notebook is at once a wry and perceptive portrait of the intellectual and moral climate of the 1950s – a society on the brink of feminism – and a powerful and revealing account of a woman searching for her own personal and political identity.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By LittleMoon VINE VOICE on 3 April 2009
Format: Paperback
One of the most illuminating additions to this edition of the novel is its introduction: two introductions in fact, each written by Lessing in 1971 and 1993 respectively. The inclusion of an author's thoughts on their own work is always fascinating. That Lessing imagined her own central theme as being about breaking down, in her own words: "when people "crack up" it is a way of self-healing, of the inner self's dismissing false dichotomies and divisions", is an excellent example of how the writer loses control over their text once it is let loose in the public imagination.

Whilst it most certainly is a novel about breaking down, it is also a novel that engages with political, sociological and personal landscapes. The scope of the book, in terms of content, is immense: the decadent life in Africa around the beginning of WWII; a growing disillusionment with communism; life and politics in 1950s Britain; women and love, sex, work, motherhood, men; psychoanalysis; writer's block... the list is almost endless. It feels like numerous novels worked into one encyclopaedic whole, and I'm convinced that Lessing has succeeded in filling one of the "blank spaces where novels ought to be".

The structure of the novel is no less extravagant than its subject matter - and make no mistake, this is a firmly post-modern novel, experimenting with juxtapositions of form and content, and exhibiting a subtle self-awareness. You might need to keep a notebook yourself. However, the sections aren't random, and can be followed easily enough providing you keep your brain in gear...

And that's the reality of reading this novel. It's a novel that demands the reader's full attention, and it's most certainly a novel that demands more than one reading.
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82 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Eric Anderson on 14 Nov 2002
Format: Paperback
The Golden Notebook is Lessing's most well known of her works and with good reason. It is an incredibly complex and layered work that addresses such ideas as authorship of one's life, the political climate of the 60s and the power relation between the sexes. It would be naïve to consider this novel as just a feminist polemic. I know many people have read it only this way or not read it because they assume it is only this. Lessing articulates this point well in her introduction. The novel inhabits many worlds of thought. It just so happens that at the time of its publication it was a very poignant work for feminism. More than any book I know it has the deepest and longest meditation on what it means to split your identity into categories because you can not conceive of yourself as whole in the present climate of society and in viewing your own interactions with people. This obsession with constructing a comprehensive sense of identity leads to an infinite fictionalisation of the protagonist's life. Consider the following passage "I looked at her, and thought: That's my child, my flesh and blood. But I couldn't feel it. She said again: 'Play, mummy.' I moved wooden bricks for a house, but like a machine. Making myself perform every movement. I could see myself sitting on the floor, the picture of a 'young mother playing with her little girl.' Like a film shot, or a photograph." She can't attach her own vision of herself to the reality of her life. The two are separated by the ideologies of society which influence her own vision of who she should be.
This novel also captures the political climate of the era, a state of post-war disillusionment with the available models political ideology. They recognise the need for some kind of change, but are unable to envision a model that will work.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Kenneth W. Douglas on 29 Dec 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As Doris Lessing discusses in her own introduction (new for this edition), her best-known and best-selling novel has been viewed as being "about" various things: the battle of the sexes and man's inhumanity to woman; mental health; the difficulties facing left-wing politics following the failure and collapse of communism. As she herself points out, there is a definite irony in this, given that her central theme and premise was the need to see things as a whole and avoid compartmentalising different aspects of our lives (love life, family life, political life, work life etc. etc.). This remains a startling idea: what Lessing is essentially saying is that it is just this sort of compartmentalising that allows an otherwise kind character to be a shameless racist (there is a prominent example in the Black Notebook), or an operative of a totalitarian regime to commit acts of genocide then go home to a peaceful family dinner.

At the novel's opening, the life of Lessing's central character - (ex-)novelist Anna Wulf - seems hopelessly fragmented. Afflicted by writer's block, Anna pours the narrative of the various traumas of her life into four quite separate compartments: the Black Notebook relates to her "work life" as a writer; the Red Notebook her "political life" as a lapsed and disillusioned member of the British Communist party; the Yellow Notebook her (lightly fictionalised) love life; and the Blue Notebook her everyday existence. In all four areas, things grow increasingly desperate until Anna's mental health seems in serious question. However, it is only after what amounts to a "breakdown" followed by re-synthesis of her life as a whole in the eponymous Golden Notebook that Anna can really achieve mental and moral wellbeing.
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