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The Golden Notebook Hardcover – Sep 1984

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reissue edition (Sep 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671287702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671287702
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.3 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,091,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘This ambitious novel has no equal.’ Guardian

‘At the beginning of the Sixties, this vast, frank, complicated novel helped to sustain our reputation for courageous, ambitious, experimental writing. Soon a worldwide bestseller, it is still Lessing’s finest work. “The Golden Notebook” captured the heady mix of the early Sixties, when not just novels but political certainties were dissolving. The rising feminist movement seized it as a Bible.’ Mail on Sunday

‘Her greatest work…Shows the power of the female imagination at full throttle. It doesn't bear a simple political message but it does rip off the masks that women were accustomed to wearing, and it shows up the dangers and difficulties that women encounter if they try to live a free life in a man's world…A landmark novel, a book that both changed and explained a generation…One of the finest writers of the century.’ Independent

‘Doris Lessing is a pioneer of feminist self-consciousness in its raw state…The truths contained in “The Golden Notebook” are indeed harsh. It can also be said that these particular truths have not been examined in so rigorous and exemplary a fashion since the first appearance of this extraordinary book. A seminal work.’ Anita Brookner, LRB

‘“The Golden Notebook” is the diary of a writer in shock, a young woman determined to forge a life as a “free woman”, as an “intellectual”. Doris Lessing is a writer of considerable power, someone who can close her eyes and “give” a situation by the sheer force of her emotional energy.’ Joan Didion, New York Times

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lukal8 on 4 Feb 2009
Format: Paperback
It's interesting to read other people's reactions to this novel, as I think that you could either love it or hate it. I enjoyed this book and would have given it five stars if it was not so tiresome in parts, particularly towards the end and in describing the dream sequences which did become a little repetitive and dull to me. Overall though, I found the book to be truthful, very ahead of the times, acutely and often painfully honest, and ultimately clever. The messages that come out are often political, feminist (though not always), emotional, humanitarian, and ironic. I think as a female I was able to identify parts of myself in Anna, and I think that many others can as well to a certain extent. The way in which it becomes evident that Anna is entrapped in a vicious cycle (vis-a-vis her relationships with men), is not in my perception a feminist ploy to portray all men as womenisers, and to pigeon hole them as being unemotional, cold and cheating, but rather just the accurate story of a woman who perceives certain men this way through her own encounters and experiences. She is unconsciously drawn to these men, and consciously knows the relationship is doomed from the start whilst praying it would last, as if she is somehow subconsciously comforted by the controlling aspect of the cycle (since she is unable to control her true art as she has writer's block). There is also however a more collective emotional theme running through the book, revolving around the need to be and feel loved/needed by someone. We can see this evident in not only the character of Anna, but also Marion, Tommy, Richard, Molly (at the end), the cheating men (in their unhappy marriages), the women who write to Dr West...etc. This again goes against the sense of the book being solely a feminist/political novel.Read more ›
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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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