Briefing for a Descent into Hell Hardcover – 15 Apr 1971
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"Touching and beautiful." --"The New York Review of Books""A brilliant and untamed image of the possibilities that may still constitute man's destiny." --"Time""An excursion into private consciousness . . . ending up in the darkest reaches of the unconscious at its most primitive." --"The Washington Post Book World"
About the Author
Doris Lessing was born of British parents in Persia in 1919 and taken to South Africa at the age of five. She spent the rest of her childhood on a large farm in Southern Rhodesia. At the age of eighteen, she became a telephone operator in Salisbury where she had, she says, 'the kind of compulsive good time described in Martha Quest'. In 1949 she came to London bringing with her the manuscript of her first novel, The Grass is Singing. Published the following year, the book was an outstanding success in Britain, in America and in ten European countires. Her subsequent novels have inlcuded the five-volume Children of Violence series (1952-69) and The Golden Notebook (1962). Reviewing this last book, the Sunday Times called Doris Lessing 'not only the best woman novelist we have but one of the most serious, intelligent and honest writers of the whole post-war generation'. She is also the author of such short story collections as The Habit of Loving (1957) and of non-fiction books ranging from Going Home (1957) to Particularly Cats (1967). The Observer wrote of her: 'There can't, I suppose, be anyone left who reads modern fiction at all and isn't aware of the importance of Doris Lessing's work, with its strenth, its sobriety, its fine integrity.'
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Top Customer Reviews
One point that perhaps should be mentioned is that the novel has been condemned by several psychiatric professionals for its apparent glorification of mental illness. Yet, in my reading, I would argue that the sheer inventiveness and beauty of the prose alone renders the novel superior, adn that such a reading fails to take these qualities into account. However, it is possible that some readers may find their enjoyment tempered by similiar considerations. Nevertheless, I loved the book, and would highly recommend it!
I do recommend this book but for those interested in representations of mental illness, R. D. Laing's work, and inner-space fiction, rather than those looking merely for a pleasureable read.
Towards the end of the book he seems to recover some of his memory, or some facet of it, and he tells a tremendously affecting story of being airlifted into some mountains where he joins a group of young Yugoslav soldiers in WWII. Though by now, they know he never went to Yugoslavia during the war. He is a lecturer of historiography, it appears, and he had an unexceptional, though particularly hard war in France. Though it is all fantasy, his sojourn with the young soldiers is the best part of the book, albeit all too short.
While all of the writing has power and often beauty, I felt strangely detached.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Doris Lessing is like an oracle; she has a very rare gift of tapping into the human soul, yet all the while entertaining the dross of our personality. Read morePublished on 25 Sept. 2011 by Trajet