Bookmark and Share

A Daughter Of Kermanshah Nobelized


By Darius KADIVAR, Paris


Doris Lessing to be Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2007(*)


Doris Lessing was born in Kermanshah, Iran on
October 22nd , 1919 (photocomposition ©DK)


The novels and short stories of Persian (Iranian)-born British writer Doris Lessing are largely concerned with people caught in the social and political upheavals of the 20th century. Central themes in Lessing's works are feminism as was the case for other major female authors such as Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedman, Germaine Greer, Marilyn French, the battle of the sexes, individuals in search of wholeness, and the dangers of technological and scientific hubris. Doris Lessing will be awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature. Since 1949, she has lived in England but she is also considered an African writer because she grew up and was educated in Zimbabwe (former Rhodesia).


Doris Lessing spent her early childhood in Kermanshah, Persia (now Iran). Her English-born father, Alfred Cook Tayler, who had lost his leg and health in World War I, was a bank clerk with the Imperial Bank of Persia. Emily McVeagh, Lessing's mother, had been trained as a nurse. In the mid-1920s the family bought with their life savings a maize farm in the district of Banket, in the Lomagundi area of Southern Rhodesia, where Lessing grew up with her younger brother Harry. Her childhood was lonely, the nearest neighbors were miles away and there was no real roads between the farms.


In 1926 Lessing was sent to a convent school in Salisbury (now Harare), where the Roman Catholic teachers tried to convert her from the family's Protestant faith. "I was cripplingly homesick," Lessing later said. She left the Girls' High School at the age of fourteen and then earned her living as a nursemaid, telephone operator and clerk. At nineteen she married Frank Wisdom, a civil servant; they had two children. The marriage ended in 1943. For some years Lessing was an active member of the Communist Party, which was formally banned in Southern Rhodesia. This period of her life is reflected in A RIPPLE FROM THE STORM (1958) of the five-volume sequence Children of the Violence, the first four of which were set in a fictional African colony, Zambesia. In 1943 Lessing married the German political activist Gottfried Lessing, a member of the inner circle of the Rhodesian Communist Party. He was the model for Anton Hesse in A Ripple from the Storm and Willi Rodde in THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK (1962). Gottfried Lessing became later the German ambassador to Uganda; he and his third wife were murdered in the 1979 revolt against Idi Amin.


 The Daughter of Kermanshah and lover of Cats was a leading
feminist author of the XXth century. (photocomposition ©DK)



Lessing's second marriage also failed and in 1949 she moved to England with her youngest child and the manuscript of her first novel, The Grass is Singing, which appeared in 1950. The story, set in Rhodesia, focused on a poor white farm woman, Mary Turner, and her weak husband. She has a relationship with her African servant, Moses, who eventually kills her.


From the 1950s onwards Lessing supported herself and her son by writing. Disillusioned with Communist policies in England, Lessing left the party in the mid-1950s. She underwent Jungian analysis and also studied Sufism under the guidance of Idres Shah. In 1979 Lessing set up a Sufi Trust for one hundred thousand dollars.


Many critics consider Children of Violence, Lessing's semi-autobiographical series of novels about Martha Quest, her most substantial work. FOUR-GATED CITY (1969), the last volume, closes with Martha's death in destroyed world at the end of the twentieth century. It has been said that Children of Violence and more The Canopus in Argos reflect the influence of Sufist thought on Lessing's literary work and concern with the union of the soul with a Higher Being.


 Shirine Ebadi Iranian Nobel Peace Laureate 2003
with Host Stars
Catherine Zeta Jones & husband
Michael Douglas at  Nobel Prize Good Will
Concert ©
 Nobelinstituttet Arne Knudsen






Authors Notes:

(*) Bio and Review of Books see full article and for Doris Lessing’s Nobel Prize Announcement see BBC report


Official Website for Nobel Prize Foundation


Particularly Cats by Doris Lessing first published in 1967 is an insightful outlook on Cat behaviors and their human partners.


Recommended Readings:


About the Author:
Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian, and Media Consultant.

© Copyright 2007 (All Rights Reserved)