Thursday, October 11, 2007

Brava, Doris

Doris Lessing is the recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Doris Lessing is not one of my favorite authors. I might not even exactly say that I like her work; but I recognize its worth, and its importance. I like my literature a little more heartwarming. That said, Doris was a party to one of the great epiphanies of my life. In the spring of 1990 I was taking a course on British Woman Writers and wanted to write a final paper on The Story of an African Farm. My professor insisted that I compare SoaAF with Martha Quest. I did not want to do this, and I whined for a while. I told the professor that I found Martha Quest not only unsympathetic, but also unbelievable as a character, because she was able to believe in totally contrary things simultaneously, and was so deceived about what was going on in her own life. In fact, the thesis of my paper ultimately ended up being, essentially, "Lyndall can't believe in anything; Martha believes in everything."

Then my boyfriend who never wanted to kiss me or spend time with me broke up with me on Sunday morning of Houseparties weekend, and my soul smacked itself on the forehead. Because, you see, at some level I knew it all the time. While I planned the rest of our lives together I knew that my boyfriend did not love me, at least not in the way that he ought to. La Quest, c'etait moi.

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