Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Walking in the Shade - Doris Lessing

I started with this volume of Lessing's autobiography just because the library doesn't have the first volume. I knew most of it would be irrelevant for my purposes, and originally planned to just hunt out the Africa bits, and leave the rest for now. I ended up reading the whole thing, and it turned out to be the most absorbing book I have read for ages. I now desperately want to read the first volume. And The Golden Notebook. And just about everything else she's written.

Some of the beginning might be interesting - the part where she describes leaving Rhodesia and arriving in London, her first impressions and her comparisons. There's another bit around the middle (1956 or so) where she writes about a trip back to Rhodesia. Maybe some of the sections about hosting and hanging out with African leaders in exile, but those are pretty factual and to-the-point.

An interesting contrast would be someone British traveling to Rhodesia around the same time. I thought of Alexandra Fuller (Don't Let's go to the dogs tonight), but, as Fuller herself says in the book, she has no memory of England, no memories of ever not being in Africa. And she lived there, so there is no new arrival's first impression, no contrast like the ones Lessing gives. Different time periods, too. So no, probably not Fuller, there must be someone else who is a closer mirror of Lessing's experience.


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