Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five
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Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (Canopus in Argos #2)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  692 ratings  ·  45 reviews
The second in Doris Lessing's visionary novel cycle Canopus in Argos: Archives. It is a mix of fable, futuristic fantasy and pseudo-documentary accounts of 20th-century history.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 1st 1994 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1980)
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Like Shikasta, this book is also a bit of a mess, but with some brilliant moments. My favorite scene occurs near the beginning. Al·Ith (I don't know how you're supposed to pronounce it either), the proud, independently-minded queen of Zone Three, has somehow been obliged to marry Ben Ata, the coarse, soldierly king of Zone Four. They know nothing about each other. He tries a couple of unsuccessful conversational openings, then, frustrated, pushes her over on her back, holds her down, and efficie...more
Azza Raslan
I loved the Canopus in Argos series. All the parts complemented each other, and although externally the books seemed unrelated, at the end, when you've read the last page of the last book, the pattern emerges loud and clear - Wake up humans, you are destroying your planet and your life.
I believe The Marriage Between Zones Three, Four, and Five is one of the best books I have read in my entire life.
boy, they just don't write 'em like that any more.

well, but of course they do.

still, we are talking about Doris Lessing here.

i recently was reminded of this series. i'd read them when they first came out. of all of them i remember finding this one the most accessible, the story most appealing. i am re-reading them one by one and shall report... but now, this one.

how is it she could set up such obvious stereotypes and still make them breathe? the brutish lout of a husband, the wife a victim with...more
Paul Kieniewicz
How do you set a novel in the afterlife while avoiding hackneyed formulae derived from spiritism or theology? Jean Paul Sartre gave us a memorable example in his play, No Exit where hell is a hotel with endless rooms. In science fiction, Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld Series presents an engineered afterlife. Many SF writers followed that model, presenting prosaic variations on our world. Closer to Scotland, is Neil Gunn’s Green Isle of the Great, a dystopian Garden of Eden ruled by fascists, wi...more
Fenixbird SandS
Oct 14, 2007 Fenixbird SandS marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All women & adults
One of a dozen or so books by recent Nobel literature prizewinner Doris Lessing. I WANT TO READ THIS ONE, ESPECIALLY SHORT STORY "THE FIFTH CHILD" (paperback) AND "THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK."

Quoting NY TIMES' reporters Motoko Rich & Sarah Lyall:

"Ms. Lessing’s strongest legacy may be that she inspired a generation of feminists with her breakthrough novel, “The Golden Notebook.” In its citation, the Swedish Academy said: “The burgeoning feminist movement saw it as a pioneering work, and it belongs t...more
Mikael Kuoppala
After the dry and chaotic opening, Lessing's Sci-fi series continues with a completely different installment. "Marriages" is a streamlined, clear, carefully balanced fable told with beautiful language. The storytelling is colorful and deeply emotional, as well as tightly analytical.

The novel takes place in mysterious "zones" surrounding our world. Zone Three is inhabited by a traditionally matriarchal society that is socially equal, peaceful, aesthetic, restrained and ritualistic. The people the...more
Dec 26, 2008 Patrick marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
WHEN George Orwell complained just after World War II about the decay of the English language, he insisted that its decline was not inevitable. While pessimists argued that our language - like the civilization it reflects - was doomed, Orwell insisted that ''The process is reversible.'' If language is languishing, he urged its rescue; if thought is sloppy, well, it was time to think clearly.

Now, writing out of the same country as Orwell, but out of a less pragmatic political tradition, the Briti...more
I re-read The Marriages Between Zones ... over Christmas, and was no less impressed than when I read the book in 1980. The more interesting and gritty character is Ben Ata, representing a static patriarchal zone functioning within a strict structure, initially dramatised as is the way of fables. Ben Ata is both repelling and fascinating to Al Ith, who represents a static matriarchal zone, where intuition, while highly valued, has created a trance of harmony. Destiny (the Providers) call them to...more
There is a scene particularly loved by our artists who embellish it with a vast yellow moon positioned so that it is close to, or behind Al.Ith's head. Or there is a delightful crescent set off by a star or two. and they oft add a large peacock, whose shimmering tail fills the orchard with reflected light.
But it is on the whole a realistic depiction, and I am saying this because it is the last of the truthful scenes.

The second in the Canopus in Argos: Archives series is an allegory about love an...more
The idea that human civilisation be divided in accordance with stages of "spiritual" evolution is fascinating, and I could really sense the longing of each "Zone" for the learning and beauty of the next higher one. In a way, this resembles the religious devotee's longing for heaven, or God, or Brahman, the scientist's longing for Answers. And most of us have experienced this desperate urge to reach out to that which is "higher" than us.

I picked this book because I did enjoy Shikasta, no matter t...more
От того, как Лессинг описывает предрассудки в отношении деления мужской-женский мир, используя для этого романтизированную историю вымышленных миров, а также от женской интонации материнства и мужской интонации подавления меня просто тошнит, как тошнило бы в раскачивающейся машине. Книги, в которых есть материнство, брак, взаимозависимость - и их анализ, травматичны. Книга абсолютно чужда, но правдива - и этим крута.
Jer McS
Science fiction (or, as Margaret Atwood might say, speculative fiction) this inventive deserves all the kudos it receives. This one, the best of her Canopus series in my estimation, is a rich fable you puzzle over, or a chronicle of lost history you're glad has been recovered.
I liked this book much better than Shikasata. While it started out as a fairly typical fantasy style novel instead of plots and magic it was people sitting around in rooms talking and having sex and trying to figure out what was going on with their cultures. I really liked that. It was all about the characters and their development and I really enjoyed the characters and the way they started to interact with their different roles in society. I still didn't like the way the characters had no free...more
Leggendolo all'inizio non ho potuto fare a meno di pensare al "Calice e la Spada" di Riane Eisler: la cultura matriarcale basata sulla pace e l'armonia che si incontra/scontra con quella tipicamente maschile basata sul potere, sulla guerra, la violenza e i soprusi sulle donne. Poi via via il racconto si � arricchito: la conoscenza e l'accettazione dell'altro non annichilisce la propria identit� come pu� sembrare all'inizio, ma fa capire che c'� sempre qualcosa da desiderare, un'utopia da raggiun...more
A great book! So many ideas and so much caught my attention in this book. One concept that remains with me is that it's possible to lose a chance to improve oneself.
A little too gender-normative, but interesting nonetheless. An exploration in prose of the limits of absolute femininity and masculinity and the intersections between these idealized, romanticized and poetic realms. Lessing is a fantastic writer, but the absolute nature of her genders - here rather essentialist for sake of argument - was a bit frustrating. Lessing advocates a social meld between masculine and feminine tendencies for a perfect, harmonious society, but whether she wishes this to b...more
-En Shikasta también es muy popular el enfrentamiento entre el feminismo militante y la misoginia activista. Y el marcador suele terminar igual que aquí-.

Género. Narrativa Fantástica

Lo que nos cuenta. Segundo Libro de la Serie Canopus en Argos: Archivos, en el que los dirigentes del Imperio de Canopus conciertan el matrimonio entre la reina de la zona tres y el rey de la zona cuatro del planeta Shikasta, territorios con idiosincrasias y situaciones diametralmente opuestas.

¿Quiere saber más de es...more
An extraordinary book, like nothing I ever read before.
Apr 08, 2014 Katariina marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
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Francesco Robbiano
Mi perdonino coloro che lo hanno trovato molto profondo. In effetti forse lo �, ma con uno schema narrativo noioso. La mutazione di reazioni e stati d'animo dei personaggi viene continuamente proposta con una certa monotonia e con troppa frammentariet�. Ci sono pretese di allegoria, e a larghi tratti troppo rimarcate, funziona bene secondo me solo l'idea di "olismo" che fa da leitmotif alla storia. Ma viene espressa bene solo a pagina 246... La traduzione non � priva di ambiguit� e anche di qual...more
someone I admire recommended this book, when it arrives via's my next read. Hillary, was kind enough to procure this through the library loaner program, as its out of print and hard to find. The last geniune allegory I read was Pilgrims Progress, Doris made it easier! Simplified view of relationships, change and destiny as the author explore matriarch, patriarch, and spiritual societies. It gets my votes and leaves a lasting impression.
Brilliant book. When searching through my multiple times moved bookshelves several times to find it, so I could read it again, now. It is an insightful exploration of relationships between men and women and of levels of understanding that exist between people who love but do not necessarily understand each other. While I struggled through and appreciated Shikasta, this one speaks to the heart and my mythic sensibilities.
Francesca Hampton
A book that helped me immensely in my own maturation into adulthood. In the guise of a fascinating science fiction tale about five interlocked realms of existence on earth, not visible to each other, she explores the kaleidoscope of ways man and women both degrade and enhance each other and ultimately bring each other to a state of greater insight into the nature and purpose of being alive.
Colin McPhillamy
Number two in Doris Lessing's sic-fi/fantasy quintet. A fairytale cosmology, reflected elsewhere in the series. The two principal characters are cleverly fleshed out and rounded, while their symbolic, allegoric and political meanings can be extrapolated by the reader. A simple tale and a complex one. It's fairytale frame hides an extended treatise on relations between the sexes. A beautiful book!
Sandra Willey
I have a character trait/flaw that makes it nigh unto impossible for me to give 5 stars to anything.
This is another of those wonderful fugue state, dream state, archetypal myth stirring stories. Deeply moving on a deep level. Like a fairy tale you secretly understand to be true. It stirs my subconscious right at the seam where I am joined to yours. A little disconcerting.
Boy, I dunno...I thought Re Colonized Planet 5 Shikasta was amazing, but this? Reductive gender tropes mixed with utopian seventies counterculture noodling! Whee! Geez. Not saying this is totally worthless, but I'm gonna have to stick it in the "no" pile and hope the series regains its bearings from here.
Ben Richmond
It's possible to read this book as an obnoxious (and kind of weak) reflection on gender, but Lessing is savvy enough to give herself an out in the form of a not-totally-trustworthy narrator, and her characteristically beautiful prose. Quite a bit of weeping though.
This is nothing more than Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus in a cheesy fantasy setting. There's nothing fresh in the idea or execution of this novel, just sad seventies gender stereotyping, cod-feminism and tenth rate horsey-love. Raspberry!
more fantasy than the sci-fi i was expecting. there were certainly well-handled moments that made me feel insight into & compassion for the characters, but these were inevitably countered by moments of gender essentialism or just plain wtf??-ness.
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Both of her parents were British: her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia; her mother had been a nurse. In 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, the family moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Like other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school (such as Oliv...more
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The Golden Notebook The Fifth Child The Grass is Singing The Good Terrorist The Memoirs of a Survivor

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