Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

El cuaderno dorado

Rate this book
Reconocida como la obra más emblemática de Doris Lessing, testimonio clave sobre la condición femenina y crónica de una generación, El cuaderno dorado relata la profunda crisis vital de la escritora y militante comunista Anna Wulf. Intentará salvarse con una nueva forma de mirar la realidad, y a tal fin Anna se lanza a escribir varios cuadernos, cada uno dedicado a una parcela de su existencia: el rojo, dedicado a la política; el amarillo, con historias procedentes de la experiencia; y el azul, que intenta ser un diario. Pero al no conseguir que den una imagen completa de su vida, empieza a escribir el cuaderno dorado, en el que ambiciona plasmar todos los cabos sueltos de su historia.
Una lúcida novela sobre la condición de ser mujer en un mundo dominado por los hombres.

736 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1962

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Doris Lessing

448 books2,599 followers
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 Olive Schreiner and Nadine Gordimer), Lessing made herself into a self-educated intellectual.

In 1937 she moved to Salisbury, where she worked as a telephone operator for a year. At nineteen, she married Frank Wisdom, and later had two children. A few years later, feeling trapped in a persona that she feared would destroy her, she left her family, remaining in Salisbury. Soon she was drawn to the like-minded members of the Left Book Club, a group of Communists "who read everything, and who did not think it remarkable to read." Gottfried Lessing was a central member of the group; shortly after she joined, they married and had a son.

During the postwar years, Lessing became increasingly disillusioned with the Communist movement, which she left altogether in 1954. By 1949, Lessing had moved to London with her young son. That year, she also published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, and began her career as a professional writer.

In June 1995 she received an Honorary Degree from Harvard University. Also in 1995, she visited South Africa to see her daughter and grandchildren, and to promote her autobiography. It was her first visit since being forcibly removed in 1956 for her political views. Ironically, she is welcomed now as a writer acclaimed for the very topics for which she was banished 40 years ago.

In 2001 she was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in Literature, one of Spain's most important distinctions, for her brilliant literary works in defense of freedom and Third World causes. She also received the David Cohen British Literature Prize.

She was on the shortlist for the first Man Booker International Prize in 2005. In 2007 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

(Extracted from the pamphlet: A Reader's Guide to The Golden Notebook & Under My Skin, HarperPerennial, 1995. Full text available on www.dorislessing.org).

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
6,882 (30%)
4 stars
7,420 (33%)
3 stars
5,056 (22%)
2 stars
2,101 (9%)
1 star
971 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,096 reviews
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,588 followers
May 26, 2016
Dear class:

Welcome to an exclusive Goodreads seminar on Doris Lessing’s classic 1962 novel The Golden Notebook!

Let’s start with a quiz, shall we?

1. What’s the best reason for reading this book?
A) It’s a feminist classic, and still speaks to feminists – male and female – today.
B) It’s a seminal contemporary novel, and its challenging structure – there’s a traditional novel about a London writer named Anna Wulf, interspersed with four notebooks that individually address Anna’s various interests (growing up in Africa, Communism, trying to write a second book after a very successful first one, daily life, dreams and psychoanalysis) – still feels bold half a century later.
C) Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature and her crotchety response to journalists when she heard about it remains priceless.
D) The book addresses big questions, like: What happens when we become disillusioned with our political ideals? How do we reconcile the various parts of ourselves: sexual being, responsible parent, sympathetic partner, loyal friend, concerned global citizen? Can we integrate them? How do we define a “good” person, and why is a good man so damn hard to find?
E) All of the above.

Answer: E

2. It’s a long book, well over 600 pages. Does it need to be that long?
A) Yes. Every sentence is perfect. There’s no repetition. It’s very tidy. I don’t know why you’re even asking this question. Shame on you.
B) God no. But neither art nor life are clean, with all the edges folded neatly. Lessing understands this. Art can get messy, requiring sketches, multiple drafts, thumb prints in the margins. Family life can seethe with resentments and bitterness, like a pot that’s boiled over on the stove. And sex and relationships? Sheesh. Let’s be honest. We’re not always rational in those departments. We can find ourselves dating or sleeping with the same sort of person for all sorts of f-cked up reasons. We make mistakes. That’s the human condition. So writing about all of that has to be messy too. Besides, it seems that Lessing penned “the well-written” novel before this. She’s trying something new.
C) I suppose not. But imagine being her editor. I can see Lessing fighting to include even the more difficult, earnest, rambling passages. (And there are quite a few.)
D) It’s not really that long. And flipping back to the contents page, which tells you how long each chapter is, is handy. (Pro tip: the chapters tend to get shorter as the book progresses!) And there are playful connections BETWEEN the sections which turn you into a literary detective! It's (sort of) fun!

Answer: B (half marks for C and/or D)

3. This book has a reputation for being serious. Is there any humour?
A) No! Lessing deals with Communism, art, a (possible) nervous breakdown, class, colonialism in Africa and the uneasy war between the sexes in the 1940s and 50s. Those are serious subjects!
B) Um, you’re in the literature section. The humour section is in another part of the store.
C) So now you’re in the humour section. I recommend Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me. They’re both funny but they’re also very real… oh, sorry.
D) Hell, yes. There are a couple of hilarious scenes of Anna meeting with TV and movie people who want to adapt her best-selling first novel for another medium and (of course) have no idea what her book’s about and want to completely alter it into something sanitized and safe. And there are some horrible, funny examples of earnest Communist-themed fiction that Anna has to consider for publication, which contributes to her eventually leaving the party.

Answer: D

4. What’s the most shocking sequence to a reader today?
A) The scenes where Anna/(alter ego) Ella thinks only of pleasing a man.
B) The continual discussion about the lack of “real men” and the dismissive attitude towards homosexuality.
C) The tampon scene.
D) The stilted conversations between Anna and her friend Molly.
E) The frank talk about vaginal vs. clitoral orgasms and having orgasms while in love with one's partner.

Answer: “Shocking” is a strong word, but… any of the above were surprising in different ways.

5. Will you read more books by Doris Lessing?
A) Yes. I want to read her five-novel Children Of Violence series, which seems to deal with some of the same themes as The Golden Notebook. I'm also keen to read her popular first book, The Grass Is Singing, which is set in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and put her on the map. (I'm pretty sure there are parallels between this book and the fictional book Anna wrote in Notebook.)
B) Yes. I’m moderately curious about her science fiction. Clearly her quest for answers extended beyond our planet. But her five-volume Canopus In Argos series is hard to find, even in good bookstores and libraries. (Fun fact: she collaborated with Philip Glass on operas based on two of these books!)
C) Yes. Since The Golden Notebook deals with “reality vs. art,” I’m curious about the facts of Lessing’s life, which she revealed in a series of memoirs and autobiographies. Note: Lessing called her 1974 sci-fi dystopia Memoirs Of A Survivor an “attempt at an autobiography.”
D) Yes. Lessing also published several volumes of short stories, most famously "To Room Nineteen," which deals with open relationships, another theme of this book. Lessing even wrote books under a pseudonym (see: The Diaries Of Jane Somers).
E) No. This book gave me a headache, and I found the central character a whiny, privileged white woman going on about first-world problems.

Answer: A, B, C and D are all fine. And I totally understand E. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
January 21, 2020
We were neither of us at all clever, we were too happy.

3 1/2 stars. Another book where a five-star rating system is woefully inadequate. 3 1/2 stars doesn't even begin to explain all the thoughts I had while reading The Golden Notebook.

There were parts that I loved. I must have collected several dozen quotes on women and human nature that just seemed so fresh and insightful. Quite unlike anything I'd read before. Then there were other parts that were so laborious I wondered how anyone had managed to push through it. This inconsistency is to be expected, I suppose, because of the book's format. In that it is separated into the four notebooks kept by Anna, each pertaining to a different aspect of her life.

This fragmentation is a central theme of the novel. Anna's life and mental health fracture; the Communist Party she was long a member of is falling apart; women's place in society and the way they think about sex and marriage is changing. These are not fleeting touches, but are analysed in depth over the course of the novel.

Anna's notebooks are an attempt to get a grip on her life, and yet they may be perpetuating the problem. She documents and reviews her experiences in Southern Rhodesia in a black notebook, records her disillusionment with the Communist Party in a red notebook, writes a novel mirroring her own life and relationship upheaval in a yellow notebook, and keeps an inconsistent diary in a blue notebook. The final golden notebook is an attempt to bring all these fragments of her life together.

It is essentially the story of a woman trying to unite many contradicting aspects of her identity-- a story which also parallels the broken society that existed during the Cold War Era. Fighting the colour bar and class struggles in Southern Rhodesia, whilst simultaneously embodying cliches of British colonialism. The Communist Party violating human rights whilst attempting to empower the people. Women falling desperately in love whilst being the new kind of "free women".

You know, I think writing this review has really helped me understand how interesting I found certain parts of this book. I'm just not sure how much the fascinating themes really justify the length of this novel and the other 50-60% that wasn't so fascinating. Some slog to get to the goods is, of course, forgivable, but I also now fully understand why several of my friends reacted to my reading The Golden Notebook with "good luck, I never finished that one".

It's a slow, complex, meandering tale that captures so much about being a woman in Britain during this strange and changing time. There were times when I was just hoping it would end, and yet when it did, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Facebook | Instagram
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
December 11, 2017
"It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative."

Maybe 50 or 100 pages into the novel, I knew (and felt it as a physical sensation, a shiver going down my spine) that Doris Lessing had written the perfect description of the compartmentalised psyche of the modern world. The myth of my times!

I don't share each political view she demonstrated in the red notebook, but I can certainly see myself writing a political diary that is forcibly separated from other notebooks, depicting my emotional or intellectual or casual everyday worries. My approach to emotional matters and to education and literature may also be of a different kind, and my everyday life is clearly different from the 1950s London that serves as a backdrop for The Golden Notebook. But it doesn't matter, I still recognise the golden thread leading through all those different, confusing strands of life that are carefully cut off from each other by the writer's abstract intellectual power.

My golden notebook would probably look like a rainbow, mixing up various notes that belong to two or three books at the same time, making a big mess of emotions, intellectual and political challenges. It would show my helpless attempts at writing down the chaos that invades my life each day. I would need notebooks for teaching, for parenting, for art, for... Modern life is rich, complicated, and full of confusing information.

But it doesn't really matter that the details of my imaginary notebooks would be different from the major story lines in Lessing's masterpiece. When I read this novel, I felt for the first time that someone had been brave enough to dare to open up the compartments of complicated, contradictory thoughts and feelings, that someone dared to ask the questions that others ignored because the answers were either too painful and depressing or simply too nonsensical: Pandora's box ripped wide open, and one question mark after the other pouring out, leaving hope for an answer lonely at the bottom:

The question of race.
The question of entitlement.
The question of gender.
The question of sexuality.
The question of power.
The question of indoctrination.
The question of dissidence.
The question of love.
The question of submission.
The question of community.
The question of solitude.
The question of responsibility.
The question of freedom.
The question of slavery.

The question of humankind - divided into different compartments that consistently meet, fight, attract, and eat each other.

Ten years ago, Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the argument was that she was "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny."

That sentence, including the "female experience", made me angry. What is wrong with a world that needs to define her writing as that of "female experience", when men writing about their personal perspective speak for "humanity"? Why not award - to use a random example - Coetzee's presumably "male experience", as shown in his outrageously misogynistic meditations on male Youth?

Men, apparently, still have "universal" experience while women have "female" experience? In my perception, Lessing wrote as much about male as about female experience, and she spoke of the challenges women and men face in the world. Just like Coetzee. She is a writer of "human experience", I hope, for I wouldn't want to believe only one half of humanity is capable of conducting four diaries simultaneously and of combining them to the golden notebook of their existence. Weaving by day, unweaving by night, thus we carry on until the end, whether our shroud is finished or not. Men and women, with their "individual and collective experience".

Lessing is a must-read for men and women who are interested in finding the various facets of their emotional and intellectual patterns. The Golden Notebook is her masterpiece, a classic, an odyssey told by a modern woman instead of an ancient man.

And just like the ancient epic, it speaks to all of us who love and cherish storytelling as a means to combine the different threads of our lives to a meaningful rainbow pattern.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews34 followers
February 2, 2022
The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

The Golden Notebook is a 1962 novel, by Doris Lessing. The Golden Notebook is the story of writer Anna Wulf, the four notebooks in which she records her life, and her attempt to tie them together in a fifth, gold-colored notebook.

The book intersperses segments of an ostensibly realistic narrative of the lives of Anna and her friend, Molly Jacobs, as well as their children, ex-husbands and lovers—entitled Free Women— with excerpts from Anna's four notebooks, colored Black (of Anna's experience in Southern Rhodesia, before and during World War II, which inspired her own best-selling novel), Red (of her experience as a member of the Communist Party), Yellow (an ongoing novel that is being written based on the painful ending of Anna's own love affair), and Blue (Anna's personal journal where she records her memories, dreams, and emotional life).

Each notebook is returned to four times, interspersed with episodes from Free Women, creating non-chronological, overlapping sections that interact with one another.

This post-modern styling, with its space for "play" engaging the characters and readers, is among the most famous features of the book, although Lessing insisted that readers and reviewers pay attention to the serious themes in the novel.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوم ماه مارس سال2009میلادی

عنوان: دفتر یادداشت طلایی؛ اثر: دوریس لسینگ؛ برگردان: اصغر اندرودی؛ نشر کرج، در دانش بهمن، سال‫1387 در586ص، شابک9789641740834؛ موضوع داستان‌های نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده20م

یادمانهای نویسنده‌ ای به نام «آنا والف» را باز می‌گوید؛ «آنا» چهار دفترچه ی یادداشت، با رنگ‌های: «سیاه»، «قرمز»، «زرد» و «آبی» دارد، که در آنها یادمانها و آزمودگی زندگی خویش را نگاشته اند؛ دفترچه ی «سیاه» با ویژگی یادمانهایی از زندگی ایشان در «افریقا»، در زمان جنگ جهانگیر دوم است؛ دفترچه ی «قرمز» به عضویت نافرجام ایشان، در گروه‌های کمونیستی میپردازد، و دفترچه ی «زرد» به شکست عشقی و فروپاشی زندگی خانوادگی با همسرش، و دفترچه ی «آبی» به احساسات درونی، رویاها و آروزوهایش میپردازد؛ این نویسنده می‌خواهد در دفترچه‌ ای «طلایی» رنگ، همه ی یادمانهای خویش را در کنار هم بگذارد

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 21/12/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 12/11/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Petra on hiatus, really unwell.
2,457 reviews34.4k followers
October 6, 2016
Given up because although it was well written and the characters developed well early on, I just have no interest at all in the upper middle class who have angst and money instead of housework and jobs. They pontificated about sex and politics and other people's affairs when the rest of the country were out working and thinking of who was cooking dinner that night and whether or not tuppence on the tax each week was going to make school trips a bit difficult. Just not what I want to read about right now.

Two stars because generally I really like Lessing and I love her writing.
Profile Image for Robin.
493 reviews2,731 followers
March 29, 2019
I am full of a deep, manic relief at being released from the reading of this book. I feel the need to skip, to jump joyfully into the air, to cry out to the world : I did it! I did it! And I never have to do it again!

A few years ago I read Doris Lessing's debut novel The Grass is Singing, which I adored. It doesn't necessarily mean that I should therefore adore this, her much lauded, much revered, "feminist" (but don't let her hear you call it that) 1962 masterpiece. But I did hope.

The thing is, they are both two radically different animals. The Grass is Singing is a novel - a great one. The Golden Notebook is something completely different altogether. I might say it's a test of one's endurance. It definitely tested mine.

I didn't get off to a good start. The first part (which lasts 230 small-typed pages) was SO dry. So dry I started to feel panicky, the way I feel when I've been very thirsty for far too long and I start to doubt I will ever see water again. And then someone hands me a glass of CINNAMON to gulp down. That's how dry. I thought, I just might die reading these pages.

But I chastised myself and told myself to give it a fair chance - Robin, this is Doris Lessing, for goodness' sake, she's so ridiculously smart she's terrifying, and you could learn a thing or two from her. Plus you've got two male friends here on Goodreads who seem to have 'gotten' her (Glenn's review and Alex's review), so why the hell can't you?

So I started part two with renewed vigour, and damn, I was hooked, I was IN, my little grey cells were tingling, the book moved with me through my day. I was interested in the notebooks, in the search for self, in the struggle men and women have with each other. I loved the character of Anna who lives 'freely' - has sex with whomever she pleases, always striving to be truthful to her convictions. I was in awe of the unique, demanding structure too. (I was not, however, so interested in her communist ramblings, the psychoanalytic ramblings, her very strange attitude towards homosexuality, or anything that she had to say that was in a paragraph that lasted 5+ pages.)

Then, as I was rounding the bend into the final section, I was again engulfed in dryness. In repetition, in a didactic Sahara, in an overly intellectual, self-absorbed voice that I wanted so badly to stop. And now that I'm finished, I'm left wishing that I could really understand what was the point of it all.

In her introduction to the novel, Doris Lessing is very grumpy with what critics have said about the book. She says it's not feminist. It's not about finding the perfect man or woman, either. It's more, she says, about breakdowns as a path to healing. I see that in Anna's gradual descent towards madness, in Tommy's journey too. Mainly though, what I took away from this novel is that we are all just lost kids, searching for a way to make sense of ourselves and the world, all in the absurd constructs of "society". It gets messy, really messy. And we can't fix it all. But we can pick up our feet and take the next step, pick up the phone and call our best friend, pick up our pen and write the next word, roll that boulder a quarter inch up the hill. That's all we can do. And it takes a hell of a lot of courage, some days.

It's a small painful courage which is at the root of every life, because injustice and cruelty is at the root of life.

Huh, that's pretty deep. I don't disagree, Doris. I just wish you could have said it in a lot less pages.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
March 17, 2020

“I was filled with such a dangerous delicious intoxication that I could have walked straight off the steps into the air, climbing on the strength of my own drunkenness into the stars. And the intoxication, as I knew even then, was the recklessness of infinite possibility.”

 photo 1e298600-b5b0-4d65-8b91-7ee9bc3ff2e4_zpsql8qrqdc.gif
I would say that Miss Lessing was very fetching when she was younger, but I don’t want to be accused of objectifying her. :-)

Anna keeps four notebooks, each representing different versions of herself, all with the intent of discovering the truth about herself. The red, the yellow, the black, and the blue covers, if all goes well, will merge into one golden notebook. An evolution of understanding that will set her free.

Free of what you might ask?

If she can ever discover her true self, she can escape the traitorous self she has always been. It is proving nearly impossible. ”I read this over today, for the first time since I wrote it. It’s full of nostalgia, every word loaded with it, although at the time I wrote it I thought I was being ‘objective.’ Nostalgia for what? I don’t know. Because I’d rather die than have to live through any of that again. And the ‘Anna’ of that time is like an enemy, or like an old friend one has known too well and doesn’t want to see.”

The only way to escape our past is to understand it. We must be at peace with it, but the past seeps into the present and the future, despite our best efforts to control it. ”At that time in my life, for reasons I didn’t understand until later, I didn’t let myself be chosen by men who really wanted me.” She isn’t that person now, not that it has made her any happier. By believing this, it says a lot about how she felt about herself. Any man who found her attractive or interesting became less desirable to her. Now she does let men choose her, and that has led to a series of temporary, unfulfilling relationships with married men. Did she learn from her past or is this just another form of avoiding commitment?

Their marriages are of no interest to her nor is she interested in the prospect of a marriage for herself. How can she discover who she is if she has to live in the shadow of a man as Mrs. _______? Marriage allows him to define her, and that elusive free self she is looking for will be forever buried under the avalanche of lost time given to achieving his desires, satisfying his whims, and helping him be successful. ”I am always amazed, in myself and in other women, at the strength of our need to bolster men up. This is ironical, living as we do in a time of men’s criticising us for being ‘castrating’…. for the truth is, women have this deep instinctive need to build a man up as a man…. I suppose this is because real men become fewer and fewer, and we are frightened, trying to create men.”

As women are trying to find themselves, define themselves, men are losing themselves. Men used to have clearly delineated roles... hunt, kill, protect... that evolved into... sports/academics, careers, providing. They were the head of household, but now that is less likely as women are becoming more successful in the work force. Men are being diminished as the balance of power in a household has shifted to something more equal. This is not a bad thing, but it is creating necessary adjustments for men who used to have a simple defined goal as to how they would be considered successful. This role is evolving into a blending of responsibilities where much of what they do is not weighed and measured.

Of course, it feels like a step back as men are not needed to be men in the same way they were sixty years ago or a thousand and sixty years ago. Giving up this power has been a long time coming, but women who are dismissive of men who still hold on too tightly to old traditional roles must understand that it is scary to think of who we are without them.

”You’re such a perfectionist. You’re an absolutist. You measure everything against some kind of ideal that exists in your head, and if it doesn’t come up to your beautiful notions then you condemn it out of hand. Or you pretend to yourself that it’s beautiful even when it isn’t.”

I’ve always believe in the old adage that has been attributed to Albert Einstein. “Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.” I don’t know which is more unrealistic.

I was flipping around the channels one day and landed on Oprah, not sure why because I never watch daytime talk shows, but there was a crowd of mostly women complaining about men. As I was listening to them speak, I realized that these women didn’t want more sympathy or more consideration from men, but actually wanted men to be more like them. They wanted men to have similar emotional responses to circumstances as women do. Narcissistic to say the least. Why would anyone want to hold up a mirror to their spouse and see themselves? I think it is important that we react somewhat differently to situations. My son leaving for college was very emotional for my wife who thought she was losing something. For me, his leaving was a matter of pride because I could see him as a man instead of a boy.

So when women talk about changing a man, are they truly talking about changing him into being more like themselves? Are they molding him to fulfill their vision of a progressive, successful future? If this is the case, I would say that the shifting power is having a detrimental effect and could be contributing to an increasing divorce rate. Couples, in my opinion, should be working towards common goals, but also in some cases towards separate goals as well. As women free themselves, they need to make sure they aren’t incarcerating their spouses (unless that turns him on) in the process.

”His green eyes were fixed, not seeing his mouth, like a spoon or a spade or a machine-gun, shot out, spewed out, hot aggressive language, words like bullets. ‘I’m not going to be destroyed by you. By anyone. I’m not going to be shut up, caged, tamed, told be quiet keep your place do as you’re told I’m not...I’m saying what I think, I don’t buy your world.’

It disappoints Anna that when she falls in love with the American, who has been kicked out of the communist party for being anti-Stalinist too soon (It never pays to be right first.), that she falls into a traditional role of wanting exclusivity and finding herself consumed by jealousy. Her whole life’s work has come undone. The golden notebook proves more elusive than the golden snitch.

 photo 4afccf76-8110-47da-9546-1967ba340f62_zpstq3ymkun.gif

This book has carried a heavy load as one of the major pieces of feminist literature. Doris Lessing in 1962 was exploring concepts of what women should be striving for just as a growing number of women were starting to reject the idea that they had to fulfill the male version of what it means to be female. (They may have lost their way in the 1980s with the big shoulder pads. I was so glad when women quit dressing like offensive linemen. The last thing women should do is try to be more like men.) Though there were aspects that I disagreed with in this book, I thought overall it was fairly balanced. Lessing also points out some fallacies in thinking by women even as she celebrates Anna’s attempt to achieve true freedom. Although freedom can sometimes be a very lonely existence.

Understanding yourself so that you can express your true needs is important. Don’t expect others to intuitively know what you want. A revolution without a platform leads to blaming others instead of asking for change. People can make you unhappy or happy for a short time, but ultimately we all have to find ways to make ourselves happy. We have to understand and accept that we will never truly completely know ourselves. Don’t become so wrapped up in a personal philosophy that you forget to live.

Equality doesn’t scare me as long as women are raised up instead of men being brought down.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Guille.
785 reviews1,747 followers
January 9, 2021

“Cada vez que abres una puerta te encuentras con alguien hecho pedazos.”
La novela me ha entusiasmado, me ha parecido estimulante, valiente, viva, inteligente y hermosa, también desconcertante, un profundo análisis del sentimiento de pesadumbre que sufre una mujer que no se conforma con el mundo que conoce, que no se resigna a ser la persona que es, que no soporta la impotencia de no poder mejorar ambos. Una mujer que no tolera a la gente que transige, que no se subleva, que se vende, “que no ha experimentado con su vida, que no ha puesto a prueba los límites”. Una mujer que no acepta que la única alternativa al sufrimiento sea no sentir nada en absoluto. Una mujer que ve como su hija no desea rebelarse contra nada.
“Tal vez valdría más que lo reconociéramos… que el gran sueño se ha desvanecido y que la verdad es otra, que nosotros ya no servimos para nada… Es casi arrogancia no ser capaces de decir eso.”

“Si la gente es capaz de imaginar algo, llega un momento en que lo consigue. —¿Se imaginan qué? —Lo que tú has dicho, bondad, caridad. El poner fin a la animalidad. —Y ahora, para nosotros, ¿qué hay? —Tenemos que conservar el sueño. Porque siempre habrá gente nueva, que no sufre de una parálisis de la voluntad.”
El torbellino de ideas, historias, conversaciones, monólogos, recuerdos, relatos, sueños, diseminados por una estructura fragmentaria de cuadernos que inútilmente quieren compartimentar lo indivisible nos sitúa directamente ante lo que podría ser una intensa catarsis durante una desgarradora sesión de psicoanálisis del tipo “Ahora, háblame de…”, y alguien empieza a “contar algo de…” pero se enreda con miles de otras cosas, mezclándolo todo, para al final confluir en lo que realmente duele, en las angustias, en las contradicciones personales, en las dudas e inseguridades. Un poderoso ejercicio de impudor que estoy seguro de que le hizo sentir más de una vez lo que a uno de los personajes su propio libro: “no puedo leer la novela sin sentir vergüenza, como si fuera desnuda por la calle.”

Como ese mismo personaje de su novela, también Doris Lessing se quejó en su día de lo poco que la habían entendido. Yo mismo no estoy seguro de haberlo hecho. Es tal la imagen que tenía de la autora que se me hizo muy difícil discernir entre lo que pueden ser opiniones que Lessing pone en boca de sus personajes y lo que posiblemente no sea más, ni menos, que un retrato de una cierta intelectualidad de la época y, más concretamente, de la parte femenina de esa intelectualidad.

La autora lamentó que su novela se hubiera interpretado como la lucha irreconciliable e irresoluble de sexos, pero, aunque la novela habla de muchas otras cosas — del colonialismo, del racismo, de la hipocresía social, (muchísimo) del comunismo, del estalinismo, de la estúpida, contraproducente, injusta y desalmada disciplina de los partidos comunistas de la época, de la caza de brujas maccarthista y de la traición de muchos, de la derrota de los ideales y de su abandono, de la literatura y los escritores, de la insatisfacción como fuente de inspiración para artistas y de energía para políticos, de la necesidad de ambos de intentar hacer surgir algo nuevo, de la pasión febril que impele a crear y sin la cual es imposible, del arte como fuga, como lucha y como algo insignificante frente a los horrores de este mundo, del psicoanálisis, de la maternidad… — se ganó a pulso su fama pues de nada habla más que de las relaciones entre hombres y mujeres y de la posición que ambos adoptan en torno a ellas. De hecho, la última parte del cuaderno azul y todo el cuaderno dorado es un auténtico combate a muerte entre un hombre y una mujer al borde de la locura.
“Un orgasmo vaginal es sólo emoción; nada más. Se experimenta como emoción y está expresado en sensaciones que no pueden distinguirse de las emociones… un orgasmo femenino de verdad, y es el que se produce cuando un hombre, movido por lo más profundo de su necesidad y deseo, toma a una mujer y exige que le corresponda.”
Sus opiniones sobre las relaciones hombre-mujer son miles, no pocas realmente sorprendentes, como la cita que antecede, aquí destaco algunas: las mujeres que no pueden conocer a un hombre sin pensar que quizás esté delante del hombre, el fastidio que le causa la cantidad de hombres brillantes que se casan con mujeres estúpidas, mujeres que construyen toda su felicidad o infelicidad en sus relaciones con los hombres o en la ausencia de ellas, mujeres que se odian por ello, hombres que lo quieren todo, pero sólo por el tiempo que lo necesitan, mujeres a las que les gusta ser maltratadas, hombres como perros siempre sedientos de sexo, mujeres que se castigan a sí mismas por no ceder ante los hombres que realmente desean, hombres que necesitan de mujeres sometidas y hombres que ya no pueden desear el sometimiento de las mujeres sin sentirse culpables, hombres que pueden ser felices con varias mujeres y mujeres que solo pueden ser felices con un hombre que las ame, mujeres que solo pueden tener orgasmos vaginales con ese hombre, hombres a los que les asustan las mujeres inteligentes, mujeres que, por ello, disimulan su inteligencia, hombres y mujeres que envidian a aquellos que se sienten a gusto con una vida convencional, mujeres que se desviven por su hijos, hombres que ven a sus hijos como sus herederos, sus asesinos, mujeres que solo tienen hijos porque quieren a un hombre, la mala influencia de los homosexuales, mujeres ancladas en una emoción que las puede volver resentidas, lesbianas o solitarias, hombres que organizan escenas histéricas típicamente femeninas, mujeres a las que los hombres les crean sus deseos y así se lo exigen, hombres y mujeres unidos por el vínculo más estrecho de todos, el sufrimiento que mutuamente se causan, mujeres que pretenden cambiar al hombre, hombres que esperan que las mujeres no lo hagan, hombres y mujeres que acaban siempre decepcionados…
“—Mi querida Julia, hemos escogido ser mujeres libres, y éste es el precio que debemos pagar. Eso es todo. —Libres —exclama Julia—. ¡Libres! ¿De qué sirve que nosotras seamos libres, si ellos no lo son? Te juro que cada uno de ellos, incluso el mejor, cree en la vieja idea de las buenas y las malas mujeres. —Y nosotras ¿qué? Nos llamamos libres, y la verdad es que ellos consiguen tener erecciones cuando están con una mujer que les importa un bledo, mientras que nosotras no podemos tener orgasmos si no les queremos. ¿Qué hay de libre en eso? —Pues has tenido más suerte que yo. Ayer lo pensaba: de los diez hombres con quienes me he acostado estos últimos cinco años, ocho han sido impotentes o padecían eyaculación precoz. Me he culpado a mí misma, claro, como hacemos siempre. ¿No es curioso que hagamos lo posible para echarnos la culpa de todo?”
Posiblemente su gran contribución al feminismo no fuera otra que escribir libre y sinceramente de todos estos temas, estuviera o no equivocada, mostrar sin pudor sus contradicciones, los deseos y sentimientos que ella misma consideraba inapropiados, tratar sobre temas que eran tabú, no solo para las mujeres, también para toda la sociedad de su época, demostrar su inteligencia y su genio incluso a contracorriente de los movimientos progresistas a los que se supone pertenecía, por lo que fue criticada y acusada de traidora, cuando, en realidad, todo ello es lo que hace que una democracia se mantenga viva, que una sociedad avance en libertad e igualdad, algo de lo que posiblemente ahora estemos más que faltos.
“Hay una gran montaña negra. Es la estupidez humana.”
Profile Image for Luís.
1,945 reviews610 followers
August 30, 2023
This novel is not in the classic sense of the term because, for Doris Lessing, literature must have a social scope: it is a matter of telling a story and transmitting an experience. This novel, therefore, has a very particular structure. On the one hand, the gold notebook tells a story called "Free Women," which features two friends, Anna and Molly, living in London in the fifties and who have very similar lives: both are artists and communists and raise a child alone, which at the time made them marginal.
The story begins as a play and shows two friends concerned about Tommy, the son of Molly, a teenager without desire and will who does not know what to do with his life. Besides, the author gives us to read Anna's notebooks. Because Anna, a writer, has given up writing novels but has written her life and experiences in four journals, each reserved for a facet of her personality: the writer, the communist, the woman in love, and the intimate Anna.
I had a lot of trouble getting into history or stories since the anecdotes follow one after the other, each with its atmosphere, and we keep asking ourselves: "Where will this take us? ". And then, without really realizing it, I let myself embark on the vast web that weaves all of Anna's lives. Anna has very analytical writing: she watches herself live and questions her behaviors. It is sometimes very tedious to read it.
We finally understand that Anna is going through a crucial period of her life, full of upheavals. And these upheavals are in the image of the society where she lives, where all references change, and where a woman's status changes. Anna is a single mother who creates a new relationship with men. It is not a comfortable situation. She would like to get married, "like all women," she says. She would like to be loved. She lives very badly to have been abandoned by her lover. She thinks it is essential to be involved in political life and critically look at the world, but she realizes communism is no longer the solution. She wrote a novel that became a bestseller and made her a lot of money, which she finds so guilty that she can no longer write. She realizes she leads her in notebooks that she has failed in all areas of her life, which causes her to have severe depression.
Anna is going through what the Americans call the "middle-life crisis," when you must give up many of your youthful illusions. Anna eventually gets by, but the reader becomes physically exhausted as this analytical writing is confusing and seems to turn into a hellish circle.
Do you have to get so close to madness to become yourself? I am not convinced.
Phew !! It is the first book I find ridiculous and complicated, but our happiness from this reading is as impressive as initiative.
Profile Image for Alex.
1,419 reviews4,488 followers
March 21, 2019
You’re afraid it’ll be like if you organized your recipes by emotion. All color coding and modernism. You’re intimidated. It sounds hard. But people never mention how horny Doris Lessing is. "There’s something about a man with a whacking great erection," she says, "that it’s hard to resist." Woman is horny. Have you read Adore? Holy shit, it’s literally the plot of Motherlover by Lonely Island.

I mean it’s Anna Wulf says that about the erections, not Lessing. Same thing, but we’ll get to that. Anna also says that "every encounter with a person seems like crossing a mined field," and one of the many things that make Doris Lessing special is her ability to map each mine. She has the best social IQ since Tolstoy. She has this way of breaking down interactions between people, what they’re saying and why they’re saying it and the way a little tilt of the head can change their meaning entirely. She often caps it off by saying, simply, that two characters are liking or not liking each other, and I love how she points that out - all these subtle maneuvers, and at the end we either like each other or we don’t.

Anna Wulf is a novelist, and since we were all intimidated by the plot and the notebooks and what have you, here’s the spoiler-free plot structure. In the present day, a framing story called Free Women, Anna’s having an affair with a married man (Michael), raising her daughter, dealing with her best friend Molly’s ex-husband Richard, their daughter Tommy, and Richard’s new wife Marion. Anna can’t come up with another novel, but she keeps a diary split into four facets, and in her own words:

"A black notebook, which is to do with Anna Wolf the writer [and is largely set in the past in Africa, and is my favorite];
a red notebook, concerned with politics [and a little boring];
a yellow notebook, in which I make stories out of my experience;
and a blue notebook which tries to be a diary."

The secret of this book is that you don’t have to remember any of this. It doesn’t matter. That yellow notebook is the beginnings of a novel starring Ella, who’s a semiautobiographical stand-in for Anna, who’s a stand-in for Lessing, and you know what, you’ll get the idea. Lessing is doing the fragmented chronology of modernism; the color-coding is just for you, in case it helps you keep it all straight. She does it because she’s nice. "Why the four notebooks?" she is asked. "What would happen if you had one big book without all those divisions and brackets and special writing?" And Anna replies, "I’ve told you, chaos." lol, suck it Joyce.

probably about to color code something

We could wish some of those other modernists had given us some color coding, right? You know who could have used a decoder ring is James Joyce. What the fuck was he ever banging on about. Lessing casually responds to him at times. She parodies a few different styles for a while, pastiche-like, Joyce-like, at one point dog walking Henry Miller so hard I’m surprised she doesn’t clicker train him. It’s not just funny, it’s silly. Why doesn’t anyone mention that Doris Lessing is horny and funny?

But there’s that - that earthiness, too, that concern with the reality of the body. "James Joyce named defecation," Margaret Drabble says, "and Lessing names menstruation." There are pages and pages about menstruation. Doris Lessing is Judy Blume’s fairy godmother. This is of course controversial, because men are still in charge of some things and we absolutely cannot handle menstruation in any way, and The Golden Notebook was plenty controversial when it came out in 1963. As if periods aren’t gross enough, Lessing would like to talk about female orgasms, enthusiastically and at length. She has ideas about them, vaginal vs clitoral orgasms, and it’s all a bit Freudian and I don’t mean to tell anyone how to cum but I have the impression that some of these ideas are almost as outdated as her ideas about gay people, which are frankly offensive.

But look, I’m trying to position Doris Lessing as horny and funny like she’s some sort of modernist Sarah Silverman and I don’t mean to say that’s all she is. Lessing has a lot of ideas. She used to get irritated when people were obsessed with The Golden Notebook’s structure. Pay attention to the themes, she would say.

It’s about communism. Stalin has proven to be a nightmare and worldwide communists are descending into a morass of cliches and meetings. One can’t seriously talk about Stalin without betraying the party, nor can one seriously not talk about Stalin without betraying the ideal, and so communism is trapped and dying. The dream of communism has met the reality of Stalin and it can’t survive. (This was all maybe a bit overdone for the non-communists of the time, who’d realized what a monster Stalin was years ago.)

It’s about men and women, and there’s this whole segment of discussion of the book as "castrating." The men are often worthless, affair-starved, predatory, terrible in bed. I can only speak for myself, but I didn’t read it as misandrous. What Anna is so frank about is that she wants men very badly, and can’t find any. "Real men become fewer and fewer, and we are frightened, trying to create men." Which, I gather, is still a problem. But she likes them! She likes men, Lessing’s characters like being friends with them and having sex with them. "He knew nothing about her," says Ella of a man she’s just met, liking him: "he did not know, for instance, that her nipples were stinging." And here we are, horny and funny again.

It’s about how people live with each other, and in the end that’s still my favorite thing about Lessing, that navigation of the mined field. She notices so much, and she describes it so clearly. "Whenever I meet an American man," she says, "I wait for the moment when his face really lights up—it’s when he’s talking about the group of buddies." Or, there’s this little passage where she describes a horny teenage girl who’s totally incidental to the plot, "in that state so many young girls go through—a state of sexual obsession that can be like a sort of trance." She is "plain." The men don’t even notice that she’s in heat. All the women do, and quietly endeavor to protect her. Has anyone ever told that girl’s story before? Lessing just throws it out there casually, and moves on. She’s so perceptive and she’s so good at communicating what she sees - and all this while being so very horny and so very funny. It’s awe-inspiring, and it’s compelling, and you can’t help liking her.
Profile Image for Dolors.
541 reviews2,281 followers
May 6, 2013
“Art is the mirror of our betrayed ideals” page 385.

Still under the effects of the inebriating The Brothers K, I thought the best way to overcome a book hungover was to get drunk again. Reckless and foolish, I know.
My head still spinning around and my heart wrenched into a tight ball as I write these lines. “The Golden notebook” is not a kind book.
It has challenged my patience and tolerance with its apparent non direction. I have even despised Anna, the narrator of the story, thinking her naive, selfish and snobbish.
But being a woman who dwells in constant contradiction, I have irrevocably fallen under the spell of Lessing Anna’s radical voice. A woman, writer and mother who says the unsayable, thinks the unthinkable and puts it all down in her notebooks in all its raw emotional and intellectual chaos.
Four Notebooks pouring with self contempt, full of disillusionment, tolls for searching clues in her past in order to reconcile her unbearably miserable present.

The black recalls Anna’s youth in wartime Rhodesia, her initial involvement with the Communist Party and how her early experiences served as material for her later successful novel. Also a retrospective insight in which Anna can’t neither recognize herself nor her ingenuous expectations on women’s independence and liberation.

”What business has a novelist to cling to the memory of a smile or a look, knowing so well the complexities behind them?” page 115.

The red portrays her political doubts with shocking power and blistering honesty, threading radical exploration of communism together with Anna’s growing need for truth-seeking rather than political ideology.
I found her growing estrangement with The Party especially poignant when she starts feeling dubious about ends justifying means and the cynicism of some “comrades”.

”Yet why do I have a home at all? Because I wrote a book I am ashamed of, and it made a lot of money. Luck, luck, that’s all. And I hate all that – ‘my’ home, ‘my’ possessions, ‘my’ rights. And yet come to the point where I’m uncomfortable, I fall back on it like everyone else. Mine. Property. Possessions.” page 356

The yellow notebook was the one that struck me the most but at the same time also shined out with unexpected recognition. Anna’s futile effort to write as a third person, naming her creation Ella, in an attempt to distance herself from the inadequacy and constant failures of her relationships with men reminded me strongly of D.H. Lawrence’s reflections on sexuality, morality and motherhood.
Anna’s reaffirmed feelings of independence reacting against the vanity, egoism and insecurities of her usually married male partners contrast with her constant displays of traditional female behavior (expecting to stop being the mistress to become the wife). It all sounded so real and sincere to me that I felt Anna’s sufferings and sorrows as my own.

“I am unhappy because I have lost some kind of independence, some freedom; but my being ‘free’ has nothing to do with writing a novel; it has to do with my attitude towards a man, and that has been proved dishonest, because I am in pieces.” page 283.

Finally, the blue notebook appears as an accurate account of everyday life where intertwined switches of mood, rambling thoughts and semi-deranged descriptions of dreams become a crude testimony of existential doubts.

”But-isn’t there something wrong with the fact that my sleep is more satisfying, exciting, enjoyable than anything that happens to me awake?” page 217.

Defragmented pieces of unconsciousness create the most truthful and frightening image of a woman who questions the different versions of herself to find her long lost wholeness.
Doris Lessing addresses the conflicts between the maternal and erotic life, of the difficulties to conduct a career, or at least to try to, while raising a child, of the letdown that comes along with exploration of political ideologies, of the hardships of facing a mental breakdown, of the frustration of being a liberated woman but still be dependant on a masculine presence in her life. And she does it all looking at the reader straight in the eye, without blinking.
And don’t get me wrong, I don’t see Lessing as some sort of personal feminist hero, I don't think that's the point. But then, as now, being in my early thirties, this novel has guided me towards which questions to ask and which answers are better left unsought.
Everything. Life, love, death, the myriad beings buried deep inside me. Everything has become Golden clear. Because there has to be a crack in everything so that the light gets in.
The failures and inadequacies of my past.
The bleakness of my upcoming future.
The beauty and the futility of it all, so worth the effort.
Profile Image for Aubrey.
1,360 reviews793 followers
December 17, 2015
If before this book you wanted to be a writer, if after you finished it you still wanted to be a writer, then all the power to you.

What concerns us here is an English white heterosexual female, mother, author, communist. Upper-class, unmarried, unconsciously feminist. Neurotic, classist, homophobic, probably racist, there aren’t enough interactions with people of color to tell, but it seems likely considering the upbringing, the upbringing of the English society attuned to her personal attributes, her physical features, her financial stability, her sexuality mentality and race.

Do you have the story? Do you feel the pigeonholing begin? Do you sense your survival tactics classifying this contextual chorus as quickly as characterization consoles the contributors of compositions of caliber, of classics? Do you ease your way in expectations, do you settle your mind in the proper slots of when to be amused, when to be terrified, when to be aroused, when to be offended?

Because that’s what she does. She, Mrs. Anna Wulf, neé Anna Freeman (in actuality a ‘free’ woman, but let us save the carpings over lazy linguistics for another time), sees her world and feels the effects of that streamlined ideological training (you knew those words were coming, I love analyzing via this manner too much for a review to escape without them), and through some combination of fate and fortune can put them into words. The jargon of socialists versus the uninitiated working class (look at that discourse analysis class being put to work), the conflict between the expectations of men and those of women (look, I put men first, what does say about me), the pandering contempt of public society for the word ‘artist’ (oh you’re supposed to be tortured, however else would you come up with such delightful things for us, we couldn’t bear it if you wasted your talents, disappointed the rest of us who haven’t been blessed with such insight into the human condition).

She sees homosexuals as less than ‘real men’, she who cannot fathom the mixing of ‘male’ and ‘female’, cannot think outside the dichotomy of the gender lines of the English, no Kinsey scale formatting, confusing sexuality and mismatches between mind and body, just two words and the fearful gap . She talks of Africa as if it were something to be ‘saved’ by white people, we must let the Africans, those ‘poor things’, come to their true civilized calling but god forbid we accredit their myriad cultures or trust them as equals or look to them as experienced and authorized experts for a second, it is much better if we stick to our learning and reasoning and fall in circling patterns of thought that only work on paper. Children are a mystery, a mainframe of serialized progressions that cannot possibly successfully analyze the world and people around them, cannot possibly be capable of resignation with life, not when their parents need them to cope with their own. That would be monstrous.

She separates. Here is this book, this book composed without thought of composition, received with open arms by the popular opinion, full of lies and stereotypes and standards spiced with the slightest hint of chaos, the smallest fracture of ‘fighting the system’, that thrill, that excitement, feeding the average conformer their daily dose of moralizing self-righteousness, their carefully controlled observance of ‘the real world’. And now she is the ‘artist’, that tortured soul like so many others, who is not only unhappy but is supposed to be unhappy and learn how to be from those others (Joyce and Woolf and Kafka and Fitzgerald and Koestler and so many others who were truly unhappy), unhappy for the rest of us poor souls who cannot comprehend that talent, that quirk, and must rely on others who can, give us that side of madness that you have been blessed with that we who can cope so well with reality and its broken ideologies cannot ever have. And now she cannot write, because there are parts of her that fit within the system and parts of her that don’t, there are parts that she successfully absorbed in her progression of existence and parts that never quite deadened the natural rejection, parts that give her pleasure and parts that give her pain, pain of guilt that increases with every observation, every analysis, every laying out of personal problems alongside the horrors of the world and finding the former severely lacking, a diagnosis of ‘it could be worse; it shouldn't hurt’, a conjectured solution of wishing to be a man so as to be able to fuck, so as to be able to ignore the shamed agony and bleeding of the vagina and all its myriad biological woes, so as to be able to ignore all that masculine patronizing and pigeonholing, that oedipal complex compensation, so as to be able to not think with feelings and feel with thought as so many men appear to be capable of.

Nothing is certain but death and taxes, and so those with life and those with money have the recipe for happiness. That is what everyone strives for, that is the goal the world round, and those who are threatened in both categories don’t want to believe that eventual stabilization will not bring them peace. They don’t want to believe that after the attainment of both there exists the realm of the small ills, the tiny hurts, the malformations of identit(y/ies/?) in coping with ideas and the machines that drive it, the emptiness that sinks in after the distracting thoughts of fleeing a massacre and keeping a job and the adrenaline of panic fade away. The possibility that whatever brain chemistry has been equipped cannot deal with what reality demands of its conscripts, demands that do not include the slightest hint of empathy for illnesses of the neurons. Plenty of paranoia and fear and conscious ignorance, yes. Kindness or understanding, no.

Selfish. Self-ish. Angry-ish, sad-ish, complicated-ish. Not quite there. Not quite the sublime self, the inherent rights, the pure drive for living, that brave entity that copes with so much in the effort to exist. Selfish. Working for money is selfish; who are you to only put forth efforts that you are paid for, selling yourself in whatever form for a small pittance? Fighting for your rights is selfish; who are you to say that what you have is not good enough, who are you to judge that it is not equal to everyone else, you and your inherent bias and will subsumed by this ‘oppressed’ self? Running for your life is selfish; who are you to say that you do not want to die, when so many others have gone before you, in agonized desperation that you cannot even begin to imagine?

And my god now you want to write about it? Go ahead. Go ahead with your need for income, your need for validation, your need for life, your selfish whims, your unconscious prejudices, your broken self that you think is oh so painful but really, you’re hardly that ‘special snowflake’ that you coddle so, that overly analytical stereotypical mess that cries about one thing but is secretly bigoted about everything else it doesn’t have to deal with that can’t even exist like the rest of us normal people, who may not have your talents but can cope just fine with a 9 to 5 job two kids and a spouse yes sirree we do just fine with our drinking our abuse our categorical separations our unconscious hypocrisies our identities set on the straight and narrow that we cannot feel straining and breaking at the seams. We deal just fine with the emptiness of words created by a species for communication and nothing more, we don’t see an object and think of the history that led to its creation and all its ill-fitting complexities and contradictions, we don’t regard a person and register their ancestral lines of being oppressive and being oppressed. We don’t look at ourselves and clinically observe the prejudice that led from this day of education here, this dangerous misconception that was born from this experience there, that disillusionment with what we are complicit with by existing. So much of it that is violence and blood. So many cannibal identities trapping behind with the punctured equilibrium of our past. So many coping mechanism selves trotting forth in our unrealistic idealistic opportunistic future.

We can hide from those feelings. We can be cold. We can be in control and funnel ourselves through the necessary fault lines, the civilized dichotomies, the socioeconomic machine.

Tell us, why should we care if you write about what causes you pain, if it does not cause us pain? Tell us, why should we care if you write about what you cannot cope with and hate that you cannot cope, if we can cope? Tell us, why should we care if you write about how we hurt you, if we do not know why it should? Tell us, why should we care when you question the rules, if those are the rules that we play by? Tell us, why should we care when you want to break the rules, if the rules are what we cannot imagine living without? Tell us, writer with money and intellect and security grown in comfort subsisting on a small effort grown profitable by chance because of your birth and your ancestry that so many of us would happily trade you for, why should we care about your problems when they are not all the problems?

Tell us, writer, you egotistical masochist, you lazy worm, you overly sensitive prat that cannot bear for your works to be commercialized and conformed and can afford to do so without sacrificing your standard of living, you sycophantic preacher who only wishes for social justice in the areas you are hurt by, you witless freak who cannot live a ‘normal life’, you coward pandering at indecision, pandering at mental illness, pandering at suicide, pandering at life.

Tell us, writer, why should we care when you strip away the world and show us how ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and every word known and unknown are winding labyrinths of infinite complexity mating in an obscene frenzy within every thing, every person, every concept.

Tell us, writer, why should we care if you cannot deal with it like the rest of us.

Tell us.
Profile Image for Ruth.
Author 19 books59 followers
March 19, 2008
I created a new Goodreads shelf, "aborted," specifically for this book (& any future ones that I stop reading). Apparently it's an important novel & has been very influential, but I found it terribly tedious. 126 pages in, I found myself sinking into a foul mood: the characters are minutely analyzed but still feel remote, & the central conflict at that point (the beginnings of the collapse of hope & a sense of purpose among a group of Communist Party members), which would normally fascinate me, just annoyed me. And the book is huge & weighs down my commute bag.

So away with you, irritating tome!
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
December 30, 2014
"'In what way are you different? Are you saying there haven’t been artist-women before? There haven’t been women who were independent? There haven’t been women who insisted on sexual freedom! I tell you, there are a great line of women stretching out behind you into the past, and you have to seek them out and find them in yourself and become conscious of them.'
'They didn’t look at themselves as I do. They didn’t feel as I do. How could they? I don’t want to be told when I wake up, terrified by a dream of total annihilation, because of the H-bomb exploding, that people felt that way about the cross-bow. It isn’t true. There is something new in the world. And I don’t want to hear, when I’ve had encounter with some Mogul in the film industry, who wields the kind of power over men’s minds that no emperor ever did, and I come back feeling trampled on all over, that Lesbia felt like that after an encounter with her wine-merchant. And I don’t want to be told when I suddenly have a vision (though God knows it’s hard enough to come by) of a life that isn’t full of hatred and fear and envy and competition every minute of the night and the day that this is simply the old dream of the golden age brought up to date…I want to be able to separate in myself what is old and cyclic, the recurring history, the myth, from what is new, what I feel or think that might be new…' I saw the look on her face, and said: 'You are saying that nothing I feel or think is new?'"

Anna Wulf is a writer with one published work to her name. The book was fairly successful, enabling Anna to support herself and her young daughter with the profits from the royalties, as well as taking in boarders in her London house. Although she hasn't gotten anything else published, Anna keeps up her writing, keeping four different notebooks. In a black notebook, she writes about her time as a young woman in Africa when she first became involved with the Communist Party. A red notebook describes her later disillusionment with the movement in the 1950's. In a yellow notebook, she writes a novel that's basically a fictionalized version of an affair she once had. A blue notebook is for her personal diary. Additionally, several chapters are titled "Free Women" and are a third-person description of Anna's conversations with Molly, a friend from her Communist days.

This was a slog, and not just because it's essentially just 635 pages of people sitting around and talking. The structure reminded me of Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin, so that was an automatic strike against this book, because The Blind Assassin does the whole blending-fact-and-fiction schtick a hell of a lot better than The Golden Notebook does. It seemed like the more interesting notebooks got fewer pages than they deserved, while the less interesting parts took up too much space - I could have read an entire book just about Anna's experiences in Africa, but the stuff about her later disillusionment with Communism was kind of like reading a blow-by-blow description of paint drying.

But the biggest problem with this book was, I'll admit, mostly my fault. I went into this book knowing one thing: this is a Very Important Feminist Text, so I read it with that mindset. And you know what I found?

Dudes. Lots and lots of dudes. Seriously, for a "feminist book" - or, hell, just a book written by a woman and featuring a female protagonist - there is a hell of a lot of page time wasted on male characters. I say "wasted" because no one in this story is even remotely interesting, except for maybe Anna's friends from her Africa days. But like I said, they get kind of shafted by the narrative and instead we have to read pages and pages about Anna having a series of dismal affairs - Anna seems incapable of having a relationship that's satisfying in any way, and a mean part of my brain starting thinking, hey Anna, you know how they say that if everyone you meet is an asshole, that means you're the asshole? Maybe there's a reason everyone you date is bad at sex and emotionally unavailable.

Anyway, we hear A LOT about Anna's many, many, boring and terrible relationships, and the worst of them comes at the end of the book, when she starts having an affair with an American man named Saul Green. Saul Green is the living worst. Saul Green makes Fitzgerald Grant seem lovable. Saul Green is the opposite of Batman. But Anna loves Saul Green, for absolutely no fucking reason, and so we have to read chapter and chapters of Anna dating this terrible person and talking about how much she loves him, and I hated every moment I had to read about his character. The worst part? At the end, Anna buys the golden notebook featured in the title, and Saul, because he is The Worst, tells Anna that he wants the notebook for himself. Because he is The Worst. And Anna, unable to see that she's dating a spoiled two-year-old who somehow managed to pass for an adult man, just laughs, like, Oh Saul, you're so funny when you joke about denying my personal autonomy! But he's not joking, because guess what Saul does? He gets his hands on Anna's golden notebook and writes his own name on the inside cover. If my boyfriend wrote his name on a notebook that I specifically told him I was saving for something special, I would probably beat him with my own shoe. Anna's reaction?

"It made me laugh, so that I nearly went upstairs and gave it to him."

No. No no. No no no no noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

(I'm sorry, I completely lost my train of thought there. That's how much I hate Saul Green and every minute I wasted reading about him while Doris Lessing tried to convince me he was charming.)

Come to think of it, I'm not %100 sure this book even passes the Bechdel test. The "Free Women" scenes were my favorite, and the ones that came the closest, because they were all about Anna and Molly talking, but guess what they talk about? Molly's ex-husband, and her son. And then I realized that the "Free Women" sections were primarily concerned with the male characters' storylines, and then I had to lie down for a while until I stopped wanting to set this book on fire.

The one shining bright spot of this book: as you can tell from the excerpt at the top of this review, the writing is very good, and the characters are all solid. They're just boring and/or infuriating.

Profile Image for Cheryl.
464 reviews605 followers
June 6, 2016
It's about contradictions, I first told a friend as we discussed this book: The same person who orders a diet coke, has ice cream for dessert; someone orders fat-free salad dressing with a side order of french fries. Take Beyonce's new single Hold Up: supposedly this woman (who we'll pretend is not Beyonce) is known as the "baddest woman in the game" and yet she's "up in [this guy's] sheets" while he repeatedly cheats on her, but never mind that, she'll still hold him down, even while she's treated in "a wicked way." We laughed.

It's about juxtaposition, we agreed later, about how much of life exists as juxtaposition. Take this novel for example:

1. Strong-minded, opinionated feminist
juxtaposed with

woman in love with a man who treats her like a second-class citizen and slave.

2. The logical force that warns us of stupidity
juxtaposed with

the inner force that makes even the most clever, talented woman look idiotic.

3. Intellectually-refined
juxtaposed with


4. Free women
juxtaposed with

the enslaved.

The list goes on…need I mention former communists, a society that turns to socialism? The son of a feminist who doesn't respect women? The characterization of male characters that make you dislike them? Then again, you don't go on liking this main character or any of the female characters here. In fact, I'm not even sure we're meant to like these women, or focus on them, for this book is thematically and structurally designed to have one considering the weight of words, the change in people and societies. This is a psychological force and I'm not only referring to the breakdown at the end that is so jarring in its presentation, nor am I referring to the journal form that invites you into the mind of a woman who prefers to assume several different personalities. I am referring to the force that will overcome you as you read.

It's not surprising that Lessing loved reading Lawrence, for I saw pieces of Women in Love as I also saw fragments of Jean Rhys's Good Morning, Midnight. Yet in comparing the inner workings of characters, the rumination, this sort of displacement of mind in body in society, I really saw Ellison's Invisible Man. I was disappointed that unlike Martha in Lessing's Martha Quest, I didn't see a character who cared much about the less-privileged around her--society's outcasts she should have been allegedly fighting for. An explanation could be that she couldn't, because as her mind weakened, so did her body, for she seemed to survive on sex, to even become enslaved by it. I would like to think that her mental lapse is why she evicted her homosexual tenant; why she didn't care about the biracial child her white male friend abandoned in stark poverty; why she gave that asshole a chunk of her life.

Anna tries to say a lot that is buried beneath a bombardment of ideals, in a stylistically stupefying novel of four notebooks that slowly emerge into one golden notebook of singular artistry. So even though I wanted social reform badass, Martha, I'd like to think that maybe Anna couldn't be a Martha because of this thing, and
the people who have been there, in the place in themselves where words, patterns, order, dissolve, will know…once having been there, there's a terrible irony, a terrible shrug of the shoulders, and it's not a question of fighting it, or disowning it, or of right or wrong, but simply knowing it is there, always.

Maybe I'd like to think of life as juxtaposition and not merely contradictions; arguably, there's distinction between the two. Or maybe I'd just like to view it this way.
Profile Image for Rowena.
501 reviews2,516 followers
January 29, 2014
“I see I am falling into the self-punishing, cynical tone again. Yet how comforting this tone is, like a sort of poultice on a wound.”
— Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

This big book is well worth the effort. Having started my foray into Lessing’s work through her non-fiction, I was curious how her intellect would feature in her fiction writing. This definitely wasn’t a light read; the subject matter was pretty serious- life, feminism, politics, Africa and so on. The story revolves around Anna Wulf, single mother and best-selling author of one popular book, who is suffering from writer's block and is seeing a psychiatrist. The book follows Anna through her marriage, divorce, early years in Rhodesia, her countless love affairs, and her quest to find the right balance as a woman while being a mother, while recording various life events in a series of colour-coded notebooks.

Generally I liked the candidness of this book though I felt some aspects were too graphically described. I kept thinking all the way through the book about how impactful it must have been when it was first published over 60 years ago especially as it dwelt on the subject matters of feminism and female sexuality.

Because I live in a relatively emancipated age, the feminist parts didn't interest me as much as the political and historical content. The section on European life in colonial Southern Rhodesia was intriguing. Also, seeing how how communism was treated was interesting especially as I don't think communism has such a great stigma these days. Politics were definitely a large part of this book.

Did I like Anna? I found her slightly infuriating for the most part but at the same time as a woman I can definitely sympathize with her, issues that affect many women. Trying to find balance mostly.

The book was written in a fragmented style, which I quite liked because it kind of ties in with Anna and her fragmented persona:

“We’re driven by something to be as many different things or people as possible.”

I put off writing this review for so long because there was so much content and points for discussion in the book. This is the perfect book to discuss with others; too bad it’s too long for my bookclub.
April 15, 2019
«Το χρυσό σημειωματάριο» είναι ένα δυνατά διδακτικό μυθιστόρημα ιδεών με κεντρικό θέμα -το οποίο επισημαίνεται με σθεναρή ειρωνεία- και προυπόθεση, την ανάγκη να βλέπουμε τα πράγματα στο σύνολο τους, αποφεύγοντας την κατηγοριοποίηση της ζωής μας σε διαφορετικές πτυχές.

Είναι πραγματικά μια καταπληκτική οπτική, απροσδόκητη, ειλικρινής και προοδευτική σε σχέση με την εποχή του βιβλίου.

Έχοντας ως βάση αυτή την αρχή, η συγγραφέας με καταπληκτικό τρόπο μας αφηγείται την κατάρρευση του ανθρώπινου είδους μέσω της απενοχοποίησης.
Κάποιος άθλιος ρατσιστής ή κάποιος λειτουργός ολοκληρωτικού καθεστώτος διαπράττει γενοκτονίες και στη συνέχεια επιστρέφει σε πατρίδα και οικογένεια, για να ζήσει μια ανέμελη ξεχωριστή ζωή, μακριά απο τον τόπο του εγκλήματος, κρυμμένος στην ανωνυμία μιας θραυσμένης ζωής, απόλυτα ενδεδειγμένης κοινωνικά και επιλεκτικά εγκληματικής συνειδησιακά.

Υπάρχουν τα τέσσερα σημειωματάρια στα οποία η ηρωίδα του βιβλίου Άννα Βούλφ, μια μπλοκαρισμένη παραγωγικά συγγραφέας, μεταφέρει τα τραύματα και τις εμπειρίες της, χωρίζοντας τα σε χρώματα βάσει ονείρων, ελπίδων, προσμονών, απογοητεύσεων, νοσταλγικών περιόδων και αναμνηστικών ψευδαισθήσεων.

Στο κόκκινο σημειωματάριο γράφεται η πολιτική της εμπειρία και δράση, ως ένα απαξιωμένο και απογοητευμένο μέλος του Βρετανικού Κομμουνιστικού Κόμματος.
Στο κίτρινο σημειωματάριο γράφεται ένα συνονθύλευμα απο πραγματικότητα και φαντασία γεμάτο έρωτα, προσδοκίες και απατηλές ηδονές αγάπης.

Στο μαύρο σημειώματαριο έχουμε την μπλοκαρισμένη εργασιακή της απασχόληση ως μία πρώην επιτυχημένη συγγραφέας και στο μπλε σημειωματάριο την καθημερινότητα της.

Αυτά τα τμήματα ζωής, που καταγράφονται σε χρωματιστά αδιέξοδα φύλλα ψυχής, είναι τελείως διαφορετικά μεταξύ τους, μα καταφέρνουν ένα συμπαγές αποτελεσματικό ρεκόρ, σχετικά με τα στοιχεία στη ζωή της Άννας και των αλλαγών, που προωθούνται σε έναν χώρο όπου η ηρωίδα κάνει αμείλικτη ενδοσκόπηση με αριστουργηματικό τρόπο.

Μια γυναίκα που αγωνίζεται να κρατήσει την ψυχραιμία και την αρμονία της σε έναν ακαταμάχητο κόσμο που εξελίσσεται δραματικά και δεν επιτρέπει στα άτομα που βιώνουν τις αλλαγές του να καντανοήσουν τα μεταβατικά στάδια της αυτόσυνείδησης, που σώζεται απο τον εφιάλτη, λίγο πριν την κατάρρευση των ελπίδων, για όνειρα ουσίας και προσωπικής ευτυχίας.

Έπειτα υπάρχουν και τα τμήματα του βιβλίου με τίτλο «ελεύθερες γυναίκες» όπου βλέπουμε το παρόν να επηρεάζεται άρρηκτα απο το παρελθόν και να παραποιεί το αδήριτο μέλλον με καταστρεπτικές παραισθήσεις.

Πρόκειται για ένα σπουδαίο βιβλίο, διορατικό και επίμονα αληθινό. Γεμίζει με γοητεία αυταπάτης και ταύτιση πολλές σελίδες που αναφέρονται στις διαπροσωπικές σχέσεις των δυο φύλων.

Ως έγγραφο της δεκαετίας του ’60 όπου η φιλοσοφία, η πολιτική και το ιδεώδες της «ελεύθερης αγάπης» ήταν σε πλήρη ροή στο Λονδίνο, το βιβλίο γίνεται κυνικό και ανεκτίμητο όπως ακριβώς η υποκίνηση της κομμουνιστικής ζωης, των ξεπερασμένων πολεμικών απόψεων και των ψυχαναλυτικών παρεμβολών τόσο στην Ροδεσία, όσο και στην ίδια τη Βρετανία.

Εντάσσεται προφανώς στα κλασσικά έργα της λογοτεχνίας με κάθε τιμή και αξία.
Φθάνοντας στο χρυσό σημειωματάριο η σύγχρονη δυτική κοινωνία ενσωματώνεται με λαμπρή συγχώνευση αισθήσεων, τόπων, εικόνων, ατόμων και εντυπώσεων ώστε να καταρριφθεί η ανωνυμία και να αποκαλυφθεί η ανάγκη απαλλαγής απο κατηγορίες και διαφοροποιήσεις στο σύνολο της ατομικής ύπαρξης.

* Το περίμενα ως μυθιστόρημα πιο απλό, λιτό και απέριττο. Μαντέψτε.

Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Janet.
Author 24 books87.8k followers
November 20, 2021
I read the Golden Notebook at the height of the journaling movement of the 1970's, Ira Progroff and his intensive journal-writing workshops, consciousness-raising, his whole approach to the examined self, the examined life. The feminist project was in full bloom, as well. I was also deely in love with the The Diaries of Anais Nin, her minute examination of emotion and interactions with others, the exploration of self, probably the greatest single factor in my decision to become a writer. The Golden Notebook therefore came to me in three different ways, like a very special person whom not one but three friends from three different areas of your life each saying, "Man, you've got to meet her!"

It's the story of a woman who segregates her writings about various aspects of her life into four different colored notebooks--Black, Red, Yellow and Blue--compartmentalizing herself and her thoughts and expeeriences into strict partitioned selves--political, worldly, personal and creative-- beyond one even knowing about the others, or caring about the others. This splitting of the self, the fear of letting each part bleed into the other, is a fear of chaos, but is also the neurotic's hiding of aspects of the self, the inability to integrate different parts of the personality. When this segregation begins to tear apart at the seams, when the personality begins to fray, the Golden Notebook, the fifth, is born--the desire for integration into a unified self.

I adored this book, and look forward to rereading it. Hard to believe Doris Lessing wrote it in 1962, the Feminist Mystique era. The protagonist, Anna Wulf, for me had overtones of Freud (Anna Freud), but also the Steppenwolf, one of my favorite books of that time.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
October 3, 2010
I was discussing Flaubert the other day with notgettingenough, and remarked on how surprisingly different all his books are. Salammbô, as I say in my review, is completely different from Madame Bovary. La Tentation de Saint Antoine, which I'm currently reading, is completely different from both of them. But apart from Madame Bovary, firmly established as one of the most famous novels of all time, Flaubert's books are not widely read these days. You get the impression that people wish he'd done more naturalistic psychological studies and not, you know, experimented so damn much.

Not commented that Michael Frayn, one of her personal heroes, had the same problem. And I remembered an interview with Doris Lessing where she talked about her science-fiction phase. "People would have preferred me to carry on rewriting The Golden Notebook for ever," she said, "but I wanted to do something else."

Well, even though The Golden Notebook is a fine book, and I prefer it to Shikasta and its successors, I think she was absolutely right. She didn't say so in the interview, but a large chunk of the book is already more or less recycled out of A Ripple From The Storm - if she'd repeated herself again she'd have died of boredom, although it was obviously the safe choice. She's one of the most courageous authors I know, and I find her artistic integrity absolutely awe-inspiring.
Profile Image for Jennifer (formerly Eccentric Muse).
468 reviews998 followers
September 3, 2016
Lessing herself came to view The Golden Notebook as a failure, and I think she was right.

What she meant was that the innovation and experimentation she intended as the novel’s central point and raison d’être was misunderstood by readers with an infernally stubborn insistence on wanting to figure out its theme, meaning, intent, and relevance to their own lives.

Readers invested - and continue to invest - it with whatever agenda they bring to it in the first place, and interpret it conventionally. I’m sure Lessing would agree that, in so doing, many have missed her point entirely.

The problem for me is: what exactly IS the point?

She never intended it to be a feminist treatise, and yet, that’s what it has become (check out any of the 'feminist novels' listopias here on GR; it's always there). Why this book is claimed as a bastion of feminist thought completely eludes me.

A book that is this hateful to women simply cannot be a feminist treatise – and no amount of “Second Wave” excuse-making will make it so. If you see it this way, if you see yourself in it, well then...I am sorry for you. Read Charlotte Brontë. Read Virginia Woolf. Read Margaret Atwood. THESE authors will empower you. Lessing will not; she has no intention of doing so.

Self-pitying, self-hating codswallop is what it reads like to me. Its moral lessons – when they are not contradictory – are ambiguous to the point of insensible. Where the hell does she STAND, Lessing? This is always the trouble I have with her books and her characters; they are so morally confounding and inconsistent that you have to believe their author is setting them up as an example of something. Or writing satire.

Yet at the same time, she makes them “Everywoman” – as though they represent all of us; or there’s some twisted way of divining their essential goodness or rightness, and if you can’t understand it, well you’re no better than The Man, or The Society, or The System.

I can’t understand these characters’ psychologies. In her zeal for realism, Lessing saps them of any clear psychological truth (and ironically, has one of them engaged in interminable psychoanalysis. At least, I read that as irony). Without any otherwise useful or believable clues to motivation, I'm left to see the slow decline to madness as a direct and inevitable consequence of this woman’s - Everywoman's - attempt to claim her independence, personhood, right to exist as a healthy, happy, whole person.

This just makes me sad; sadder still when I think that women are internalizing this message in some way, even taking comfort from it.

Another thing that sticks in my craw with Lessing is that her characters are so passive. They seem to be victims of their circumstances and their fate, entirely without agency to change their situations - with Lessing sitting back and seeming to say: see, this is what happens when good people exist within a corrupt, inequitable, dehumanizing system. Isn't that just despicable. Aren't they or he (there's a lot of man-hating in this novel; another place we must agree to disagree, Lessing and I) just evil and we must band together, we women, and condemn them.

Condemn, but not take action. Taking action - actually trying to change anything - comes to no good end in Lessing. It turns to violence and hate; sometimes outwardly (as in The Good Terrorist), and here, inwardly. Whether internalized or externalized, activism - and specifically, individual activism - is a flawed response to a corrupt system; it's deeply dysfunctional and destructive.

It's almost as though Lessing is saying that taking action would feed right into the system you're trying to change, and therefore strengthen it. That one must be a martyr to the cause - because the cause is bigger than any individual, and individualism is, by definition, antithetical to the collective.

I think this book actually succeeds well at showing the two-steps-forward-one-step-back process of disaffiliating with a political system with which one comes to disagree, or a gender stereotype against which one rebels.

If this is the innovation she's trying to achieve - making a kind of fiction that better reflects messy, non-linear reality - then ok.

But Lessing's bleak nihilism ends up beyond frustrating to me. She doesn't provide any hope that there's a positive, constructive alternative to societal - or interpersonal - woes.

I guess I like my fiction more fictional. "What you mean is more conventional, easier," I imagine Lessing spitting condescendingly back at me.

Maybe so. But one more thing:

The nail in the coffin for The Golden Notebook, for me, is that it is structure above and in deliberate, intentional exclusion of considerations of plot or character.

In achieving her vision of a never-before-written fiction that expresses reality more realistically than the conventional novel had achieved, Lessing wedges her characters into a plot that is spread thin to the point of transparency over a framework that shows through at every turn.

Maybe it's not fair to evaluate against 50 years of post-modernism, but it reads about as sophisticated as a 14-year-old’s journal scribblings, and so contrived as to be laughable.

And perhaps it's forgiveable, at least understandable, that there is leakage across the red, blue, black and yellow diaries so the structure itself, as a way to achieve her literary goals, is muddy.

If that's the point - if what she's saying is that it's not so easy to compartmentalize different aspects of one's life and that doing so leads to complete fragmentation (as shown in the golden notebook, natch), then mon dieu! That was a pretty long way around to that point.

Their 180-degree political differences aside, what this reminded me of was Ayn Rand with a little more literary polish. At least with Rand, you know what drum she’s banging and can dismiss her (or, if you’re so inclined, accept her) on that basis, and for those of us who find her politics and worldview disgusting, then on the basis of just plain bad writing.

The renowned, redoubtable, Nobel-prizewinning Lessing, on the other hand, is not as easily dismissed. Case in point, my ability to get deeply immersed in a review of a book I didn't enjoy and that I read more than four months ago.

For that - and a couple of other bits that I won't go into right now - two stars.
Profile Image for Drew.
238 reviews121 followers
July 10, 2013
Like every really, really good book I read, this one left me somewhat at a loss for words. Nonetheless, I'll try to do it some justice if I can.

I hesitated to read this book for a long time because of the description it always gets: Anna, a writer, keeps four different notebooks, one about her experiences in Africa, one about the Communist Party, one of autobiographical fiction, and one that's a diary. At the end of her psychic chain and in love with an American writer, she decides to combine them all into one golden notebook.* And so on. This to me sounded, well, really boring. Not going to sugar-coat it. Luckily, it wasn't at all; this is a fat book, no doubt, but it does grab you right from the beginning, and I'll say that I finished the last 350 pages in a single feverish day. This quote from the back also helped:

"What's terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is the first-rate. To pretend that you don't need love when you do; or you like your work when you know you're quite capable of better."

Not because it demonstrates top-notch prose (Lessing's prose verges more toward the unassuming than toward the pyrotechnic, though it's still tight, disciplined, and a pleasure to read) but because the sentiment is one that I agree with.

As that quote should demonstrate, The Golden Notebook isn't about notebooks, or feminism, or communism, or any other ism, despite what people will tell you. Lessing herself, in her introduction, both marveled at the fact that people made such diverse claims about what the book was "about," and railed against the fact that almost nobody seemed to see the whole picture the way she did.

So what IS it about? Were I pressed, I would say it's about how to cope with all the first-world problems that go along with being conscious of third-world problems. Anna, the central character, is both a Communist and a feminist (though the latter word doesn't get bandied about--this book may have been from before the term was popular), meaning she's concerned with inequality. She's spent some time in Africa, observing the abject failure of the communist dream. She's spent some time volunteering for the Communist Party in England, watching them feebly try to defend Stalin's actions in the late '40s and early '50s. And she's spent her whole life in and out of ill-fated romances with men who seem normal but are monsters, or men who seem normal but are shadows of their former selves, or men who seem perfect but inexplicably leave her. So in short, Anna spends her life fighting personal battles against chauvinism and impersonal battles against global inequality, and both sets of battles, so far as we see in the book, are futile.

Anna's endless meditation on this futility is one thing I found particularly helpful and illuminating--specifically the conclusion that the futility of a given project in no way constitutes a reason not to attempt it. E.g. everyone in the US knows his or her vote doesn't count; lots of people use that idea as a reason not to vote, and I imagine Anna has nothing but contempt for them. Some people vote anyway, and this is the right choice, but the justification is complex, and to try to express it here would be to oversimplify--just read the book!

One other thing that left a big impression on me was that The Golden Notebook is deeply concerned, even on a structural level, with how women think and perceive, and how that differs from the way men think and perceive. You would think that you could understand something of this just by reading books by female authors, but I suspect that many female authors try to write from a more universal perspective, in order to capture a more universal audience.

Lessing, as an author of integrity above all (see the above quote if you don't believe me), is never tempted to do such a thing, and the results are fascinating. In her book, Anna and Molly converse in such a way that the meaning of the words they say is not even close to the whole of the communication. Facial expressions (and I'm not talking about something as facile as smiling v. frowning, I'm talking about minuscule variations--a real smile, a fake smile, a twitch, a quick eye movement, etc.), tone and timbre of voice, body language, spatial positioning, and other less tangible factors are equally important, or maybe even more important than content. Anna in particular is so perceptive when it comes to these nuances that it can seem like telepathy--she often knows what a given character is going to say or do before it happens--and it's completely believable. Here's an extended example that includes everything I've mentioned so far. Anna is talking with her Communist friend Molly's son about his businessman father (Molly and the father are divorced):

He said unexpectedly: "You know, he's not stupid at all."
[Anna:]"I don't think we've said that he is."
Tommy smiled patiently, saying: You're dishonest. He said aloud: "When I said I didn't want those jobs he asked why, and I told him, and he said, I reacted like that because of the influence of the communist party."
Anna laughed: I told you so; and said: "He means your mother and me."
Tommy waited for her to have finished saying what he had expected her to say, and said: "There you are. That's not what he meant. No wonder you all think each other stupid; you expect each other to be. When I see my father and my mother together, I don't recognise them, they're so stupid. And you too, when you are with Richard."
"Well what did he mean, then?"
"He said that what I replied to his offers summed up the real influence of the communist parties on the West. He said that anyone who has been, or is, in the C.P., or who has had anything to do with it is a megalomaniac. He said that if he was Chief of Police trying to root out communists somewhere, he'd ask one question: Would you go to an undeveloped country and run a country clinic for fifty people? All the Reds would answer: 'No, because what's the point of improving the health of fifty people when the basic organisation of society is unchanged.' He leaned forward, confronting her, and insisted: "Well, Anna?" She smiled and nodded: All right; but it was not enough. She said: "No, that's not stupid at all."
He leaned back, relieved. But having rescued his father, so to speak, from Molly's and Anna's scorn, he now paid them their due: "But I said to him, that test wouldn't rule you or my mother out, because both of you would go to that clinic, wouldn't you?" It was important to him that she should say yes; but Anna insisted on honesty, for her own sake. "Yes, I would, but he's right. That's exactly how I'd feel."

Obviously, this little passage touches on the futility-theme, although only on the surface compared to where the rest of the book goes. What's more interesting is that you can tell even from this small example that the way dialogue is handled in The Golden Notebook is quite unusual, and has to be, because it's not just covering quoted conversation, it's covering all the other variables I mentioned above. Anna interprets "You're dishonest" from nothing more than a patient smile; she sees confrontation in a lean; and the sum of all the nonverbal information he's given her over the course of the conversation makes her sure of the correct answer to his final question. And she's always right. Not only that, but every movement she makes comes attached to a meaning: for her, a laugh can and does mean specifically 'I told you so'; a smile can indicate concession, although she notes it's 'not enough.' Every word she can't say because it would be too painful (whether to her or her interlocutor) aloud, she consigns to a subtle gesture or expression or movement--the meaning still gets communicated, although the recipient may or may not notice.

This noticing is important too, and Anna's thoughts about it get close to the root of why women seem so inscrutable to men, and vice versa. Some men in The Golden Notebook are perceptive enough to have a conversation on the same plane as Anna; Tommy, above, is one of them. Most of them, including Richard, are not. Anna constantly marvels at the fact that most men treat the text of what they say as the most important, or even only, aspect of the communication, and the fact that this preference causes all sorts of grave miscommunication between men and women. Possibly this is all obvious; certainly it must be obvious to anyone who's studied this sort of thing. But it's still illuminating to see it play out over the course of the novel, and though I'm familiar with the concept too, I don't feel like I'm the more perceptive type--I constantly struggle to interpret shrugs, leans, smiles, etc. So the book has all sorts of interesting case studies for me.

If none of this sounds remotely interesting to you, then you may not like the book. But if that's not the case, give it a try; Lessing is the real deal.

*It seemed particularly lame to me that she would make a 'golden' notebook if she'd already had a yellow one, but I imagine this very specific qualm stems from a climbing incident in which I was attempting to belay my partner on two ropes simultaneously,** and it was key for each rope to have a name, so that I could give slack with one while taking it in with the other, and though one rope was mostly orange and the other one mostly blue--I kid you not--my partner insisted on referring to them as 'yellow' and 'gold.'

**This technique is for minimizing the likelihood that a crucial rope will be severed by a falling rock, if you're curious.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,491 reviews2,726 followers
March 24, 2021
'... although no one will ever believe it, I was completely unconscious of writing a feminist book. I was simply writing about what I saw.'

This is an extraordinarily ambitious novel from Lessing which is formally creative as well as dealing with controversial themes and politics. And her open writing about sex, desire, affairs and disappointments must have been shocking at the time of publication. But that's one of the things I love about Lessing: her boldness, her uncompromising attitude, her ferocious political intelligence, her refusal to be ruled by what is or isn't 'proper', not least for a female writer.

I've seen this book described as old-fashioned, and of its time (though what book isn't 'of its time'? What other time can it be of?). But aren't we still struggling, if we're brutally honest, with issues - both political and personal - of how to live fulfilled lives? Aren't we still striving to find ways to bring about social justice? Issues of class, political creed, race and gender far from fading have renewed urgency for us, if in slightly different overt forms from those in which Lessing conceived and treated them.

Lessing's detailed political debates may be deeply embedded in 1950s communism as 'believers' faced the disillusionment of Stalin and the heating up of the Cold War but this novel told me more about living through these issues than many a history book.

The prose may be a bit rough around the edges and no-one would call Lessing an elegant writer but this feels like a book written in a ferment of passion and intellectual excitement. The form of fragmented narratives - novels, the individual notebooks, collages of newspaper clippings - embody themes of disintegration and unification and must have been especially innovative at the time of writing.

The words that reverberate throughout the text are 'liberation' and 'free' - but these concepts are never treated in any kind of simplistic sense, and have a particularly gendered resonance within the book. This is my second reading (this time I listened to the audiobook brilliantly read by Juliet Stevenson) and it still remains a rich text with more to offer.
Profile Image for Sidharth Vardhan.
Author 23 books699 followers
May 3, 2017
(The spoilers are no spoiler. They just go into some of my intellectual queries which have little to do with book.)

Another of those books that would have been better if it was shorter. The book has several divisions and each division has a section of a short novella 'Free Women' (by omniscient narrator) and sections of diaries Anna, the protagonist, keeps.

Now, as a matter of principle I do not ... don't laugh, I'm perfectly capable of having principles, so, I was saying As a matter of principle, I do not read anyone's personal diaries. If you know me, you can guess that it has nothing to do with respect of privacy or anything, just that people are often more judgmental and critical in their personal diaries.

Not so free women

That is problem with Anna. Either she is surrounded by lousy people all around or she is lying when she says she doesn't easily dislike a person. In fact, she can be highly useful friend for women - she is like this litmus paper which turns red on seeing every guy that is going to be bad relationship. If she finds a guy charming, you can be sure he is either a bully or suffers from some neurological disorder, the degree of which is can be ascertained by how quickly she sleeps with him - her normal average being three pages and two nights. I have no problem with her sexual life, but I have a problem with over-analysis and complaints that follows in next few pages when relationship has fallen apart. Reading those diaries like being a platonic friend of a woman who just had a breakup. And you do not need to overanalyse the thing, since most of the men are married. Think of it, a married guy wants to sleep with her the first time they meet feeling no guilt for his wife - what are chances he is going to respect a woman who is prepared to sleep with him first time she met him, herself feeling no guilt towards his wife.

And this Anna is supposed to be a modern 'free woman'. She decides she will live independent of man. So does her sister. The two women are 'free women' giving the title to a short novella contained within the book. A joke really, since while Anna lets herself being controlled by men in her life, her sister believes she is being controlled by .... her own 20year old son who has just lost his eye-sight. I mean get some perspective - the boy lost his eyesight at twenty! And he is sitting in his room making no demands. Where is control in that?

I actually started getting the feeling that the two women actually are looking for bullies. The sister sleeps again with a man who singing abuses to her just after last time they did - because she can't helping pitying the puppy face the menake when theywho come asking for sex. Why I don't I find women like that? Anna darling actually finds all normal guys she comes across boring. And it is not just heterosexual men, but then according to her homosexual men are not proper men. And will badly influence her daughter. But then to be fair, she doesn't entertain verry high opinions of homosexual women either - she won't join her sister not-so-kind mankind because it is being lesbian in mind if not body.

Lessing said the book is not about sex war - maybe, although the part about Anna's life in South Africa seems to be an orgy in which, according to her own words, a group of twenty youngsters is busy sleeping with each other.

But what the hell is all that about? That woman need someone to live for, while men can live freely and this lets men control them? Because Anna is either needing to care for her daughter or have a man in her life. In fact, Anna's sister seem to think that all the individualism their generation has gained is meaningless and the next generation should have married in twenties.

On balance, Anna does make some telling observations - comparatively very few from experience (though she herself refuses to learn from them).

So much about women liberation.


Now diaries - there are four to begin with, each with a cover of different color. The Black notebook, is about her experience as author. A bit of good writing here about artist struggling against commercialisation of his work. For most part, Anna dwells on her African experience, which was source of her book. Her African experience makes a fine satire of joke communist revolution was in Africa, some semi-rich white people led by a couple of bullies busy having good time.

In red one she records her political life, her disillusionment with communism - she meets lots of people (obviously sleeps with some)- but this is still best part of novel. She draws her fears about McCarthyism which, if you ask me, is a perfect example of people wanting to punish thought crime. She is disillusioned as she slowly comes to understand that like any mass organization, communist party depeneds on a system of illusions developed by resisting vocabulary and forcing the language of all discussion into a few words and slogans. The anti-intellectual nature of communism must have affected Anna's self-image - which might be part of reason behind her failed relationships. There are some other brilliant observations made by Anna, who is strangely so clever when it comes to observing politics. These two diaries are best part of the book.

In a yellow one she writes a novel in which the heroine tries to fictionalize part of her own experience (a failed relationship of course). In the blue one she keeps a personal diary - meetings with her therapists etc.I have no idea what the Golden Notebook which she undertook to write in an effort to unite other four was about.
Profile Image for Pink.
537 reviews502 followers
November 16, 2017
I have to give this five huge stars. Even though I had problems with the last few chapters, this was never a chore to get through. I looked forward to reading it each day and enjoyed each of the notebooks, as different as they were. This is a feminist novel in as much as it's about female characters and their sexual relationships, but it's more of a look at mental breakdown, in a post war, communist party era. Masterful writing, as expected from Lessing and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Edan.
Author 9 books33.1k followers
October 11, 2007
I just found out Doris Lessing won the Nobel, and now I feel compelled to explain my one star review of her most famous book.

My gal pals and I read this over the course of a humid Iowa City summer, as part of a short lived and ill-conceived book club. We met once a week in a different apartment (though I can only imagine us at Kiki's place), to drink champagne and discuss the novel. Complain is really what we did--and then I went home with a champagne headache.

None of us liked this novel, and I believe only a couple of us finished it. The Golden Notebook moves at a glacial pace, and it's probably the only book that has ever truly depressed me. Usually I like depressing books! This one just made me feel sick for humanity and myself, and for this terrible sad narrator writing these notebooks. The only good part to talk about, of course, was the orgasm section: is it true that the man who really loves you can give you both a clitoral AND a vaginal orgasm? Kiki told us her mom's opinion, and we all leaned in, attentive. But really, this too is an outdated discussion--if my memory serves me correctly (and it doesn't always), in the book, her lover refuses to believe that the clitoral orgasm is a real orgasm, and only wants to give her the other kind. I think nowadays men and women are more accepting of all orgasms. Yea for the world and the progress we've made!

In the end, this book was a disappointment. My gal pals and I had more fun at the Iowa City Public Pool, which also was not fun.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
March 3, 2010
This most is the influential and most talked-about 1962 novel of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature recipient, Doris Lessing. She was the 11th female who received the prize and the oldest (91 y/o) person ever to have won it.

Reading this 634-page dense novel was not a easy thing for me. There were times that I wanted to put it down and create a new shelf "Started But Not Finished" or probably "To Be Continued Someday." However, I have a promise to myself to finish all the books I started. So I kept on reading. I made the right decision! I had an amazing time especially in the last 50 pages of the novel.

The format is a feat that is novel in itself: the main story inside the story is entitled Free Women and it is divided into several parts. Then each part is further divided into one of the 4 "notebooks" that the main protagonist, Anna Wulf, writes or has written: black (about her life in Africa), red (about her life as a communist in Britain), yellow (her scrapbook as a novelist) and blue (her diary). She even creates an alter-ego make-believe character, Ella present in the black notebook. Then there is the golden notebook which presents the theme "Breakdown." That notebook serves to be the synopsis of the 4 wherein the two main characters, Anna and her American lover Saul both wrote its entries as they share their love without hindrances and pretensions that explains the theme: breaking down the walls.

So, what is the story all about? Just like most appreciated novels, it depends on how you look at it. I agree with what Ms. Lessing wrote in her 1971 Introduction:
... that the book is alive and potent and fructifying and able to promote thought and discussion only when it is plan and shape and intention is not understood, because the moment of seeing the shape and plan and intention is also the moment when there isn't anything more to be got out of it.

And when a book's pattern and the shape of its inner life is as plain to the reader as it is to the author - then perhaps it is time to throw the book aside...
For me it is about: sex war, communism in Europe in the 50's and mental illness. In the first, it is said to have influenced the Women's Liberation during the post WWII era. In the second, I had a heyday learning about the spread of Communism in Europe in the 50's. Here is where I knew that there was a C.P. (communist party) in Great Britain during to years (or maybe up to now). Although communism is becoming thing of a past or shall I say, it is changing its face, it is nice to know what happened during those years. In the third, the novel can just be seen as populated by insane characters. The insanity here is not the mental institution type. It is about passion to survive, to be happy and to continuously hope despite the odds.

One nice short quote for those who still have valentine hangover: "Love's the same the world over."

I will always remember this book. This is my constant companion as a search for cure for my two completely torn ligaments due to the badminton accident that happened to me in the evening of February 23, 2010. As I lay in the surgeon's operating table tomorrow, I will keep in mind the beauty of this book - especially on insanity.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,780 reviews1,458 followers
December 2, 2018
I have considered reading this book for years. In 2007 Doris Lessing received the Nobel Prize for Literature for this book, forty-five years after publication! It was a book ahead of its time. The telling switches between different threads, stories and notebooks and also back and forth in time; I thought this would be confusing. It proved not to be! My hesitation was unfounded. The book demonstrates that a talented author can do that which for others would be impossible! I was not confused and I actually enjoyed how the stories intermix and blend!

The reader is in the head of the central protagonist, Anna Wulf. She is a writer, born in the 1920s and is English. She has published a bestseller, Frontiers of War, a novel inspired by her life in Southern Rhodesia before and during the Second World War. Now she is living off the book’s royalties, does social work, is a single mother raising her child alone, is active in the English Communist Party and writes. She sorts her writing into colored notebooks. Political writing is in her red notebook. The black notebook tells of her years in Africa. The yellow has her fictional writing. In her blue notebook she records diary entries, jots down dreams, personal thoughts and feelings and fastens newspaper clippings. In her writing Free Woman, she tells of her friend Molly Jacobs, of her and her friend’s children, husbands and lovers, all of which is purportedly, allegedly, ostensibly true.

Tell me, is it strange that an author blends fact with fiction? Isn’t it reasonable that events in an author’s life constitute the basis for their fiction? Is it possible to accurately and precisely categorize life events into neat little piles? Fact and fiction, the false and the true, the political and the personal blend. Doesn’t the past bleed into the present? There must be fuzzy borders and overlap and so there is in Anna’s writings too. Can life, should life be compartmentalized in this way? In Anna’s Golden Notebook all is to be put back together. Fragmentation and compartmentalization are important themes of the novel. We switch between entries in all these different books. We observe how fact is shaped into fiction, how one is molded into the other and how a given event may be viewed from different angles, the result being that characters gain substance, become deeper, alive and real.

By the book’s end you know Anna in and out, her thoughts, her emotions, her queries and her fears. Her sex drive and her inhibitions. How she feels toward homosexuality, racial integration, her daughter’s growth from childhood to adolescence. We observe Anna’s relationship with her close friends, rivals, lovers and ex-husband. We observe from a woman’s point of view. I easily related to her thoughts, emotions and fears. While I may not have always completely agreed, she did keep me alternately laughing and thinking. This is why I loved the book as much as I did. I liked Anna very much too.

Anna comes to a nervous breakdown. Here one considers the imperceptible border between sanity and insanity. Who really is sane and who is not? Society’s standards set the divide, but are these necessarily the best? Given the way the world is, how does one expect a sane person to behave?

I very much enjoyed reading about the Communist Party in England during the forties and fifties. The dissention and the disillusionment within the party is not something I have read about before. The discussion is much more nuanced than the one-sidedness of the views aired during the American McCarthy period.

The book critically assesses the period of which Doris Lessing writes, the book was published in 1962, but there is lots of humor too. I like this mix of serious and fun. The book speaks out against war, colonialism and Stalin. It draws a liberating view of women’s sex lives and acknowledges how we differ from men. The humor—I dare you to not laugh when you read the section where Anna refuses the filming of Frontiers of War. She is not persuaded even by large financial gain.

Line after line the book kept my attention. It made me laugh and it made me think. In flipping between the different books, we see from different angles, we see different points of view and we come to understand the situations that arise more thoroughly. Furthermore, the author does this with such skill that one does not become confused. This in itself is amazing. It is for these reasons I have been tempted to give the book five stars, but I settled on four. Why? The book could have been tightened, at least a teeny bit. There are times when what has been said wonderfully is drawn again but not as well, and the point made is the same.

Juliet Stevenson narrates the audiobook. Her performance is stupendous. Women, men and children, the brash, the headstrong, the fearsome and the confused –-each and every character and situation is perfectly intoned. The difference in how Americans and English speak will make you smile. The narration by Juliet Stevenson must be given five stars.

I love this book and recommend it to others. It is not at all as confusing as one would think it to be.


The Grass is Singing 3 stars
Profile Image for Ahmed.
910 reviews7,449 followers
November 11, 2015

دوريس ليسنج من أحب الأق��ام الإنجليزية لقلبي على الاطلاق , كاتبة ممتازة بمعنى الكلمة , متمكنة من ادوات أدبها ومسيطرة عليها , كاتبة قادرة على أن تضعك في عالمها وتدمجك به , لتجعلك تتأثر بالأحداث والشخصيات . والأهم من كل ذلك أنها كاتبة مخلصة لقضيتها ولأدبها . ونادرًا ما تجد لها عمل دون المستوى , فكل أعمالها متشبعة بروح إيمانها فأتت اعمال برّاقة .

أنا قرأت لها العديد من الأعمال (والفضل في ذلك لسلسلة الجوائز) , وكل عمل لا يشبه الآخر على الاطلاق , كل عمل مستقل بذاته , ولكنه يدور في فلك واحد , فلك اختارته الكاتبة وانتهجته ببراعة شديدة .

المهم : نحن هنا أمام رواية شديدة التميز , رواية نسوية من الطراز الرفيع , ليس فقط لأن الكاتبة أنثى , لا, ولكنه يدور في فلك الأنثى الجميل , ويالها من دنيا سعيدة نعيشها في ذلك الفلك الممتع .

آنا و مولي : سيدتين , لهما من التجارب ما لهما , آنا كاتبة مبدعة , ومولي سيدة مرّت بتجربة زواج مريرة , فخرجت منها بابن يحاول إيجاد ذاته , وكل ذلك بمساعدة الكاتبة صديقة أمه .

آنا : تلك الشخصية الساحرة (والتي تشبه حياتها حياة ليسنج الحقيقية ) إلى حد بعيد , فمرّت بعديد التجارب والمراحل والمحن , فهي تارة تحكي عن حياتها في إفريقيا السوداء , وتارة تحكي يومياتها العادية , وتارة أخرى تسبك رواية من بنات أفكارها , وتارة تحكي تجربتها الشيوعية ومراحل تطورها .

إنجلترا : وخمسينات ذلك البلد المبهر , فلطالما مثلت لي إنجلترا نموذج يحتذى به , ولطالما كانت بالنسبة لي البلد الحلم , تبدأ الكاتبة روايتها من جلسة صداقة بين (آنا ومولي) تتناقشان فيها مراحل حياتهما المختلفة وتجاربهما , ومدى المشاكل التي وقعا فيها واضطرتهم إلى اللجوء لطبيب نفسي .

الرواية ممتازة , وممتازة للغاية , فيها العرض الحي لقضايا نسوية تخص المجتمع الإنجليزي , وفيه عرض ممتاز لمشاعر إنسانية خالصة , تمثل حالة إمتاع للقارئ ومعرفة واسعة .

شخصيات الرواية شديدة الخصوصية , فلا توجد شخصية هامشية , كل الشخصيات تصنع الحدث وتشارك فيه , شخصيات مرسومة بحنكة شديدة , رسم كامل لجميع النواحي , فتشعر بها حيّة بين صفحات الكتاب .
الأحداث متراتبطة محبوكة , مسكوكة داخل الإطار الروائي , فلا تجد حدث إلا ويمثل إضافة (حتى لو كان الحدث عبارة عن شراء مولي لفروالة من بائع جائل )
الترجمة كانت محترفة وجيدة للغاية تدل على عظمة النص الأصلي .

في المجمل : رواية ممتازة وممتعة ومفيدة للغاية , مُقدمة بقلم روائية متقنة شديدة المهارة .
Profile Image for Huy.
773 reviews
April 25, 2016
Cuốn sách ngốn trọn hơn nửa tháng của mình để đọc xong. Mặc dù sách rất dày, khổ to, cầm mỏi hết cả tay nhưng mà mình đọc khá là nhẩn nha, không hề gấp gáp gì hết.
Có thể nói Doris Lessing rất tham vọng khi viết nên một cuốn sách đồ sộ, có cấu trúc khá là phức tạp (nhưng lại không hề khó đọc) nói về rất nhiều vấn đề.
Đặt lại bối cảnh lịch sử của cuốn sách, khi xã hội thời đó là một mớ hỗn độn, kinh tế lại chưa vực dậy sau chiến tranh thì có thể nói chủ nghĩa xã hội trở thành câu trả lời cho mọi vấn đề, nên các nhân vật trẻ tuổi ai cũng ùn ùn gia nhập Đảng Cộng Sản. Và Doris Lessing cũng là một trong số đó. Có lần, bà đã giải thích : Vào đầu những năm 1950, ảnh hưởng của đảng Cộng sản đối với tầng lớp trí thức Châu Âu rất lớn, và bà đã bị chủ nghĩa ấy thu phục. Nhưng Lessing là một phụ nữ tự do và độc lập, khi nhìn thấy mặt trái của lý tưởng Cộng sản thì bà đã không một phút do dự để rút lui.
Thôi, không bàn về chính trị nữa, thật ra như Lessing có nói trong lời mở đầu, mỗi người khi đọc cuốn sách của bà sẽ có những cảm giác và chú ý tới những câu chuyện khác nhau, mình thì vẫn cảm thấy lùng bùng bới cái cảm giác đáng sợ khi mà cuộc đời trở nên hỗn loạn, không thể nào kiểm soát được.
Thôi viết nhiêu đây, khi nào rảnh viết thêm :)). Với lại viết dài quá ai thèm đọc :3
À, sách có nhiều câu rất hay nhé, Lessing có nhiều lúc hơi cay cú một chút nhưng mà cũng hài hước và thông thái hết chỗ chê (mà lười đánh lại quá nên thôi vậy).
Profile Image for Jacob Appel.
Author 37 books1,588 followers
July 3, 2016
Truly one of the greatest novels of the modern era -- ranking alongside The French Lieutenant's Woman among the defining works of British post-modernism -- Lessing's The Golden Notebook is as remarkable today as it must have been when it appeared half a century ago. Rather than a novel within a novel, one has a novel within a series of notebooks, each diary containing a particular segment of Anna Wulf's life. Yet to read this novel for the intricate plotting or the interplay of novel and notebooks is to miss the forest for the trees. Rather, this is one of those grand epics that covers the development of post-war England, and the modern west, embracing the political and social forces that bridged the first two decades after 1945. Only, unlike with other social-evolution epics (the The Forsyte Saga, for instance), the epic nature of this masterpiece is carefully hidden and seductive. Needless to say, Lessing (like Fowles) is an investment of time and emotional energy, but a highly rewarding one.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,096 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.