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Walking in the Shade: Volume Two of My Autobiography--1949-1962
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Walking in the Shade: Volume Two of My Autobiography--1949-1962

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  359 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The second volume of Doris Lessing's extraordinary autobiography covers the years 1949-62, from her arrival in war-weary London with her son, Peter, and the manuscript for her first novel, The Grass is Singing, under her arm to the publication of her most famous work of fiction, The Golden Notebook. She describes how communism dominated the intellectual life of the 1950s a ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 23rd 1998 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1997)
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Canadian Reader
Rating: 3.5

Compared to the first volume of her autobiography, this second one, which concerns Lessing’s first 13 years in London (after leaving Southern Rhodesia), is rambling and long-winded. The book’s main focus is the writer’s time in the Communist Party. She describes her activities, acquaintances, delusions, rationalization, and eventual “awakening” as to what was actually going on in the Soviet Union. In a nutshell: Hitler had nothing on Stalin. Lessing’s experiences as a communist left h
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nobel
What a wonderful sharp mind Doring Lessing had!
H.A. Leuschel
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating read from a fascinating writer who not only lived to be 94 but seemed to have lived each of her years with passion and an open-minded spirit, a sense of deep self-questioning and also an attempt to never give up. This is the second of Lessing's autobiographies that begins in 1949 on her arrival from Africa, taking the reader through the different stages of her struggles to make a living in post-war London and then carve her path towards international recognition as an auth ...more
Oct 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Totally absorbing. What a fascinating, intelligent and honest person she was. I feel envious of her friends.

I can see a lot of reading of other books by Doris Lessing in the not too distant future.
Oct 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Reading this second volume assuredly requires your stamina, familiarity and sense of humor since its scope/plot is a bit different from its predecessor in which it's divided into normal numerical chapters while this one divided into four main road/street themes, each with its seemingly never-ending length of narrations, dialogs, episodes, etc. it's a pity there's no contents section in this book so the following tentative contents may help you see what I mean:

Denbigh Road W11 (pp. 1-16)
Church St
Apr 17, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Man merkt dem zweiten Teil von Lessings Autobiografie leider an, dass hier in einem ebenso dicken Band wie dem ersten statt 30 nur 13 Jahre beschrieben werde. Die politischen Zwistigkeiten unter den Kommunisten, ihre eigene Unentschlossenheit in Bezug darauf, werden extrem breitgewalzt. Auch ihre Gedanken zu Frauen und Feminismus sind oft etwas platt, scheinbar nur auf der Tatsache beruhend, dass sie nie Angst hatte Opfer von Vergewaltigung zu werden und sie sich nie sexuell bedroht fühlte.
Das I
Jan 06, 2015 rated it liked it
I was expecting more details of her writing process than her political memoirs. It is good to see the political background and social atmosphere of those years and Lessing has a great eye to depict them; however, this second volume lacks of an emotional integrity. Instead, we see too much details of her political life and never-ending series of people involved in her life than herself as an author.
Dec 31, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating background to 'The Golden Notebook', as it covers the same period. If anything, I probably preferred the autobiography to the novel. ...more
Sally Flint
May 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
This book was about to be withdrawn from our school library collection and I rescued it. it was a text I read a long time ago and I couldn't resist re-visiting it as I, amongst, a million other women am such a fan of Lessing's novels, especially, of course, The Golden Notebook. To be honest, though, the autobiography isn't particularly an easy or, for much of it, a fascinating read, Much of it is based on examing the party in the 50s and it explores some of the big names at the time and her wilt ...more
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Five stars. Full of unputdownable observations.
Ricardo Santos
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doris Lessing mostra neste livro as dificuldades que enfrentou para se tornar uma escritora respeitada e uma mulher independente. Desafiando convenções, ela deixou para trás, no final dos anos 1940, na África, um casamento infeliz e dois filhos pequenos. Ela chega a uma Londres se recuperando da 2ª Guerra Mundial, com o filho do segundo casamento e o manuscrito do seu primeiro romance. Teve de se virar como mãe solteira e aspirante a escritora em vários empregos. Passou por maus bocados. Mas ela ...more
Erwin Maack
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Nessa determinada história, um velho, um lenhador, tem de se afastar de casa, de manhã bem cedinho, para seguir uma Voz que o chama. Eu tinha visualizado a montanha, a floresta e, bem lá embaixo, no sopé, a pequena cabana do lenhador. Eu via o luar nas árvores e no chão, já começando a se desmanchar porque a manhã vinha chegando. O velho andou pelo terreno acidentado, em direção as árvores, mas aí… não pode continuar porque havia um abismo em seu caminho. Joguei uma ponte sobre o abismo e o vel ...more
Sally Edsall
May 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: biography
I love biography. I never thought I would abandon a biography unfinished and feel no desire to pick it up and continue.

I found this dull, self-serving and boring.

Lessing seems to be busy making excuses and justifications for her 'fellow travelling' with Communists in 1950s London. Oh, pleeeze! So what? Heaps of people were members of the party or fellow travellers. many have also renounced or reassessed their former positions, but they don't feel the need to go into tortuous self-denial as Les
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2017
Lessing writes so clearly and observantly that her autobiographies are brilliant, even if she does not come across as likeable. The discovery of Sufism at the end of this one is where it veers off into self-indulgence.
Doris Raines
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Barbara Phi
Apr 20, 2020 rated it liked it
An interesting and occasionally challenging read. Her use of language is complex, bordering on poetic.

I enjoyed the journey
Brian Richards
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In depth, detailed biography of Doris Lessing. 1949-62.
James F
The second volume of her autobiography, from her move to London in 1949 to 1962. Definitely very interesting, if you can ignore the rhetorical passages. While from the first volume, I learned that the first four volumes of the Children of Violence were fairly autobiographical, here I learned (as I partly suspected, since the one thing I know about Lessing is that she is an author, and Martha isn't) that the last volume is much less so -- in fact, I wasn't prepared for how totally non-autobiograp ...more
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Again, a lot about her political life. I love Doris Lessing because she is trying to give you an idea of what Britain was like in the 1950s (mostly that decade). Some portions of this book are absolutely riveting, for me, the description of her search for meaning through Eastern religions. She is very coy, I think, about her relationships, not going into much detail but offering tantalizing tidbits. I have a whole bunch of quotes I will add later.

"I was again in an atmosphere that made every en
Cynthia F Davidson
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
'Nothing is easier than malice,' Doris Lessing writes. 'Once, to be malicious was considered a fault; now it's applauded... dishing the dirt says more about us than we ought to like: it is diagnostic of our nasty time .'
Fending off the malice of her biographers, you could say, Lessing wrote her autobiography because she understood so well how the tendency towards malice would distort her life & work, if she didn't explain it herself.

I thoroughly enjoyed this second volume of her autobiography.
Sel Tuncer
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Bir kitabı ya da daha da özelleştirecek olursak bir oto/biyografiyi bu kadar iyi, bu kadar okunası yapan şey nedir? Biyografiyi yarın karanlıkta düz ve çoğu zaman yorucu bir yolda yürümeye benzeten Lessing, gerçekten güzel yazılmış bir biyografiden daha iyi ne olabilir ki diye sorar kitabın başlarında. Açıkçası ben otobiyografisini okurken bu sorunun hakkını fazlasıyla verdiğini düşündüm. Kitapta beni etkileyen, yazarın olağanüstü derecede sıra dışı bir hayat hikayesi olmasının yanında bunu güçl ...more
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So good. Wittier than Volume One, and my only criticism is it's a bit bogged down with characters and encounters. Some favorite moments: The first time she meets Betrand Russell, he says for absolutely no reason, "Now I hope you are going home and to bed with your lover." On people trying to canonize her: "I myself have had to fight off attempts to turn me into a wise old woman." Is that we she became such a curmudgeon? Speaking of women being cruel to men on a political basis: "Could we have fo ...more
Feb 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Very interesting for its own sake, and also as something to read after having read Golden Notebook (especially if you want to understand what she meant by naming in that book). Really enjoyed her strictures about publishers, book signing, camden council etc., the accounts of discussions with africans in exile such as Joshua Nkomo, and her reflections on writing, and how her opinions about various pieces of hers and others have changed over the decades.
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the second volume of Lessing's autobiography, covering 1949 to 1962' during the time Lessing moved to London, became heavily involved in the communist cause and then, shocked and disillusioned by the revelations of Stalin's atrocities, moved on. This was also the period during which she wrote The Golden Notebook. Lessing is candid, witty and intriguing.
Sybil Nolan
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
There is a lot in here about all sorts of things, including not only the sort of topics you'd expect, like Soviet Communism, but also about London in the early fifties, and London's publishing scene then, and how it changed in the space of a decade. The writing is occasionally desultory, but that didn't stop me reading to the end. ...more
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fantastic concluding volume to DL's autobiography. Sadly, the last pages on Idries Shah and sex seem hurried, but the wonderful passages on her response to the responses to "The Golden Notebook" are a consolation. I envy her. ...more
Kathryn Parmeter
Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Not worth it! Unless you have an intense interest in Doris Lessing as a person. Ai caramba. Far too much dithering!
Jun 22, 2012 is currently reading it
I only read a bit at a time but it's very interesting. Brings back a lot of my memories of my younger self even though I don't have a lot in common with Lessing. ...more
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
I bought this purely for research and ended up absolutely loving it. It was like having a chat with a wise writer friend who had been there done that
Nancy Gregory
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
not a quick read, an interesting book, and definitely a different perspective on life, government, morals..., than I usually see, but an eye opener just the same.
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Both of her parents were British: her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia; her mother had been a nurse. In 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, the family moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Like other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school (such as Oliv ...more

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“The thought [behind the Golden Notebook] was that to divide off and compartmentalize living was dangerous and led to nothing but trouble. Old, young, black, white, men, women, capitalism, socialism: these great dichotomies undo us, force us into unreal categorization, make us look for what separates us rather than what we have in common.” 2 likes
“The media are the equivalent of yesterday's scientists, for today's scientists have seen that when they conduct an experiment they are part of it and influence results by their very being; the media can create a story, a scandal, an event, but behave as if they have nothing to do with it, as if the event or the reputation were a spontaneous happening and they haven't influenced the result, or invented it all in the first place. 'The general interest in ... continues and is growing.' Of course it is, since the journalists are fanning the flames, permitting themselves fits of moral indignation, excitement, concern. Meanwhile the public marvel at them.” 1 likes
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