Archive for October 14th, 2007

Never too late for Lessing

Nobel prize medal for literatureI learned Doris Lessing had won this year’s Nobel prize for literature from Anne Fernald’s blog Fernham. Lessing heard the news from a gaggle of reporters outside her London flat.

She responded with surprise, modesty, and a lament that Virginia Woolf had not been one of her Nobel predecessors.

“Of course I didn’t expect to get it,” the prolific writer told The Guardian. “It is good to be the 11th woman on the list, I’m only sorry that one of the first or fourth or the fifth wasn’t Virginia Woolf.”

At nearly 88, Lessing had been on the Nobel short list for 40 years. “Either they were going to give it to me sometime before I popped off or not at all,” she told the New York Times.

The Nobel Academy singled out her 1962 postmodern feminist masterpiece, The Golden Notebook, calling it “a pioneering work” that “belongs to the handful of books that informed the 20th-century view of the male-female relationship.”

Lessing is only the eleventh female writer to be awarded literature’s top prize in 104 years. She is also its oldest recipient.

Nevertheless, the backlash has begun. American literary critic Harold Bloom called the academy’s choice of Lessing “pure political correctness,” an ironic comment considering the firebrand author’s long history of political controversy.

Listen to a telephone interview with Lessing on the Nobel Prize Web site.  Or check out a BBC retrospective of her life and work.

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