Monday, March 3, 2008

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

Question: In Doris Lessing's novel, The Golden Notebook, writer Anna Wulf suffers from writer's block. She claims that world events have overwhelmed her until she feels that her words are an insignificant weapon against the injustices and tyrannies of the present day. How do you feel that this sort of writer's block may have affected writers - and novelists in particular - after the terrorist attacks on 9/11?

2 comments:

WPL Book Discussion said...

liam w said...
There has certainly been no shortage of WORDS following 9/11. Writers of all sorts wrote essays and commentaries in all sorts of publications. The problem for novelists, though, is what kinds of fiction can be made after these events ... how the conventional ideas of what fiction DOES can apply in the post-9/11 world. Obviously it takes a lot longer to create a work of fiction than it does to write an essay, and works that relate directly or indirectly to these events have been coming out over the last couple of years. Don deLillo's "Falling man", Claire Messud's "Emperor's children" are 2 that made prety direct (and effective) use; Philip Roth's "Exit ghost" had a less direct but also effective take. Whether any of these are significant weapons is another matter, but they can help us sort things out a bit ...

Anonymous said...

I can understand what Lessing was saying through her character, though. Fiction seems like a frivilous pastime after something that devastating; at first, anyway. I found that I couldn't write for months after 9/11 - not even a diary entry, never mind fiction. I took up needlepoint. Then I realized that I was still reading fiction - for relief, for reassurance, and for inspiration. That was when I thought, "Hey. Joan Didion was right. 'We tell ourselves stories in order to live.'" So, let's get on with it.