Read African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe by Doris Lessing Free Online
Book Title: African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe|
The author of the book: Doris Lessing
Edition: Harper Perennial
The size of the: 9.25 MB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: August 4th 1993
ISBN 13: 9780060924331
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 2481 times
Reader ratings: 5.3
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I read this book in February 2013.
Doris Lessing describes the country she left in 1947 and then revisited four times after 1980 when Robert Mugabe took over government. She experiences the anger, numbness and shock of traumatized people - looking in from the outside. Although she lived there for 25 years, she never made a capital investments in the country: meaning that she had nothing to lose when the shitzzzzos hit the fan, and couldn't care less what happened to those people who did invest in the country. During these visits she relives the time she was part of the freedom movement handing out Marxist pamphlets and promising a better dispensation if all the whites, including her own family, could be chased out of the country.
Now the results are in: all wild animals were destroyed, erosion and overgrazing have caused the fertile soil to wash away, thousands of squatters invaded farms that cannot carry the number of people, blacks kill blacks, white people were murdered, others fled, famine is everywhere, AIDS have become a silent killer and chaos rules where inexperienced uneducated supporters of Mugabe replace the white civil servants in government offices. Individual rights is frowned upon as anti-Marxist.
The country settles down in the new dispensation and hope emerges but is soon dashed by the reality of Mugabe's reign of terror. She gets involved in Writers Association but must watch how it is destroyed by the government.
Doris Lessing writes with candor, experience, and brilliance a much detailed, comprehenive book about the Zimbabwean landscape and all its people. But, in my humble opinion, she did not have the guts in the end to resettle in the country ruled by an ideology she helped promoted, yet turned her back on, probably when the reality of communism hit home for her. England was a much safer place where she could sit on the stand and watch the bloody game played on the field below. A field very far away from her where she does not have to personally experience any of its pain and losses.
It is a good African read(it becomes a bit tedious to finish),by a person who knows how to criticize from the outside and benefit financially from the situation without being directly involved in it. She uses the country to keep her England nest feathered. She might be a good writer and selling many books, but that is not good enough, sorry.
Given her age, she cannot be involved in it anymore, although she should have come back after 1980 and be in the country she claims to love deeply.
I know I am a bit harsh here, but I often wonder how people find communism so attractive if many intellectuals, educated as well as ordinary inhabitants of those countries flee those places, even dying in the process to get away. It is the -ism that got more people killed than all the wars in the world combined. Communist countries also do not have refugee camps for people leaving their capitalist countries to seek a new life in Stalinism or Maoism. South Africa has a serious problem with literary millions of Zimbabweans fleeing their country.
For this reason I am not impressed with Doris Lessing's book since it does not cover in detail the true atrocities that happened after 1980 as well. But I do appreciate her description of the inhabitants, their energy, optimism, hope and willingness to try and make it work. She describes their feeling of elation to be finally free from oppression very well indeed.
She has gone to a lot of trouble to write a detailed account of the country, although cannot get away from her own subjective prejudices, which, in my humble opinion, lessen the value of the her effort somewhat.
I also detect an aversion to particularly the white farmers and attribute it to her own life as a poor farmer's daughter who were criticized, perhaps discriminated against, humiliated, and looked down upon by them. Her family were regarded as similar to 'white trash', and that by her own (British) people! She never forgave them and clearly had an ax to grind which she constantly does in her writings. So much so, that it unbalance her thinking in her writings to some extend. It is a pity really, since the book could have been of more value to more people if she was able to be more objective in her approach. It's still a good account of the life in Zimbabwe after 1980.
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Read information about the authorBoth 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 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).
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