The Golden Notebook

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The Golden Notebook
The Golden Notebook.gif
AuthorDoris Lessing
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
GenreNovel
PublisherMichael Joseph
Publication date1962
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)
ISBN0-7181-0970-8
OCLC Number595787
Dewey Decimal823/.9/14
LC ClassificationPZ3.L56684 Go5 PR6023.E833
 
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The Golden Notebook
The Golden Notebook.gif
AuthorDoris Lessing
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
GenreNovel
PublisherMichael Joseph
Publication date1962
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)
ISBN0-7181-0970-8
OCLC Number595787
Dewey Decimal823/.9/14
LC ClassificationPZ3.L56684 Go5 PR6023.E833

The Golden Notebook is a 1962 novel by Doris Lessing. This book, as well as the couple that followed it, enters the realm of what Margaret Drabble in The Oxford Companion to English Literature has called Lessing's "inner space fiction," her work that explores mental and societal breakdown. The book also contains a powerful anti-war and anti-Stalinist message, an extended analysis of communism and the Communist Party in England from the 1930s to the 1950s, and a famed examination of the budding sexual and women's liberation movements. The Golden Notebook has been translated into a number of other languages.

In 2005, the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels since 1923.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

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-coloured, notebook. The book intersperses segments of an ostensibly realistic narrative of the lives of Molly and Anna, and their children, ex-husbands and lovers—entitled Free Women—with excerpts from Anna's four notebooks, coloured black (of Anna's experience in Southern Rhodesia, before and during WWII, 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.[citation needed]

Major themes[edit]

All four notebooks and the frame narrative testify to the above themes of Stalinism, the Cold War and the threat of nuclear conflagration, and women's struggles with the conflicts of work, sex, love, maternity, and politics.[citation needed] However, Lessing herself in the preface claimed that the most important theme in the novel is fragmentation the mental breakdown that Anna suffers, perhaps from the compartmentalization of her life reflected in the division of the four notebooks, but also reflecting the fragmentation of society. Her relationship and attempt to draw everything together in the golden notebook at the end of the hovel are both the final stage of Anna's intolerable mental breakdown, and her attempt to overcome the fragmentation and madness.

Characters[edit]

References[edit]

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