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The Grass Is Singing: A Novel (Perennial…
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The Grass Is Singing: A Novel (Perennial Classics) (original 1950; edition 2000)

by Doris Lessing

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1,553544,724 (3.95)226
Member:hemlokgang
Title:The Grass Is Singing: A Novel (Perennial Classics)
Authors:Doris Lessing
Info:Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2000), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:1001, Nobel, Debut, Rhodesia

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The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing (1950)

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» See also 226 mentions

English (48)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (53)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
Reading it shaped my view of being a woman in the world during the eighties, and of how the world had changed in certain aspects, though not necessarily enough.
  asa_linde | Sep 6, 2016 |
This is the story of a young white woman in postwar Rhodesia who grows up kind of always-already dispirited by her parents' broken marriage, finds a niche for herself and then loses it through a compulsion to repeat her trauma, marries a good but feckless farmer with an expansive but soft and easily wounded soul, and finds herself isolated and floundering as she tries to deal with their African labourers--very quickly, one labourer in particular, who's just trying (I think--if this book has a flaw it's that Moses remains a cipher till the very end, though I can't see that much good would have come of it if the white Rhodesian Lessing had tried to get inside his head really) to be a man and bear up under impossible circumstances. It's a story of inverted intersectionality, of what happens when someone oppressed for her gender is bound to someone oppressed for his poverty and then bound by him further to someone oppressed for his race (lest their be any doubt, by far the most acute form of oppression in their particular context) given the opportunity to depend on and resent and oppress one another--and the way it achieves the resonance of tragedy is that for each of them, oppression of one another is the irreducible byproduct of trying to follow their own entirely innocent hearts' joys and/or protect their tender spots. It's great historical forces coming to a head under a hot tin roof in a backwater settlement in a doomed colony, and it's absolutely riveting and powerful and true. ( )
  MeditationesMartini | Aug 4, 2016 |
An exciting and interesting plot, vividly described setting, and a depth of understanding about severe culture clash without a hint of know-it-all attitude - what more could I want?

I loved this book. Lessing has written a novel that reads like a page turner but has the depth of a slow, studied book. The story of Mary Turner is revealed after we read of her murder on the first page of the book. Her childhood, her marriage, her experience of isolated farm life, and her complete ignorance of the native people of Southern Rhodesia, all combine to lead to her death in a complex and compelling way.

This book manages to be a look at marriage, a look at a white woman's available paths in Rhodesia, and a study of the interactions of the various races and socio-economic levels in Rhodesia all at the same time. And it remains readable and memorable while doing it.

I particularly loved that Lessing doesn't pretend to know more about the native Africans in her book than she actually does. Their emotions and lives are not at all described from their own point of view, only through the lens of the white people around them and a bit through their actions. I appreciated that she didn't try to enlighten those reading her book on "what Africans are like" - something that drove me crazy and seemed so demeaning to African culture in a book I read recently, [Out of Africa].

I highly recommend this. ( )
  japaul22 | Jun 6, 2016 |
This is a remarkable character study featuring the most unlikeable heroine I have ever come across. Lessing's writing draws you in, you can almost feel the African sun beating down relentlessly on that tin roof (and into Mary's psyche) and even though there's not much action, it's a page turner. My foremost complaint is that Moses is such a one dimensional character, I wish we had had a little less insight into Mary's mind, and more into his thoughts and motivations. ( )
  Kkamm | May 7, 2016 |
258) The Grass is Singing Doris Lessing
★★★ and a half

Set in South Africa the book opens with the body of a white woman farm owner being found murdered and the confession of her black house boy Moses that he murdered her.

We then travel back through time and follow the woman, Mary, right from her childhood to her murder along the way learning why Moses may want to kill her, although for me the motive remained unclear and as with the gossip in the book its hard to tell what really went on behind closed doors.

All I can say about Mary is she was a terrible racist and an inhuman boss I was surprised it took as long as it did for someone to bump her off.

This was an interesting insight into life of a poor white farmer who has no luck with the land and the racial relations not only with the black workers but with the fellow white community and how their acts of charity are really acts to prevent the white community from being thought less of, or of self advancement.

A bleak story really. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Doris Lessingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hökby, BertilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hökby, GunvorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nová, SoňaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
It is by the failures and misfits of a
civilization that one can best judge its
weaknesses.
-- Author unknown
In this decayed hole among the mountains
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,
Dry bones can harm no one.
Only a cock stood on the rooftree
Co co rico, co co rico
In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
Bringing rain

Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder

-- from The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot
with grateful acknowledgements to the
author and to Messrs Faber & Faber
Dedication
To
Mrs GLADYS MAASDORP
of Southern Rhodesia
for whom I feel the greatest
affection and admiration
First words
Mary Turner, wife of Richard Turner, a farmer at Ngesi, was found murdered on the front verandah of their homestead yesterday morning.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061673749, Paperback)

Set in Southern Rhodesia under white rule, Doris Lessing's first novel is at once a riveting chronicle of human disintegration, a beautifully understated social critique, and a brilliant depiction of the quiet horror of one woman's struggleagainst a ruthless fate.

Mary Turner is a self-confident, independent young woman who becomes the depressed, frustrated wife of an ineffectual, unsuccessful farmer. Little by little the ennui of years on the farm works its slow poison. Mary's despair progresses until the fateful arrival of Moses, an enigmatic, virile black servant. Locked in anguish, Mary and Moses—master and slave—are trapped in a web of mounting attraction and repulsion, until their psychic tension explodes with devastating consequences.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:01 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Set in South Africa under white rule, [this book is] both a ... chronicle of human disintegration and an ... understated social critique. Mary Turner is a self-confident, independent young woman who becomes the depressed, frustrated wife of an ineffectual, unsuccessful farmer. Little by little the ennui of years on the farm work their slow poison, and Mary's despair progresses until the fateful arrival of an enigmatic and virile black servant, Moses.... Mary and Moses - master and slave - are trapped in a web of mounting attraction and repulsion. -Back cover.… (more)

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