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The Grass Is Singing: A Novel (Perennial…

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

by Doris Lessing

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1,523524,841 (3.95)212
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
Tags:1001, Nobel, Debut, Rhodesia

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The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing (1950)

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English (46)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
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 |
Doris Lessing's first novel from 1950 is her imagined background to a newspaper clipping about the murder of a white farm wife by her black house servant in Southern Rhodesia which is reproduced at the beginning of the book. Lessing has said (listen to her appearance on the 2003 BBC World Book Club podcast on iTunes for example) that there was an actual news story of this nature that she remembered from her time growing up in Southern Rhodesia and that what interested her was all the unspoken and hidden background to the surface life of white-rule in that country. These were things such as the upper class whites ensuring that the poorer whites did not "let the side down", that masters and servants could co-exist as long as they did not view each other as human beings etc. Her original manuscript was apparently 3 times as long and had actually centred on the character of the English farm manager Tony Marston which the neighbouring rich farmer Slatter hires to try to save the farm of Dick and Mary Turner who have let it run down. Lessing ended up cutting 2/3rds of the book and having it instead centre on the dissolution of the Turner farm and the mental deterioration of both Mary and Dick Turner and the gradual ascendance of the servant Moses whose role in holding up the household reaches a point where it alarms both Slatter and Marston. The novel has lost none of its power and although its ending is known from the beginning it still holds you with a compelling attraction as you watch the death dance unfold.

A few points off for the typos in this Perennial Modern Classics edition that I read, which were surprising to see in a much reprinted early work by a Nobel Prize winner. These started as early as pg. 2 "families " and pg. 9 "premptorily" & "Charlies" for example, but were more sparse later on. ( )
  alanteder | Dec 4, 2015 |
How good can a first novel be? Set in southern Africa after WW2 - dated, but well written.
Read Feb 2004 ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 29, 2015 |
Haunting. ( )
  Phyllis.Mann | Jul 13, 2015 |
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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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It is by the failures and misfits of a
civilization that one can best judge its
-- 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
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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