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The Golden Notebook (1962)

by Doris Lessing

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,717781,761 (3.63)1 / 361
Anna Wulf is a young novelist with writer's block. Divorced, with a young child, and disillusioned by unsatisfactory relationships, she feels her life is falling apart. In fear of madness, she records her experiences in four coloured notebooks.
  1. 31
    The Two of Them by Joanna Russ (lquilter)
    lquilter: While reading The Two of Them by Joanna Russ, I was persistently reminded of Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook. The female protagonist's articulated rage, the psychoanalytic approach, the insurmountability of the patriarchy. For readers across genres who liked either of these novels, I would suggest trying the other.… (more)
  2. 21
    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (readerbabe1984)
  3. 00
    Orwell and Politics (Penguin Modern Classics) by George Orwell (DLSmithies)
    DLSmithies: Alright, this one's tenuous, but bear with me! Orwell has lots of interesting things to say about the socialist movement of the 30s and 40s in Britain and elsewhere, especially in Stalin's Russia. Similarly, the Communist Party in 1950s Britain looms large in the background of The Golden Notebook, and the main character is deeply troubled by the situation in Russia under Stalin (along with everything else that's happening on the world stage at the time). So, you see, there's a link!... ...or maybe it's just me.… (more)
  4. 12
    DORIS LESSING CHILDREN OF VIOLENCE (geneven)
    geneven: This five-book series is great, though depressing in spots. (I haven't read The Golden Notebook.)
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» See also 361 mentions

English (68)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Bulgarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
One of the most magnificent ( )
  RODNEYP | May 19, 2021 |
Enjoyed it, but I might have 4 star enjoyed it at 350-400 pages rather than the current 666 pages. ( )
  curious_squid | Apr 5, 2021 |
I highly related to the conceptual framework of an author who compartmentalizes her life into different diaries/notebooks, even if I could not relate to much of the (now) dated emotions/experiences of an unmarried woman amidst the British Communist Party.
  booms | Jan 24, 2021 |
I really struggled with this one, which I suppose makes me a philistine. I've certainly read more difficult books, but the payoff in the difficult books I've liked is a lot bigger than any payoff this book had for me.

My tepid response to it has actually led me to begin to inspect my attitudes toward literature by women. I like a whole lot of literature by women, and some of my favorite books I've read in the last few years have been by women (some of my best friends are X). I don't think I have a chip on my shoulder about literature by women in general. But this book made me think at times of work by male authors whose work feels similar in places but has resonated more with me. For example, although Lessing's style here is very very different from Gaddis's, I feel like there's a kinship between this book and J R. I count J R among my favorite books in spite of its being annoying in some places and uninteresting or melodramatic in others. The books surely deal in similar material -- art and madness and the insufficiency of language and fragmentation of the psyche and of ideologies and of relationships. But Gaddis's book, which treats these topics from a generally male perspective resonates with me, while Lessing's, which treats them from a generally female perspective, does not. Am I just a pig?

None of this is to say that there weren't things to like in the book. There was humor and occasional profundity. There were scenes or ideas that made a lot of sense to me and that worked for me as written.

But there was also just so very much interaction between men and women that simply did not compute for me. I'm capable of imagining relationships and interactions that don't square with my own particular experience of the world. I enjoy it, even. But so much of what transpires between men and women in this book just seems written by someone who has never observed men and women interacting together. Some of this I realize is because of the period in which the book is written. I thought from time to time of work by Ayn Rand (yuck, I know) or of some of the detective novels I've been reading, in which people behave in ways that I know are dated and stilted and not really the ways most people interact anymore. Maybe literary fiction (by men and women) of the 30s through the early 60s is shot through with this sort of writing and I've just missed it all because most of the fiction I've read from the period is postmodern work that's just doing different things that have caught more of my attention than the relationship dynamics. Or perhaps, internet hermit that I am, I'm the weirdo who doesn't know how people interact.

At any rate, for the struggle this book represented for me, I'd really want there to be a lot bigger payoff, and it just didn't float my boat. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
This is an immense, dense novel about a lot of things: identity, sexuality, feminism, communism, postmodernism, and postcolonialism. At times, the various notebooks become entangled, and the nature of the story is challenging to suss out. Also, after awhile, I got tired of Anna's sex life falling into a tired pattern. The novel was interesting in some spots and rather fusty in others. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lessing, Dorisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valentí, HelenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vink, NettieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The two women were alone in the London flat.
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Ella decides to write again, searches herself for the book which is already written inside her, and waiting to be written down. She spends a great deal of time alone, waiting to discern the outlines of this book inside her.
Having a child means being conscious of the clock, never being free of something that has to be done at a certain moment ahead. I was sitting on the floor this afternoon, watching the sky darken, an inhabitant of a world where one can say, the quality of light means it must be evening, instead of: in exactly an hour I must put on the vegetables.
The essence of the book, the organisation of it, everything in it, says implicitly and explicitly, that we must not divide things off, must not compartmentalise.
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Anna Wulf is a young novelist with writer's block. Divorced, with a young child, and disillusioned by unsatisfactory relationships, she feels her life is falling apart. In fear of madness, she records her experiences in four coloured notebooks.

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