Thursday, 25 December 2008

Time Bites - Doris Lessing

This collection spans nearly three decades and contains a wide variety of views and reviews. Topics range from Sufism to the destruction of Zimbabwe, from cats to a number of observations on writers past and present. As such it is a much clearer view into the mind of a remarkable writer than one gets from her fiction.

Two things are readily apparent. The first is that Lessing is (and knows she is) human. That is, she has all the warmth, empathy, and conflicts that go with being not just a part of the race but a keen observer of the same. Her passions are clear, his dislikes, equally so. And she is not afraid to speak of either.

The second thing that is clear is that she has a prodigious command of the medium in she works. Lessing is an unfussy stylist. She can say something powerfully and eloquently in a few words and feels no need to embellish that. And once something is said, that too is considered enough. No pretty frame. Just the picture.

There is a third element to Lessing that also becomes clear as you read this collection. A fierce and clear-eyed intelligence. Her knowledge is prodigious, but she is more than knowledgeable. She is also wise. She has learned to ask searching questions, the contemplation of which take us further forward in our understanding of the world. And she asks them in a way that engages us all. This is rare and it is a blessing for which we should all be thankful.