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255 Book Reviews conflicted but always stimulating attempts to grapple with these questions. As Wilder shows in this book, they remain essential thinkers as we address these issues in the present and foreseeable future. Thus, Freedom Time is an invaluable resource for students and scholars interested in Caribbean studies, postcolonial studies, and the political history of the twentieth century. Víctor Figueroa Works Cited Césaire, Aimé. The Collected Poetry. Trans. Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith. Berkeley: U of California P, 1983. Print. Wilder, Gary. The French Imperial Nation-State: Negritude and Colonial Humanism between the Two World Wars. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2005. Print. Alice Ridout, Roberta Rubenstein, and Sandra Singer, eds. Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook After Fifty. New York: Palgrave, 2015. Pp. xi, 221. CAD $90. The introduction to Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook After Fifty, written by editors Alice Ridout, Roberta Rubenstein, and Sandra Singer, opens with an acknowledgement of Lessing’s irritation at having her landmark novel misread by many readers and reviewers at the time of its publication, in 1962. In 1971, Lessing famously reacted to the audience’s response in a preface that is included in all subsequent reprintings of The Golden Notebook. After explaining the concept of breakdown as self-healing, the “inner self’s dismissing false dichotomies and divisions,” Lessing writes: “But nobody so much as noticed this central theme, because the book was instantly belittled . . . as being about the sex war” (8). She asserts that “the essence of the book, the organization of it, everything in it, says implicitly and explicitly, that we must not divide things off, must not compartmentalize” (Lessing 10). Despite Lessing’s instruction and her “stated objections to analytical critique,” contributors to the compilation challenge Lessing’s interpretation of her own novel, approaching The Golden Notebook from a variety of angles, “even against authorial authority itself” (Ridout et al. 3). Unsurprisingly, Lessing’s warning against division is similarly unheeded, given the novel’s length and thematic and formal complexity. In Julie Cairnie’s words, “critics carve up The Golden Notebook according to our own proclivities” (19). The collection, put together to celebrate Lessing’s text after five decades, is afforded 256 Book Reviews “[j]ust over a half-century of chronological distance from the novel and its mid-fifties setting and preoccupations,” which enables “new geopolitical, theoretical, social, aesthetic, and autobiographical approaches through which to appreciate and reevaluate this ever-provocative text” (3). Cairnie discusses the sections set in Rhodesia in the 1940s and their relevance to black and white Zimbabwean women writers; Ridout makes a delightful comparison between The Golden Notebook and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary; and Jonah Raskin reminiscences about a day spent interviewing Lessing on a bed in an old farmhouse. In these examples alone, the collection addresses vastly diverse topics, all circling Lessing and her novel, which continues to “challenge, surprise, and inspire twentiethcentury readers” (9). The book includes a comprehensive introduction and twelve contributions from “established and emerging scholars across several generations and nationalities—American, Canadian, British, Australian” (3). The pieces range in topic and approach, are categorized into three parts, and clearly demonstrate that Lessing’s novel still has much to offer contemporary criticism over fifty years after its creation. In Part I, “Politics and Geopolitics,” four contributors discuss political aspects of Lessing’s novel—the African setting of the black notebook (Cairnie), nuclear deterrence and the Cold War as important to the book’s narrative (Mark Pedretti, Cornelius Collins), and a discussion of feminism and homosexuality/homophobia in the text (Singer)—from a contemporary viewpoint and trace the implications of The Golden Notebook past the time of its publication and into the book’s future. Pedretti’s “Doris Lessing and the Madness of Nuclear Deterrence” is one of the most compelling pieces in the collection. He focuses on an area that is largely ignored in previous scholarship about the text: the importance of the nuclear bomb. He attributes this oversight to the general categorization of Cold War fiction as largely American and postmodern. By first tracing the relationship between postwar American literature and postmodernism, Pedretti also posits an “as yet unrecognized field of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1920-1222
Print ISSN
0004-1327
Pages
pp. 255-257
Launched on MUSE
2017-09-06
Open Access
No
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