In a half paragraph

These few sentences from About Last Night’s Our Girl in Chicago encapsulate many of my qualms about Doris Lessing’s writing:

[Many critics] tend to describe the value of [Lessing’s] work in terms of truth-telling. Very little is said about how she tells the truth in her fiction: about, say, her style or voice. What matters, according to these accounts, is simply that she is truthful. The conspicuous silence on aesthetic questions makes me a bit suspicious of all this praise, and it definitely resonates with my experience of The Grandmothers, in which the writing was very unbeautiful (I tripped over one sentence that turned out to have eleven commas) and pleasure seemed not only out of the question, but beside the point. If important truths were told in the book, I’m afraid I was too distracted by aesthetic undernourishment to catch them.


Comments are closed.