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Identity in Doris Lessing’s Space Fiction By David Waterman

Chapter 1:  Androgynous Identity in a Fragmented Society: Briefing for a Descent into Hell
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Identity in Doris Lessing’s Space Fiction

Chapter 1

Androgynous Identity in a Fragmented Society: Briefing for a Descent into Hell

Like many British authors influenced by the social effects of imperialism and war, Doris Lessing treats the human subject as a political text, on which the dominant culture inscribes its mark, assigning to each the role that s/he is required to fill. Those who resist their placement become objects to be repressed and reoriented by institutions which act directly on their bodies and their minds, such as prisons or psychiatric hospitals1. A culture classes its subjects by categories, often according to race, gender, socioeconomic class, or nationality, by means of a binary system based on dominance and submission, a system which is formed, according to Judith Butler (in a discussion of Luce Irigaray’s production of the feminine), by the exclusion of possibilities for subversion, or by limiting the choices available to subjects: in her words, “through the exclusion of a field of disruptive possibilities” (Bodies that Matter, 35).