Identity in Doris Lessing’s Space Fiction

by David Waterman

Description

In this study of identity in Doris Lessing’s space fiction, David Waterman devotes a chapter to each of the five novels in the Canopus in Argos: Archives series, as well as Briefing for a Descent into Hell, Memoirs of a Survivor and finally The Reason for It.

His major argument is that Lessing’s space fiction identifies the universal problem – society’s division into competitive and predatory groups – and places it outside the bounds of time and space, encouraging a social critique which takes into account our inherited blindness, our “degenerative disease” which must be addressed before genuine progress can be made.

Especially important is the idea that people are defined and formed by their place within these groups, which provide, after all, the material anchors which ground everyday reality and identity. Lessing insists, however, that human beings must abandon such herd-mentality and seek a collective identity freed from such limitations, and Waterman links current social theory to Lessing’s novels of “universal identity,” thus encouraging the reader to consider alternative ways in which identity could be established.

Identity in Doris Lessing's Space Fiction is an important addition to understanding the works of this prolific author.



 

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