TITLE

White Postcolonial Guilt in Doris Lessing's The Grass Is Singing

AUTHOR(S)
WANG, JOY
PUB. DATE
September 2009
SOURCE
Research in African Literatures;Fall2009, Vol. 40 Issue 3, p37
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Literary Criticism
ABSTRACT
This paper examines representations of historical guilt, agency, and transformation in Doris Lessing's novel The Grass is Singing. In particular, this paper argues that the warped interracial relationship between the novel's white female protagonist, Mary Turner, and her black servant Moses, becomes the vehicle for a cathartic and redemptive alleviation of white postcolonial guilt. The allegorical violence that infuses this narrative of atonement is historicized within the context of the Black Peril in South Africa and the heightened surveillance of feelings under apartheid. Mary's experience of guilt is analyzed according to Judith Butler's argument that subject formation relies paradoxically upon the twin experiences of both abjection and agency. Even as Mary's sense of historical guilt becomes a debilitating form of abjection, it encodes and bolsters powerful form of agency. Mary's dementia is read as a symbol of J. M. Coetzee's more recent characterization of apartheid as an event of "collective insanity," and forms the basis for a broader critique of the limits and exclusions of white postcolonial guilt.
ACCESSION #
43641618

 

Related Articles

  • The manichean allegories of Doris Lessing's The Grass Is Singing. Fishburn, Katherine // Research in African Literatures;Winter94, Vol. 25 Issue 4, p1 

    Discusses the manichean allegories in the book `The Grass Is Singing,' by Doris Lessing. Realism and vividness of Lessing's portrayal of colonialism; Colonialist's need to perpetuate racial differences; Transition in colonized Africa from the dominant phase to the hegemonic; Plurality of meaning.

  • Authority, truthtelling, and parody: Doris Lessing and `the book'. Franko, Carol // Papers on Language & Literature;Summer95, Vol. 31 Issue 3, p255 

    Provides a critical interpretation of writer Doris Lessing's fiction. Lessing's ambivalence toward canonical authorities; Heroine's subjectivity as battleground of discourses in `Martha Quest'; Power of language to construct experience; Difference of genre and setting in `The Sun Between Their...

  • "White Material": A New Film Loosely Based on "The Grass Is Singing." Schlueter, Paul // Doris Lessing Studies;Winter2010/2011, Vol. 29 Issue 2, p26 

    The article presents criticism on the film "White Material" directed by Claire Denis which is an adaptation of Doris Lessing's "The Grass is Singing." It views the film more a homage to Lessing than an adaptation. It notes the film's depiction of decline of a white colonial power. It also...

  • On Not Writing (Realist) Characters: The Uncanny Experimentalism of The Grass is Singing. Stuber, Dorian // Doris Lessing Studies;Fall2012, Vol. 30 Issue 2, p4 

    The article assesses the technique used in writing the book "The Grass Is Singing," by Doris Lessing wherein she fails to write realist characters in the story. It mentions that the technique is experimental as the author focuses on highlighting the work's subject matter. According to the...

  • Marginalised Psyche A Study of Doris Lessing's The Grass Is Singing. A., Dhanalakshmi // Language in India;Sep2011, Vol. 11 Issue 9, p148 

    The article critiques the book "The Grass Is Singing," by Doris Lessing which exemplifies an extremely mature psychological dramatization of the terrifying touches of truth. It reflects the ill-effects of racism, colonialism, and injustice while presented in fictional shape from a chaotic and...

  • A Socialist Feminist Reading of Doris Lessing's the Grass is Singing. Yahya, Wan Roselezam Wan; Lalbakhsh, Pedram // International Journal of the Humanities;2010, Vol. 7 Issue 12, p1 

    This paper examines how the society shapes and redefines women's identity through capitalist patriarchal economy in Doris Lessing's novel The Grass Is Singing. Being aware of women's sufferings and problems under a patriarchal domination organized in the context of capitalism has...

  • First, And Most Recent. Rubenstein, Roberta // New Republic;6/21/75, Vol. 172 Issue 25, p21 

    Reviews the books "The Grass Is Singing," by Doris Lessing, and "The Memoirs of a Survivor," by Doris Lessing.

  • VELDTANSCHAUUNG: DORIS LESSING'S SAVAGE AFRICA. Bertelsen, Eve // Modern Fiction Studies;Winter91, Vol. 37 Issue 4, p647 

    Discusses the book 'The Grass Is Singing,' by Doris Lessing. Expression of ideological positions; Major cultural source of Rhodesian reality interpretations; Parallelism between the themes of racism and madness; Mediation of romantic myth in the novel's depiction of Africa and the savage...

  • Predicament of Women in the Novels of Doris Lessing. Neelkamal, Kumari // Poetcrit;Jan-Jun2019, Vol. 32 Issue 1, p85 

    The article explores the predicament of women in the novels of Doris Lessing, British novelist who was awarded with Nobel Prize for literature in 2007. It discusses the woman’s engagement with matters of gender and of mental breakdown have been addressed in the "Grass is Singing" novel by...

Share

Read the Article

Courtesy of THE LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA

Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics