I am greatly obliged my advisor professor Mm F. Bouabdeli for her incessant instruction and encouragement. I would stress upon the valuable and precious help that she gave me during this research, without her precious information this thesis could not stand. Special thanks to everyone help me during this research paper.

Table of Contents General Introduction Part one What is Modernism? History of Post-Modernism Modernism versus Post-Modernism A: Modernism B: Post-modernism Part two Biography of Doris Lessing The Golden Notebook Plot Summary Characters, Setting, and Mood Themes The Golden Notebook as a Post-Modern Novel Conclusion Bibliography

This research paper is an attempt to explore the history movement of the British Post-Modern Literature in which the writers attempt to capture the essence of modern life. It is also an attempt to see to what extent this movement is similar or distinct from the other literary movements, with a consideration to the history of the British Post-Modern literature beginning. Besides, my thesis aims to study The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing and to see to what extent the novel is a Post-modern one by exploring the characteristics of the novel. This monograph is divided into two parts: Theoretical part I have dealt with three parts: The first section is about the Modern literature, in that, to have a clear idea about the origins of the PostModern thought. The second section tackles the history of Post-Modern literature, and the third one is a kind of comparison between Modern and Postmodern literature to examine the differences and the similarities between the two historical movements. Practical part, in which, I have tried to provide an analysis of a novel, by the British Nobel Prize-wining Doris Lessing. Taking one of its remarkable works, The Golden Notebook (1962) a novel that it has a strong relationship to the PostModern era. First, I have tried to give a biography of the author. Then I have tried to analyse the novel in terms of the Plot, Themes, Characters, and the Sitting. Besides, I have tried to discuss the characteristics of the Golden Notebook and its relation with the Post-Modern era and to see to what extant the novel is a Post-Modern novel. In conclusion, I would stress that the Post-Modern thought is an important historical movement in the British literature. Even that some writers argue that Post-modernism was merely a continuous form of Modernism thought, but still

the Post-modern thought has its one characteristic and stands alone. In addition, The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing is still remarkably one of the most influential book in the Post-Modern thought. What is Modernity? To have a clear understanding of what is Post-Modernism we should have a short glance toward the beginning of Modernism, in order to explore its emergence, style, characteristics, and the famous writers that were leading the Modernism thought. “For traditionalists Modernism is nothing less than a spiritual disease that continues to spread like a plague across the globe, decimating traditional cultures whenever they are still to be found. Although its historical origins are European, modernism is now tied to no specific area or civilisation”. 1 The Renaissance, the scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment were the main factors of the social or the historical change of human thought and a revolution against the norms of the society. They establish toward new principle follies of modernist thought such as, Scientism, rationalism, relativism, materialism etc. Chew C Samuel argues that: “The half decade before the First World War was enlivened with new movements in poetry and the other arts.”2 The concept of modern to its history, it comes from the word “modern in its Latin form “modernus” was used for the first time in the late 5th century to distinguish the roman and pagan past from the new Christian present. In 1924, the writer Virginia Woolf writes: “In or about December, 1910, human character changed…All
human relations have shifted—those between masters and servants, husbands and wives, parents and children. And when

1 2

Exploring Modernism Literary History of England

human relationships change there is at the same time a change in religion, conduct, politics and literature.”3

She was dealing with what we can characterize as the development of the Modernist sensibility. To literary Modernism, we attached the names of Joyce, Woolf, and Eliot. A transformation in fiction, poetry, and literature emerged in their works. In this conception, newness is potentially revolutionary. In this respect, Habernas says that: “Modernity revolts against the normalizing functions of tradition; modernity lives on the experience of rebelling against all that is nominative”4 Modernism was characterised by belief that there is a separation between “high” culture and “low” culture. In addition, one another characteristic is that the confidence of the work of the artist is a unique and powerful creation with its own individual atmosphere. Also, Modernism influenced by Freud’s studies of the unconscious and new interest in the art of primitive people.

3 4 Habermas, Modernity versus Post-Modernity. PDF

History of Post-Modern Literature Post-Modernism in literature was essentially historical literary movement in which writers attempted to gain the essence of modern life in both: the form and the content of their works, and it is used to describe some characteristics of postworld war 2 literature, which based on, fragmentation, paradox, etc. PostModernism as a term is hard to define, and there is little contract on the definite scope, characteristics, and importance of post-Modernism in literature. According to stylistics, there is no exact date for the rise or the fall of postmodernism popularity. In 1941, the year in which the English novelist Virginia Woolf and the Irish novelist James Joyce both died, is used a rough boundary for post-Modernism’s start. Some theorists argue that Post-Modernism is not just an advancement form Modernism. However, others argue that Post-Modernism is merely a continuous form of Modernity. These lead to a debatable issue that is to say, whether PostModernity is actually a beak with Modernity, or merely is a continuation of Modernity. However, these critics suggest that Post-Modernism has an identity of its own. Berger argues in 1991 that:
“Postmodernist theory is necessary to explain the world we now live in. The defenders of postmodernism believe that it represents an important “cultural mutation” that has occurred in since 1960 and this mutation in beliefs, attitudes, philosophies and aesthetic sensibilities is what is explained by theorists of postmodernism. ”5

Post-Modern was characterized by ideas with directly challenged some of the fundamental assumption of Modernity. Post-Modernism attempts to break

A. A. Berger, “Post-Modern Encyclopaedia Article” PDF

the traditions of Modernity by arguing that human nature was for to complex and contained substantial degree of less rationality. Steven Connor in 2004, exploring the existing of Post-Modernism, states that:
“The term “postmodernism” means, literally speaking, “after modernism.” It also can mean, “Moving beyond” or “opposing”. That is to say, the prefix ‘post’ does not necessarily denote a new era. Rather, it could also indicate a reaction against modernism in the wake of Second World War, and it could imply a reaction to significant post-war events: The civil rights movement in the United States, the beginning of the cold war. Some further argue that the beginning of post-modernism related to the publication of The Cannibal by John Hawks in 1956. Some linked the beginning of post-modern with the publication of Structure Sign, and Play by Jacques Derrida. Although Post-modern had developed from modernity, postmodern literature had primarily characterized by the question of anthology. However, modernity had primarily concerned by an epistemological dominant.”6


Steven Connor, The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism.Cambridge:University Press, 2004

Modernism versus Post-Modernism: There is a considerable amount of debate about Modernism and PostModernism in the universities. However, other theorists argue that PostModernism is just a continuous form of Modernism. However, some declare that Post-Modernism is a break with Modernity. Post-Modernism and Modernism differ in many fields like linguistics, literary theory and that what it make the “antagonism” between the two different movements. To grasp the notion of antagonism between Modernism and Postmodernism we should take the characteristics of each and made a comprehensive study to it. These characteristics help the studying of the two movements in order to have real understanding of the relation between them. 7 A: some characteristics of modernism: • Modernity revolts against the normalizing functions of tradition; Modernity lives on the experience of rebelling against all that is nominative. • Modernism was characterized by the subjective mood of its writings. • In addition, modernist believes we can know and modernism involves making distinctions between the elite arts and popular culture. B: some characteristics of Postmodernism: 8 • Post-Modern, was characterized by ideas with directly challenged and opposed some of the fundamental assumption of modernity. PostModernism attempts to break this tradition at once by arguing that human nature was for to complex and contained substantial degree of irrationality.
7 8

Literary History of England ‘ Postmodernism Encyclopaedia Article’ PDF

• Post-Modernism was characterised by the objective mood of its writings. These enhance the theory that Post-Modernism is actually is a break with Modernity and has its own identity. • Postmodernists argue that we cannot know reality, but we are always misleading by illusions. • Post-Modernism involves what it would be considered as dedifferentiation. It breaks down the distinctions between the elite arts and popular culture and revels in experimentation and in mass mediated culture. There are other characteristics of both Post-Modernism and Modernism in which they contrast that is to say, the opposition between the two schools is obvious in many different ideas and thoughts. This contrast in both the form and the content of the two schools gave us two different thought and this will enhance the criterion that the Post-Modernism is a beak with Modernity and not merely a continuation of it. 9


‘ Postmodernism Encyclopaedia Article’ PDF

Biography of Doris Lessing: Doris Lessing was born in 1919, in Persia (now Iran), of British parents. When she was five years old, the family moved to a farm in Southern Rhodesia, in Africa. Like all white people of that period, the family had black servants and farm workers, who were paid almost nothing. Lessing could not accept this as she grew older. She left school at fifteen, and then lived in Salisbury, the capital of Rhodesia, from the age of 18 to 30. She married twice but both marriages failed10. Lessing has described her childhood as irregular and mix of some pleasure, and much pain. Harry is Doris Lessing’s brother, was one retreat from an otherwise miserable existence. Her mother obsessed with raising a proper daughter, enforce strict or rigid rules at home, therefore she put Doris in a convent school. Then, she was sent to an all-girls high school in the capital of Salisbury, from which Lessing soon dropped out; and it was the end of her formal education, that is what made her as other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school such as: (Olive Schreiner and Nadine Gordiner), so Lessing made herself into a self-educated intellectual, she recently commented that unhappy childhood seen to produce fiction writer, as a result Lessing says that: “Yes, I think that is true. Though it wasn’t apparent to me then. Of course, I wasn’t thinking in terms of being a writer then. I was just thinking about how to escape, all the time.”11 In addition, Lessing early reading included Dickens, Scott, and Stevenson; later she discovered D. H Lawrence. In order to flight from her mother, Lessing left home when she was fifteen, and took a job as a nursemaid. Her employer gave her books on politics, and sociology to read, while his “brother-in-law crept into her bed and gave her incept kisses”12 and began writing around this time in 1937, and she married her
Http// Http// paid 12 Ibid
10 11

first husband Frank Wisdom, which she had two children before the marriage ended in 1943. After her divorce, Lessing was drawn to the community of the Left Book Club, a Communist Book Club 13 which she had joined the year before. It was here that she meets her second husband, Gottfried Lessing. They were married shortly after she joined the group and had a child together, and also she ended in divorce in 1949. Her first novel, The Grass is Singing was published in 195014. Her breakthrough work, The Golden Notebook was published in 1962. In 2007, Lessing was awarded the Noble Prise for Literature. She was 87, making her the oldest winner of the literature Prise of the time award.

The Golden Notebook
1: Plot Summary: The Golden Notebook is a novel by the British Nobel Prize-winning Doris Lessing. Written in 1962, the novel gains considerable famous by the style of writing of Dories Lessing. The book is a story of Anna Wulf and it recounts the
13 14

“Companions of Literature List ”Archived from the original on 7 July 2007 Brief Chronology. A Home for the Highland Cattle and the Broad view Press, 2003

sexual and political experiences of the author. The structure of The Golden Notebook is a mixture of four notebooks namely: Red, Blue, Yellow, and Black with an interspersion of the episode of “free woman” and exploring the sentimental life of Anna and Molly, which they were separated from their husbands. In 1983, Lorna Sage explores the structure of The Golden Notebook in her book Dories Lessing Contemporary Writers. She states that:
“The structure of The Golden Notebook – the containing conventional novel ‘free women’, intercut with four ‘notebooks’ that explore the underlying chaos of relations between sexual and political experience and creativity–is elaborately and deliberately orchestrated. More so, in fact, than anything Lessing had done since her first novel.”15

In 2006, Nicholas Ogan explores the structure of the Golden Notebook; in his critical paper, he argues that:
“Lessing makes much of the structure of the novel. The red notebook for the political part of the novel, the yellow notebook for personal reminiscences, the blue one for a diary, the black one for her early experiences, and the golden one for some kind of supposed synthesis, all interspersed with the omnisciently narrated conventional novel, Free Women, all make for a cumbersome and somewhat pretentious format. Some will argue, unconvincingly, that the structure somehow mirrors the confusion of the narrator’s life, but the effect is to make the book something of a hodgepodge. The various heroines, whether named Ella or Anna, are so obviously the same person, that the changing point of view adds little to the book.” 16

2: The Tone, Setting, and Characters of the Story: A: The Tone: In exploring the tone of the novel, Lorna Sage in 1983 in her book Contemporary Writers about the tone of the novel states that:
15 16

Sage, Lorna. Contemporary Writers. London: Methuen, 1983 Ogan, Nicholas. Critical Paper. 2006

“The tone is reluctantly ironic: Anna and her friend Molly are women escaped from marriage, bringing up children alone, but hardly ‘free’ from men (their friendship consists partly of supporting each other in the face of repeated disappointment)”.(Lorna Sage) 17 B: Setting: In terms of the setting, it is hard to recognize one stable setting of the story because of the structure of the novel. That is t say that the novel contains four different books. “Black one (of Anna's experiences in Central Africa, before and during WWII, which inspired her own bestselling novel). Red one (it tells her experiences as a member of the Communist Party). Yellow (an ongoing novel that is being written based on the painful ending of Anna's own love affair). Blue (Anna's personal journal where she records her memories, dreams, and emotional life)”18 C: Characters: In term of the characters in the novel, The Golden Notebook explores on Anna and Molly sexual and political experiences with their ex-lovers and husbands. In addition, there is Tommy the son of Molly and Martha that she was a part of the communist party. The main character in the novel is Anna and talks about her past and nostalgia to her past. Anna has divided herself into numerous characters to tell us about her past. Lorna Sage in 1983, in her book Contemporary Writers Dories Lessing, she states that:
“The new heroine, Anna Wulf, shares some of Martha’s experience (she lived in Rhodesia during the war, and was apart of a communist group), but she has no past to speak of. Instead she is caught in a hall of mirrors: …. Anna has divided herself up this way, we are told, in order to register her chaos, and stave it off.”19

Sage, Lorna. Contemporary Writers. London: Methuen, 1983 19 Sage, Lorna. Contemporary Writers. London: Methuen, 1983
17 18

3: Themes: In terms of themes, Doris Lessing deals with several themes in The Golden Notebook. The book explore mental and social breakdown of the author. The structure somehow mirrors the confusion of the narrator’s life, but the effect is to make the book something of a hodgepodge. Each notebook reveals or discusses many themes in sessions of free women. Those notebooks have a special colour for each namely: Red, Black, Yellow, and Blue

Breakdown: Lessing explores the mental and social breakdown in The Golden Notebook. In one hand, she was influenced by the communist party and in other hand; she was unable to go forward in her love affairs. Lorna states in 1983; in her book Contemporary Writers Dories Lessing that:
“Breakdown become a positive value in her writing, an authentic response to what William tactfully calls ‘a period of exceptional growth’—the period when, for her as for many who left the communist party, history was suddenly structureless.”20

Free women: Lessing explores the notion of freedom (hardly free) in the

Golden Notebook. Lessing has divided the theme of free women into many sections. Sage in her book Contemporary Writers Dories Lessing states that:
“In the second section of ‘Free Women’ has Anna trying to talk sanity to Molly’s sick and hysterical adolescent son Tommy, and failing. He’s eavesdropped on her notebook, and knows she’s lying: ‘If things are a chaos, then that’s what they are’ (GN, p.28)… This is the central event of ‘Free Women’, and, for its vividness, it is a measure of how far Anna’s wretchedness is displaced to make a public plot about the failure of idealism”21

Black: Lessing in her book and namely in the Black notebook talks about her experience in Africa she writes Frontiers of War in the Black notebook. Sage in 1983 states that
“In the Black notebook she convicts herself of having meretriciously written up about Africa in ‘Frontiers of War’ it is not just that the novel – a ‘colour bar’ romance about a British airman and an African girl …, bred out of the war, and out of the impossibility of really imagining change in the colony.”22

Yellow: Lessing talks about her private sexual life and especially her

painful love affairs. In the Yellow notebook, she explores her demoralized love affairs with several Men. Sage states in her book Contemporary Writers Dories Lessing in 1983 that
Sage, Lorna. Contemporary Writers. London: Methuen, 1983 Ibid 22 Sage, Lorna. Contemporary Writers. London: Methuen, 1983
20 21

“The most damaging and demoralizing split is the sexual one, worked out by Anna in the fiction-within-a-fiction of Ella and Paul in the Yellow Notebook.”(ibid) • Blue: In the Blue notebook is where Anna records her memories, dreams, and emotional life considered as her personal journal. Sage states that
“This project seeps, as it were, back into Anna’s life. In the Blue Notebook she remembers having said to Mrs Marks that instead of assimilating her experience to the communality of myth (another fake refuge) she should be on the lookout for anomalies.”23

• Red: In the Red notebook, Lessing discusses her integration in the communist party fantasies and her attraction toward Stalinism thought. Sage states
“The Red Notebook shows the communist party in the same hard focus, buoyed up in its statutory Stalinism by self-censorship and jokes. And again she’s brought back to the brink of meaninglessness”24

The Golden Notebook as a Post-Modern novel: In this section I would explore the characteristics of The Golden Notebook in relation to the Post-Modern thought, and how Doris Lessing manages to present the book as a Post-Modern novel. The Golden Notebook as a novel is characterised by many Post-Modernistic characteristics. Those characteristics are in terms of the structure, in terms of the style and in terms of the themes of the book.

23 24

The Subject use in Post-Modern Writing:

Ibid Ibid

“Postmodernism posits a centerless, dispersed subject who is literally a composite of various socially and culturally constructed roles or positions–not perspectives – that cannot be reconciled”25 Lorna Sage in 1983 explores the characteristics of Golden Notebook; in her book Contemporary Writers, she stated that:
“The Golden Notebook was a momentous book – a book of its moment, opened to subcultural imperatives which the realist perspective had structured and suppressed. Because Lessing had found a form that so exactly focused he struggles with/against realism, it was a novel that persuaded its readers of the limitations of that shared language more painfully, and even perhaps more intimately, tan French new novels, or than antirealist writing from America.”26

Women Identity in Literature and Society “Many writers who comment as a group or on female identity in
general assume women take up a dual position in the definitions given by dominant forces; id est they are both part of culture in general and part of women culture in particular. According to Gerda Lerner this accounts for an explanation for the fact that women can be both victims and upholders of the status quo. “[W]omen writers as women negotiate with divided loyalties and doubled consciousnesses, both within and without a social and cultural agreement. This, in conjunction with the psychosexual oscillation, has implications for “sentence” and “sequence”- for language, ideology and narrative”. This approach is not mutually exclusive with other definition, but it offers one way of seeing a group that is at least partially marginal or excluded from the dominant system of meaning and values.” 27

In this quotation

Women narrative
“Eventually Marry Carmichael produces a women’s sentence: this sentence gives access to the consciousness of a woman and it elicits a

25 26 27

Georgescu, Anca. Self as narrative in Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook. Sage, Lorna. Contemporary Writers. London: Methuen, 1983

Van Butsel, Sara. Women’s Writing and Writing about Women: Analysis of The Golden Notebook by Dories Lessing. Ghent University, 2009

dissent opinion on that same consciousness, previously embedded in “discourses of dominance” .Women’s mind and concerns have never been accurately portrayed in literature, and “breaking the sentence” is a way of radically changing language and tradition to allow a female point of view. A women’s sentence is Woolf’s definition of “a writing unafraid of gender as an issue, undeferential to male judgment while not unaware of the complex relations between male and female. A women’s sentence will thus be constructed in considered indifference to the fact that the writer’s vision is seen as peculiar, incompetent, marginal (Duplessis, 1985). Consequently Marry Carmichael’s first lesson, as Woolf states, is that she writes as a woman, but as a woman who has forgotten she is a woman. This double emphasis is significant strategy, claiming freedom from the tyranny of sex”28

She adds:
“The feminist writers then were not important on an artistic level but rather in their insistence on self-development and defining the female identity; they represented a “declaration of independence” in the female tradition. They opened up new possibilities, such as the right to use sexual vocabulary as men do; they questioned the monopoly of male publishers and establishment and advocate to be freed of patriarchal commercialism”29


Van Butsel, Sara. Women’s Writing and Writing about Women: Analysis of The Golden Notebook by Dories Lessing. Ghent University, 2009 29 Ibid