I think my father's rage at the trenches took me over, when I was very young, and has never left me. Do children feel their parents' emotions? Yes, we do, and it is a legacy I could have done without. What is the use of it? It is as if that old war is in my own memory, my own consciousness.
In this extraordinary book, the 2007 Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing explores the lives of her parents, each irrevocably damaged by the Great War. Her father wanted the simple life of an English farmer, but shrapnel almost killed him in the trenches, and thereafter he had to wear a wooden leg. Her mother, Emily, spent the war nursing the wounded in the Royal Free Hospital after her great love, a doctor, drowned in the Channel.
In the fictional first half of Alfred and Emily, Doris Lessing imagines the happier lives her parents might have made for themselves had there been no war; a story that begins with their meeting at a village cricket match outside Colchester. This is followed by a piercing examination of their relationship as it actually was in the shadow of the Great War, of the family's move to Africa, and of the impact of her parents' marriage on a young woman growing up in a strange land.
"Here I still am," says Doris Lessing, "trying to get out from under that monstrous legacy, trying to get free." Triumphantly, with the publication of Alfred and Emily, she has done just that.
About Doris LessingSee more books from this Author
A few shorter, more casual pieces (“Insects,” “Provisions,” Servant Problems,” etc.) don’t add much to what Lessing has written before about Africa, but “My Brother Harry Tayler” gives the author a chance to expatiate on her sibling, her own children and the end of white rule in Rhodesia with an ...Jun 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Alfred and Emily
It's there that Lessing begins - the idyll, Alfred at the crease, 16 years old, a gifted boy among men, Emily watching from the boundary, the long, hot summer of 1902 and all their lives laid out before them.May 10 2008 | Read Full Review of Alfred and Emily
Doris Lessing, however, has decided to rewrite the script in this blend of fiction and memoir, imagining how her parents' lives would have been had they never married and - more significantly - had their generation been spared the First World War.Mar 21 2009 | Read Full Review of Alfred and Emily
ALFRED & EMILY is the moving story of three different lives:.Jan 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Alfred and Emily
Nobel laureate Doris Lessing, author of the 1962 feminist classic The Golden Notebook, struggles to come to terms with the blighted lives of her parents in this innovative "autobiography"—her reputedly final book.Jul 27 2008 | Read Full Review of Alfred and Emily
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