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The grass is singing von Doris Lessing
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The grass is singing (Original 1950; 1973. Auflage)

von Doris Lessing

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
1,974696,445 (3.93)325
S drhodesien in den 30er/40er Jahren: Mary Turner ist ungl cklich mit einem armen Farmer im S dafrika der 40er Jahre verheiratet. Sie verliebt sich in ihren schwarzen Diener, den sie jedoch grausam behandelt..
Mitglied:knizhki
Titel:The grass is singing
Autoren:Doris Lessing
Info:London, Heinemann Educational, 1973.
Sammlungen:Gelesen, aber nicht im Besitz
Bewertung:
Tags:Keine

Werk-Informationen

Afrikanische Tragödie von Doris Lessing (1950)

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The first book I have read by Doris Lessing, and the first one she had published. It's set in Rhodesia in colonial times and begins with the murder of a white farmer's wife by her black servant. So the rest of the book fills in what happens up to that point.

Dick and Mary live in terrible poverty on the farm and the book is good on how this puts them at odds with the other white farmers in the area, but who still close ranks to protect them. There are fantastic descriptions of the heat and the landscape. Mary is a peculiar character, childlike and proud, unable to accept help or friendship, mean to the servants.

The problem for me is that I just don't get the murder. It makes no sense, there's no motive, the book builds up to this moment (after starting with it) but why? None of the black characters are really given much depth at all in fact, so while I can imagine this book was seen as progressive at time of writing it doesn't feel it now. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Dec 6, 2020 |
Two stars for being painful to read, not for being poor-quality (which it isn't).

I'd previously read one other book by Doris Lessing, The Good Terrorist, and despite being written 35 years apart they share the same writing style. Both are unrelentingly bleak, with miserable and pathetic characters who nonetheless feel extremely believable in their hopelessness. You get the sense that Lessing might not have been the kind of person you'd want to befriend, with an eagerness to identify people's every personal failing and crucify them at length for it. She has a talent for it, of course, and in the case of The Grass is Singing the end result is a sharp criticism of the racist, nasty society of Southern Rhodesia. It's still not pleasant to read.

The central characters of this book are Mary Turner and her husband, Dick. After a miserable rural childhood, Mary spent her young adult years "in town", making good money in an office and filling her free time with parties, sports, social engagements, and so on. However, as she reached her mid-thirties she realised that her “friends” were all mocking her behind her back for her dress sense and lack of romantic entanglements, and so she cast about for a husband, any husband. She happened upon Dick, a poverty-stricken farmer, and after the most dire courtship of all time they married and she moved to his farm.

There, Mary goes stir-crazy in a ramshackle house that offers little protection from the heat and too far away to enable much social interaction with other white people – just their neighbours, the Slatters, who Mary snubs at every opportunity because she's embarrassed by her poverty. Of course, she's also ashamed of her husband, who she sees as a failure, and vicious towards all their African workers, because she's convinced of their inferiority in relation to her and wants to make sure they know it.

This book reminds me a lot of Coonardoo, which was also written by a white, female socialist from a brutally racist settler-colonial society (in the case of Coonardoo, it takes place on a remote station in outback West Australia). In particular, both books share the same major flaw: despite the fact that they were written as rebukes of racism, the black characters are all so poorly and weakly depicted. They are not given clear motivations and complicated inner lives the way that all the white characters are; they're left as vague ciphers, ready to morph into plot devices whenever the author requires it. I know that these books were written decades ago, and were important works in their time. However, if you were to ask me whether these works are still relevant today, my answer would have to be probably not. There have to be so many better critiques of colonialism and racism, ones that don't fall into racist tropes themselves (and probably ones written by those who actually experience racism, although I do think it's important for the racially privileged to criticise it as well). Like, The Grass is Singing is bookended by a murder which never has its motive explained – apparently we're just supposed to assume Africans do things like that, sometimes, randomly, because they resent their oppression. It's the kind of ridiculous leap of logic that we'd never be expected to make for a white character.

So overall, I dunno. While I can see why Lessing is so heralded as an author, I don't think her work is to my tastes and this book in particular made me uneasy. I also think it's weird that the blurb describes it as set in South Africa when it's not – was the publishing house really that ignorant, or did they assume their customers were? It's true that Ian Smith's illegitimate regime was very similar to South Africa's apartheid government, and critics of one tended to find themselves banned from the other as well (as happened to Lessing herself in 1956). They still weren't actually the same country, though. But regardless… significant as this book may be, it is flawed and not particularly enjoyable, so while you can read it if you want, I wouldn't suggest making it a high priority. ( )
  Jayeless | May 27, 2020 |
Read 2017. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 11, 2020 |
It started off well and I thought, "Oh yay, it'll be a crisp modern novel with well rendered characters that explores racism and colonization".

Things quickly took a turn for the worse. Lessing appears to despise every single character and makes the reader grind through relentless hating on them and dragging everyone into the dirt. Their psychiatric distress is not particularly interesting and is highly repetitive.

While it isn't explicit message, It's almost as if the racism exhibited by the characters is ultimately being attributed to character flaws instead of personal and social choices.

I won't say the book is without merit, but I can do without the mega-dose of negativity and pessimism.
( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
Read for Reading 1001, this is my very first Doris Lessing novel and it is the author's debut novel. Published in 1950, this novel of realism was ahead of its time. The tragic story of Dick and Mary, poor trash according to white supremacy standards, farming a piece of Africa (Rhodesia), but never succeeding, always waiting for next year. Mary never really developed any ability to relate to others. She was described as happy as a town girl. She barely grieved for the loss of her parents and was completely okay with her life as a single woman working in an office. You would think she was a feminist but she is not. She is a woman who has no feelings toward other people, thinks her life is full until she overhears a conversation that enlightens her in how others perceive her. Even that, Mary doesn't fully understand. It's like she really has no social adeptness at all. Mary then drives herself to marry tho it is really the last thing she wants, ends up back in the bush which is also something she never wanted. Mary doesn't understand society, she fears the natives and thinks of them as animals. The author is able to describe the beauty of Africa and also the difficulties of the climate. It is an intense psychological look at the deterioration of two lives, as well as an exploration of the ideology of white supremacy. A remarkable story, written by a white African author of her generation, that explores the cruelty of colonialism, racism and sexual hypocrisy.

The epigram from The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot really outlines this novel.

"In this decayed hole among the mountains
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled graves...

The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder." ( )
  Kristelh | Jan 19, 2020 |
keine Rezensionen | Rezension hinzufügen

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen (29 möglich)

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Doris LessingHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Borbás, MáriaÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Hökby, BertilÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Hökby, GunvorÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Kampen, Paul vanÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Lange-Nielsen, SisselNachwortCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Nová, SoňaÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Sander, ErnstÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Saracino, Maria AntoniettaÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Verhoeven, WilNachwortCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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Epigraph (Motto/Zitat)
Die Informationen stammen von der englischen "Wissenswertes"-Seite. Ändern, um den Eintrag der eigenen Sprache anzupassen.
It is by the failures and misfits of a
civilization that one can best judge its
weaknesses.
-- Author unknown
In this decayed hole among the mountains
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,
Dry bones can harm no one.
Only a cock stood on the rooftree
Co co rico, co co rico
In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
Bringing rain

Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder

-- from The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot
with grateful acknowledgements to the
author and to Messrs Faber & Faber
Widmung
Die Informationen stammen von der englischen "Wissenswertes"-Seite. Ändern, um den Eintrag der eigenen Sprache anzupassen.
To
Mrs GLADYS MAASDORP
of Southern Rhodesia
for whom I feel the greatest
affection and admiration
Erste Worte
Gestern morgen wurde Mary Turner, die Frau des Farmers Richard Turner in Ngesi, auf der vorderen Veranda ihres Wohnhauses ermordet aufgefunden.
Zitate
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S drhodesien in den 30er/40er Jahren: Mary Turner ist ungl cklich mit einem armen Farmer im S dafrika der 40er Jahre verheiratet. Sie verliebt sich in ihren schwarzen Diener, den sie jedoch grausam behandelt..

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