Doris Lessing, one of England’s finest living novelists, invites us to imagine a mythical society free from sexual intrigue, free from jealousy, free from petty. Sep 2, The premise of Doris Lessing’s new novel-as-creation-myth is that a towering cloven rock used for primitive religious rites: “The Cleft is us. The Cleft, by Doris Lessing. Sex and schism at the dawn of time. By Michael Arditti; Friday 12 January 0 comments.

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A family at war. Over the millenniums, we see the formation of family groupings, the discovery of certain essential emotions, the discoveries of fire and play, the first murder, and, given that families arise, the first nagging wife.

Women and children first

This feels like an old with work to me clumsily written and piecemeal speculations. Elizabeth Bear is the author of “Carnival” and other novels. Sep 02, Wendy rated it it was ok. The real Emily McVeagh [who played bridge all day in her old age] was an educator, who told stories and brought me books. Alan Cheuse is a book commentator for National Public Radio.

He tells the story as a secret history of humanity’s beginnings, as pieced together from scraps of documents and oral histories, passed down through the ages. Has childhood happiness ever produced a Nobel laureate?

Eventually, Cleft meets Squirt, and the rest is prehistory. In having her parents meet but not marry, Lessing suggests that their connection was solely based on adversity. They seem to lack the solidity of women, who seem to be endowed with a natural harmony with the ways of the world Refresh and try again.

Individuals flare into visibility, then fade. Emily, however, is rendered with more ambiguity because she is several women in one, having had an amazingly busy girlhood, full of achievement, a nursing career during which she administered to Alfred, marriage and departure for Persia Iranwhere Lessing and her younger brother dleft born, and where Emily’s life as a social butterfly proves pleasurable, and their move to Dooris where, unable to have her dream of a colonial social whirl, she takes to her bed, suffering the inner ravages of the war that take Lessing years to see.


Feb 23, Cheyenne Blue rated it did not like it Shelves: I’m going to stop before I frustrate us all even further.

Lessing’s ‘The Cleft’ Ponders Origins of Life

In fact, she finds a geographical metaphor in order as she describes, midway through the book, her undertaking.

I liked the premise – a Roman historian telling of beginnings, a time when there were only females, and what transpired when the first male ‘monster’ was unexpectedly born.

Sunday, August 3, I found myself comparing this novel to Kurt Vonnegut ‘s superior Galapagosto which it forms a sort of mirror-image, and hoping throughout that I was simply missing the point and that some justification would emerge “Rashomon”-like from the narrative’s fragments. It is fascinating to see her, at the apex of her career, explore those connections explicitly here.

The narrative’s old-fashioned cadences call to mind many of the authors so central to its plot: Alfred was determined, against his family’s wishes, to become a farmer; we meet Emily at the point of her first defiance – she has told her father she will not, as he wants, go to university but, instead, she will become a nurse at the Royal Free Hospital in London and ‘wipe the bottoms of the poor’.

Which must be the male in me coming out. Read it if you do not want to take for granted the patterns of those relations. Topics Books The Observer. Best to be old yourself to understand. Alfred Tayler and Emily McVeagh are the writer’s parents and this is a book of two halves – the first section is a novelist’s game of might-have-beens: These characters suggest that Ms.


Doris Lessing asks us to imagine the Clefts, a primitive community of women who live in a coastal wilderness, free from the need, knowledge or complication of men.

Over time, two communities develop – one, in the valley, messy and inarticulate and adventurous, the other, in the caves above the sea, placid, dreamy and elemental.

The Cleft by Doris Lessing

The venerated, if reluctant, feminist author Doris Lessing has anticipated critics of her new novel. But the eagles start taking the Monster babies to the forest, where they are breastfed by deer, and evolve into a community of large Squirts. They lived by the sea and were partially aquatic. This makes for an interesting, if at times fractured, framing device for Lessing’s novel proposes a new creation myth, one of a first race of females, the “Clefts”, that give birth to males, “Monsters” later, “Squirts”.

There is little drama, no intrigue, minimal action. My review is very reflective of the book: They hoped to improve their fortunes by farming, but like so many pioneers before them, they coris a rough go of it. The matriarchs of the Clefts, however, feared the “monsters” and decided to try to kill them off.

What is it about all these terrible ratings?