the virtual journal of Celia Gray

Thursday, April 12, 2007


On Finishing the "Notebook"

I finished The Golden Notebook. It had quite a hothouse atmosphere. On the whole, I think I prefer Miss Lessing's fairly recent book of short stories, The Real Thing, which shimmer in the mind as absolutely lucid and clear. Those stories show pure mastery of the form.

Characteristically of Lessing, Notebook methodically analyzes the emotional movements in the conversations of its principals, rather like stripped-down Henry James. Each interchange is presented play-by-play, like a sports match.

I can't say that the "free women" presented were particularly free, as they spent a good deal of their time entangled with gentlemen who were otherwise engaged. And there was a good deal of theorizing about "real women" and "real men" which smacked of (the annoying side of) D.H. Lawrence, and perhaps even of Ayn Rand.

But this is carping. Did the novel absorb me? Yes. And why hadn't I read it before? I suppose I thought it of my mother's era; when the book first came out, I was only a girl. To my knowledge, Mother never did read it; but since she was married to a man she adored, it wouldn't have been her dish of tea.