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Lessing and the Nobel

Doris Lessing pulled up in a black cab where a media horde was waiting Thursday in front of her leafy north London home. Reporters opened the door and told her she had won the Nobel Prize for literature, to which she responded: "Oh Christ! ... I couldn't care less."

Lessing later said she thought the cameras were there to film a television program. Vegetables peeked out from blue plastic bags she carried out of the cab.

"This has been going on for 30 years," she said, as reporters helped her with the bags.

"I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all, the whole lot, OK?" Lessing said, making her way through the crowd. "It's a royal flush."

"I'm sure you'd like some uplifting remarks," she added with a smile.

Lessing, who turns 88 this month, is the oldest winner of the literature prize. Although she is widely celebrated for "The Golden Notebook" and other works, she has received little attention in recent years and has been criticized as strident and eccentric.

Asked repeatedly if she was excited about the award, she held court from her doorstep and noted she had been in the running for the Nobel for decades.

"I can't say I'm overwhelmed with surprise," Lessing said. "I'm 88 years old and they can't give the Nobel to someone who's dead, so I think they were probably thinking they'd probably better give it to me now before I've popped off."

Surrounded by members of the international media in her flower-packed garden, Lessing was dismissive of the Nobel — calling the award process graceless and saying the prize "doesn't mean anything artistically."

She acknowledged the $1.5 million cash award was a lot of money, but still seemed less than thrilled.

"I'm already thinking about all the people who are going to send me begging letters — I can see them lining up now," she said. The phone in her house, audible from the street, rang continuously.

Lessing brightened when a reporter asked whether the Nobel would generate interest in her work.

"I'm very pleased if I get some new readers," she said. "Yes, that's very nice, I hadn't thought of that."

I think I'm in love.

I haven't read any Lessing, and it's not the Nobel Prize that's going to get me to check it out, but rather her delightful disregard for it. She's my hero.



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Oct. 13th, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)
me too!
Oct. 13th, 2007 09:43 am (UTC)
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Oct. 13th, 2007 09:39 am (UTC)
yeah, i suppose it is, though that whole literary establishment thing isn't an argument i much care about.... but she does sound like a cool woman.
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Oct. 13th, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)
you see, i don't think she's bitching and moaning, i just think she realises that awards don't mean a thing. to me, it comes across as a bunch of people coming round saying, you won this, you won this, and she doesn't give a shit. it's not important. yet, when someone mentions readers...
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Oct. 13th, 2007 01:15 pm (UTC)
at eighty eight, i think she should just take the money and laugh, myself. awards just aren't that important, but money is money, y'know?
Oct. 13th, 2007 04:35 am (UTC)
She sounds cool. I'll have to look up her work.
Oct. 13th, 2007 09:42 am (UTC)
i think this is the only nobel winner in years who has interested me... though that said, last year's guy is suppose to be quite good.
Oct. 13th, 2007 07:16 am (UTC)
Embarrassingly, the only thing of Lessing's that I've read are interviews. Never any of her books.

And yet, she's a very versatile writer. The article in yesterday's newspaper (which, interestingly, has the exact same quotes) made a point of mentioning that she even wrote fantasy and SF.
Oct. 13th, 2007 09:42 am (UTC)
yeah, it does seem as if she has a nice breadth. i'll be interested to see if she changed forms and such well.
Oct. 13th, 2007 08:16 am (UTC)
I love The Golden Notebook, but I never read any of her SF.

I can see why she's mad, though, it would be nice if the Nobel people had awarded the prize about 20 years ago, I think most of her really well known books came out in the 60s and 70s.
Oct. 13th, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)
you read anything besides the golden notebook?
Oct. 13th, 2007 10:56 am (UTC)
i've got a few doris's on the shelf.... never managed to finish one though, because she's never managed to capture my attention enough.

didn't she also turn down some kind of british title, saying "THERE IS NO BRITISH EMPIRE" or something. haha a dramatic old dame.
Oct. 13th, 2007 01:16 pm (UTC)
did she turn down being turned into dame doris lessing? a few people have done that, i think. jg ballard did, for example.
Oct. 13th, 2007 01:25 pm (UTC)
yes! it was a DBEeeee in ninety-threeeee.
Oct. 13th, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC)
I read one of her books in school, loathed it, and considered myself spoiled for her forever.

But now I just want to run out and buy all her books. She is awesome, isn't she?
Oct. 13th, 2007 01:16 pm (UTC)
Oct. 13th, 2007 01:36 pm (UTC)
I still think the best quote on the prize came from Marquez when he called the Nobel an international lizard hunt.
Oct. 14th, 2007 06:43 am (UTC)
yeah, that is a good quote, that. i should hunt down the place he said it, read the rest.
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Oct. 14th, 2007 06:44 am (UTC)
yeah, the gore thing is odd to me. but at least it's for gore and the people involved with global warming--gore is just their figure head.

hey, which lessing should i start with?
Nov. 2nd, 2007 11:13 am (UTC)
Start with
Nov. 2nd, 2007 11:14 am (UTC)
Start with "Memoirs of a Survivor." It's a great book.
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Ben Peek

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