Magazine article The Spectator

The Good Gang of Four

Magazine article The Spectator

The Good Gang of Four

Article excerpt

The good gang of four THE STORY OF GENERAL DANN AND MARA's DAUGHTER, GRIOT AND THE SNOW DOG by Doris Lessing Fourth Estate, £15.99, pp. 282, ISBN 0007152809 © £13.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848

On the back cover of this novel I am quoted as calling Doris Lessing 'the most incredible of writers'. No doubt the phrase appeared in a review. Perhaps I did indeed write it, and carelessly did not remark it when reading over the typescript. If so, my fault. It is of course nonsense. What I intended to say was that she is 'the most credible of writers'. She commands belief.

This novel with its long title is a sequel to Mara and Dann, which I haven't read. There are many references back to the earlier novel, but this one is complete, and completely satisfying, in itself. It is so well done, written with such zest, imagination, sympathy and intelligence, that my prejudice against the sort of novel it is was soon disarmed.

It's set in a distant future, perhaps thousands of years ahead. Climate change has taken place. Europe (Yerrup) has long been uninhabitable, experiencing an ice age. Africa (Ifrik) is hot and dry. But the ice has long been melting, the waters are rising, cities lie under the seas, the northern littoral of Ifrik is swampy marshland. The arts of civilisation have long been lost. War is endemic, there are refugees everywhere. Massacres, enslavement, the burning of villages are common experiences.

Lessing does not, however, offer us another dystopia. On the contrary. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.