The Cleft

The Cleft 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 rivalries a society free from men An ol

  • Title: The Cleft
  • Author: Doris Lessing
  • ISBN: 9780007233434
  • Page: 484
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 rivalries a society free from men An old Roman senator, contemplative at his late stage of life, embarks on what will likely be his last endeavour the retelling of the story of human creation He recounts the hiDoris 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 rivalries a society free from men An old Roman senator, contemplative at his late stage of life, embarks on what will likely be his last endeavour the retelling of the story of human creation He recounts the history of the Clefts, an ancient community of women living in an Edenic, coastal wilderness, confined within the valley of an overshadowing mountain The Clefts have no need nor knowledge of men childbirth is controlled, like the tides that lap around their feet, through the cycles of the moon, and their children are always female But with the unheralded birth of a strange, new child a boy the harmony of their community is suddenly thrown into jeopardy At first, in their ignorance, the Clefts are awestruck by this seemingly malformed child, but as and of these threateningly unfamiliar males appear, now unfavourably nicknamed Squirts, they are rejected, and are exposed on the nearby mountainside sacrificed to the patrolling eagles overhead, the sentinels of their female haven Unbeknownst to the Clefts, however, these baby males survive, aided by the very eagles sent to kill them, and thrive on their own on the other side of the mountain It is not until an unusually curious young Cleft named Maire goes beyond the geographical, and emotional, divide of the mountain that this disquieting fact is uncovered a discovery that forces the Clefts to accept and realign themselves to the prospect of a now shared world, and the possible vengeance of the wronged males In this fascinating and beguiling novel, Lessing confronts head on the themes that inspired much of her early writing how men and women, two similar and yet thoroughly distinct creatures, manage to live side by side in the world, and how the specifics of gender affect every aspect of our existence.

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    About “Doris Lessing

    • Doris Lessing

      Both of her parents were British her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia her mother had been a nurse In 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, the family moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia now Zimbabwe Like other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school such as Olive Schreiner and Nadine Gordimer , Lessing made herself into a self educated intellectual In 1937 she moved to Salisbury, where she worked as a telephone operator for a year At nineteen, she married Frank Wisdom, and had two children A few years later, feeling trapped in a persona that she feared would destroy her, she left her family, remaining in Salisbury Soon she was drawn to the like minded members of the Left Book Club, a group of Communists who read everything, and who did not think it remarkable to read Gottfried Lessing was a central member of the group shortly after she joined, they married and had a son.During the postwar years, Lessing became increasingly disillusioned with the Communist movement, which she left altogether in 1954 By 1949, Lessing had moved to London with her young son That year, she also published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, and began her career as a professional writer.In June 1995 she received an Honorary Degree from Harvard University Also in 1995, she visited South Africa to see her daughter and grandchildren, and to promote her autobiography It was her first visit since being forcibly removed in 1956 for her political views Ironically, she is welcomed now as a writer acclaimed for the very topics for which she was banished 40 years ago.In 2001 she was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in Literature, one of Spain s most important distinctions, for her brilliant literary works in defense of freedom and Third World causes She also received the David Cohen British Literature Prize She was on the shortlist for the first Man Booker International Prize in 2005 In 2007 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature Extracted from the pamphlet A Reader s Guide to The Golden Notebook Under My Skin, HarperPerennial, 1995 Full text available on dorislessing.

    683 thoughts on “The Cleft

    • Χρόνια τώρα αναρωτιέμαι ποιός ψυχαναγκασμός μου επιβάλλει να τελειώνω οποιοδήποτε βιβλίο ξεκινάω, ΑΚΟΜΑ ΚΑΙ ΑΝ ΑΥΤΟ ΤΟ ΒΙΒΛΙΟ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΑΠΙΣΤΕΥΤΑ ΒΑΡΕΤΟ, σε κάνει να νιώθεις ότι σπαταλάς τον χρόνο σου ενώ εκεί έξω υπάρχουν τόσα άλλα βιβλία που αξίζουν την προσοχή σου. Να είναι [...]


    • Now! What is it about all these terrible ratings? Accusations of sexism? Of the text lacking quality/being boring? I can identify so little with previous reviews of this work that I made it a point to write a review for this one. I had never read Lessing before and when I read the synopsis for this one I knew that it was just meant to be. It is definitely not what I had expected – I had hoped it would be a cleverer version of Herland, maybe. It does share certain similarities with Gilman’s [...]


    • I did not finish this book. In fact I could not. It was my taste as a consumer of books that prohibited me.Oh sure, I've set aside books before. I've even set aside books with no intention of continuing them in the future. But never with as adamant a certainty that I would never again pick up the book in order to give it a second chance.Some may question my ability to judge a book based only on a partial reading, which is fair, but trust me: this book is Bad.Doris Lessing's The Cleft may actuall [...]


    • A Review…and a Few QuestionsIn June, 1992, Doris Lessing wrote an Op-ed for the NY Times entitled, “Questions You Should Never Ask a Writer.” The questions that Lessing especially does not want to hear are, “What is the story really about? What does it mean?” In other words, we must take her stories at face value and see them as just that – works of her imagination, nothing more.After finishing “The Cleft,” however, it seems impossible not to ask those questions. On the surface, [...]


    • To the Nobel Prize for Literature committee of 2007: what were you smoking?I read “The Cleft” on a flight from Sydney to San Francisco. One hour into the flight, we encountered turbulence and it didn’t abate for the next couple of hours. The movie (singular, because this was a United-breaks-guitars flight) was crap. I was trapped in my seat by the fasten seatbelts sign, and in any case even the flight crew had hit the deck in crouched position. I was 70 pages into “The Cleft” when the [...]


    • I think it was the idea of the book that kept me reading it.I was spurred on by my own curiosity about the premise more than the actual story that was told.


    • An interesting alternative view to evolution, but at its heart it was "Men are From Mars Women are from Venus" meets "The Lord of the Flies". A quick read that seems to drive home the differences between the sexes, sometimes annoyingly so. I enjoyed the narrator's viewpoint as a male in the Roman society illustrating, in a much less hit-you-upside-the-head style, that the differences remain. And of course as a modern reader it causes one to consider that if not much changed between Paleolithic a [...]


    • I expected to whip through this book but found that I needed to read it a little slower to absorb what the author was trying to convey. I almost didn’t finish it. Around page 160, I was completely frustrated on how the book was written and decided to read some reviews to help clarify what the author was trying to do. Well, I’m glad I did! It changed my whole attitude. After one review, I realized how brilliant the author was by how realistically portraying how a Roman would have told his sto [...]


    • I should caveat this review by saying that I did not finish this book. While it was an interesting premise (a society entirely comprised of women begins bearing males), its message was very obvious and heavy-handed. It was also very repetitious (the narrators continually define and redefine the terms they use for male and female). I would have enjoyed it much more as a short story as it became wearisome to read, but it did have a lot of interesting suggestions about how groups of people react to [...]


    • i'm surprised this book has such a low rating on . maybe i shouldn't be. lessing's idea here, that women came first, and men evolved later, might be shocking or disgusting to some people. this isn't a 'normal' novel in that there aren't characters, per se, that one follows their development (though lessing does give a few names to key players in her narrative). the story is told by a roman historian who is sifting through documents, trying to make a cohesive story of the beginning of humans. wom [...]


    • I liked the unusual, story-telling, almost biblical style of this story. You have the feeling that you are sitting near the chimney at a time when tv, radio and the internet did not exist and that you are listening to a story told by a wise elder.I also liked Doris Lessing's observation of the human nature, the description of women that "are" and men that "do", of women that give and care about life and men that are restless and seek to discover and conquer. The description of this fundamental h [...]



    • Well that was certainly unique. That's probably about the nicest thing I can say about this book. This was my first foray into the writings of Doris Lessing, who I can see has a brilliant skill worthy of all the recognition she's received, so I don't know if this is a typical Lessing book or something completely different.For me the book was just too hard to follow. I didn't find any connective thread linking everything together, no story arc, no real central conflict, no climax, no central char [...]


    • The author takes infanticide, incest, genital mutilation, murder, and rape as a matter-of-fact instinctual course of humanity. I'm sorry, but I just can't continue reading this drivel. Call me a prude if you must. When I saw a picture of a 90-year-old author on the back cover of a nobel-prize-winning novel, I certainly didn't expect such a trashy novel. There is no reason that pre-history novels have to assume that humans started out on this awful course. I like the author's writing style and th [...]


    • I guess when you are nearly ninety and have won awards including the Nobel Prize and written a couple of dozen novels and other works you can write (and publish) whatever you want. This book begins as though it is a parable, but really it's an odd fantasy. The narrator is a Roman senator assessing and amassing an uncertain "history" that purports to account for origins presumably of the Romans or of humans in general. It begins with a society of parthenogenic females. There are few named charact [...]


    • I'm within 80 pages of being done with this book and I just can't bring myself to finish it. The premise sounded so interesting. But the author's generalizations about men and women were almost comicald I don't think that was her intent. Anyway, I give up!!!


    • Actually, I was embarrassed to read this as I revere DL and have enjoyed watching her evolve as a writer. This feels like an old with work to me clumsily written and piecemeal speculations. and no, I couldn't bring myself to finish itoh Doris


    • My first encounter with Doris Lessing. A curious and compelling read, a mythology of the origen of human society.


    • افكار الرواية غريبة وغير متناسقة.توقعت شي وطلع شي ثاني.وضعي حالياً: افكر شلون اكتب رفيو :/


    • I like the idea of this story but I don´t think it was well executed IMO. I felt the author tried to give one impression but did not see it through. It took a while before I found out, that it was a Roman historian that tells the story, I could have used that from the beginning. I guess this was just not for me.


    • فرضية دوريس ليسنغ الخيالية في بداية الذكر و الأنثى ممتعة ، و تعتبر تفسيرا من التفاسير التخييلية المقبولة


    • 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"). That THE CLEFT is both a clever satire of gender roles as well as a thoroughly entertaining book is because of Lessing's talent for humanizing shards of a fictional myth. She does this vis-a-vis an elderly Roman historian who is writing his account of the history of the Clefts. This makes for an interesting, if at times fractured, framing device for [...]


    • Nobel prize winning writer Doris Lessing published an impressive number of novels, short story collections, poetry, plays and works of non-fiction in a writing career spanning nearly sixty years. Her first novel The Grass is Singing (1950) was the only novel of her’s I read prior to The Cleft – and really it couldn’t be more different.The Cleft was picked by one of my two book groups as our February read – I don’t think I realised what I was getting into. So The Cleft is many things bu [...]


    • Aún no leo El cuaderno dorado, pero sí partes de la famosa reseña de Vargas Llosa, que, me parece, hablaba del feminismo en la obra de Lessing. Sin embargo, tanto en El quinto hijo como en El sueño más dulce, la autora toma una actitud más incólume y descriptiva, como si su intención fuese que generemos juicios propios. En La grieta, más bien, ronda un feminismo (adrede) macabro y ambivalente, al dar valores estereoTÍPICOS tanto a las mujeres como a los hombres: las unas son ostráceas [...]


    • I am thoroughly surprised by the other reviews of this book. I thought I had made a bad choice when I read some of them but I loved this book, well, I loved the clever, witty gender politics that ran all the way through it just underneath the story. I couldn't help thinking all the way through that Lessing was poking fun at "the battle of the sexes" while making some very pertinient points about our patriarchal society. I loved the ironic twist that a man was re-writing history but with a kind o [...]


    • What some people have found disturbing and difficult to read, I have found interesting and engaging. Lessing's The Cleft offers the reader an almost non-fiction account of an alternative creation story. Some reviewers on here have argued against lack of characters or direction, but that is precisely the point. It is meant to be read as an historical account. It is the narrator's story (a Roman historian) that becomes the fictionalised character - and whilst I don't find him that interesting, he [...]


    • I assumed that my first encounter with Doris Lessing, especially given this interesting gender thought experiment, would be much more enjoyable. Instead, I wound up skimming the last half of the book. I'd be happy to try some of her other work, but this particular novel was a big miss for me. 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. But the execution was incredibly [...]


    • I expected to find some insights or thoughts of the nature of and differences between men and women, but if there were any I missed them. Nor was the content thought provoking. Starting from the premise that the first humans were women and it was a while before men appeared, you might expect some alternative world view, but instead there was only a run of dull anecdotes suggesting over and over that women are by nature nags and men are foolish. There was no story to speak of and the writing styl [...]


    • This book was ok, but it really didn't do anything for me. Essentially it is a creation story where women are the original humans and can spontaneously conceive, until baby boys start being born. Anyhow, I think the story is supposed to be revolutionary, but it really wasn't. It has a 'Lord of the Flies' feel, but not nearly as good a read. This is the first novel I have ever read by Ms. Lessing. I hope her other books are good, because she won a Nobel for her writing. Personally, this book woul [...]


    • I actually liked the premis of the book but as I was reading it, I found it hard for me to finish.Basically, the book is about the world which the first sex was female and others than that are freaks. Told by a historian from the Roman empire, this book become so boring I barely finish it.I have no experience reading Doris Lessing and this was not an impressive first encounter. I would like to read her short stories though, even if it turns out to be a boring, it will not last long.


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