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Doris Lessing and the Forming of History$
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Kevin Brazil, David Sergeant, and Tom Sperlinger

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474414432

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414432.001.0001

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Lessing and Time Travel

Lessing and Time Travel

(p.128) Chapter 9 Lessing and Time Travel
Doris Lessing and the Forming of History

David Punter

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter focuses on Lessing’s The Memoirs of a Survivor (1974), with the science-fiction novels Shikasta (1979) and The Marriages between Zones Three, Four and Five (1980), in order to assess her involvement with the future, which underlies all her work. Lessing is constantly involved with thinking the future – with, we might say, how the future presents itself, how it irrupts into the present, destabilising our assumptions, always making the present different from how we might expect it to be. We see something of this in Lessing’s remarks on science fiction, or ‘space fiction’ as she also terms it, exploiting a productive ambiguity in the word ‘space’ – as she considers not only the ‘outer’ space of both realism and conventional science-fiction, but what might happen to our understanding of space, spatiality, as we extend ourselves into the imagined, predicted, unpredictable, preordained future. What shall we remember? Or, what shall we ‘re-member’, in the sense of putting back together the shards and fragments of history? The chapter concludes by questioning whether this notion of accommodating the future, which we might refer to as a variant of time travel, has to do with telepathy, a concept to which Lessing was greatly attracted.

Keywords:   Doris Lessing, Jacques Derrida, temporality, The Memoirs of a Survivor

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