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Abstract

This essay argues for a fuller recognition of the key transitional status of The Four-Gated City (1969) in Doris Lessing’s career. As an attempt to recalibrate the basic coordinates of the realist inheritance, the novel develops a strongly spatial narrative mode that coincides with a desire to write a utopian collective. This is confirmed both by previously unstudied draft material for Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971) and the published texts that followed. However, in The Four-Gated City this attempt to break from the destructive globalization of the postwar era becomes deeply problematic through its handling of history and time. Examining this struggle in Lessing’s writing can shed light on how the interplay of space and time informs the intertwined histories of realism and modernism in twentieth-century fiction, and on how Lessing’s work contributes to current debates about possible futures for the novel.

DOI

10.1215/0041462X-9084315

Publication Date

2018-12-29

Publication Title

Twentieth-Century Literature

Volume

67

Issue

2

First Page

139

Last Page

162

ISSN

0041-462X

Embargo Period

2021-06-18

Organisational Unit

School of Society and Culture

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