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Golden Notebook, The

a novel by Doris Lessing, published in 1962. Anna Wulf, a writer who has not published anything for some years, lives alone with her young daughter, surviving on the proceeds of her successful first novel, which she now condemns as a work of nostalgia. Five sections ironically entitled ‘Free Women’ present Anna and her close friend Molly in the third person, while the bulk of the book is taken from Anna's four notebooks, in which she writes about her self (as the younger woman in Africa, as the writer, the mother, the psychoanalyst's patient, the lover, the disenchanted communist) in various ways (memoir, political discussion, fiction, parody, daily record-keeping). She uses the notebooks to compartmentalize her experience, convinced for much of the book that it is impossible to write the whole truth and impossible to be whole. Finally, a period of breakdown, seen through the several mirrors of the notebooks and the ‘Free Women’ narrative, leads to a new creative purpose. In a new, golden notebook she writes the first sentence of her departing lover's novel, and he dictates the first sentence of hers, which is of course the first of this book. The conventional narrative ends as it began with Anna and Molly talking, amused and newly practical. Probably Lessing's best-known work, it is her most ambitious attempt to encompass the modern experience of fragmentation and impending destruction, and the three totems of communism, psychoanalysis, and feminism.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Ellen Gilchrist Biography to Grain