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Publication Date


Publication Title

Doris Lessing Newsletter






7, 9, 10


[First Paragraph] British reviewers had mixed reactions to Shikasta, the first novel in Doris Lessing's new series, "Canopus in Argos: Archives." Favorable and critical comments balanced one another, often within the same review. Furthermore, reactions tended to be extreme: either it was a magnificent novel (Times 11/15/79) or reading it was "a shameful waste of precious and irreplaceable time." (Sun Telegraph 11/18/79); or it was simultaneously great and boring. In general, British reviews of Shikasta were more perceptive than those of the second novel in Lessing's new series, The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five. Because Shikasta has little plot and requires unusual concentration, perhaps its reviewers were forced to read more carefully than those of Marriages (which is, in my opinion, the most delightful and readable of Lessing's novels). Whatever the explanation, I think many of the main issues that Lessing scholars will discuss during the next few years are posited by these reviews. Furthermore, I predict that the superlatives used to praise Shikasta in these reviews will accurately represent the awe and enthusiasm of future readers.


Posted open access with the permission of the publisher.

Original Publication Citation

Bazin, N. T. (1980). British reviews of Shikasta. Doris Lessing Newsletter, 4(2), 7, 9, 10.