From Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the sequel to one of her most celebrated novels, ‘The Fifth Child’.
‘The Fifth Child’, Doris Lessing’s 1988 novel, made a powerful impact on publication. Its account of idyllic marital and parental bliss shattered by the arrival of the feral fifth child of the Lovatts made for unnerving and compulsive reading. That child, Ben, is the central character of this sequel, which picks up the fable at the end of his childhood and takes our primal, misunderstood, maladjusted teenager out into the world. He meets mostly with mockery, fear and incomprehension, but with just enough kindness and openness to keep him afloat as his adventures take him from London to the south of France and on to South America in his restless quest for community, companionship and peace.
Lessing employs a plain, unadorned prose fit for fables; again, we have a childlike perspective at the heart of the book; again, the world in all its malevolence and misapprehension swirls around at the edge, while, occasionally, a strong character steps forward to try to set a good example.
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Described as "one of the world's great living writers', Doris Lessing's fiction continues to compel, and surprise, her readers. In the context of Lessing's writing career, the tale of Ben, in the World, the sequel to Lessing's powerful The Fifth Child (1988), is a long, and complex, one. It goes back (at least) to 1957, and the appearance of her short story, "The eye of God in paradise" (included in The Habit of Loving). That story includes the description of a child, "a desperate, wild, suffering little creature", who bites if you get close to him. That child haunts both Mary Parrish (the protagonist of the story) and, it seems, Doris Lessing. She returns to him in The Fifth Child, a short novel dedicated to the problem of how to tell the difference of "Ben": the fifth child born to an idyllic middle-class family. Who, or what, is Ben? Beast, goblin, throwback, alien, or a "normal healthy fine baby"? Wrestling with that question--the ethical difficulty posed by the appearance of difference at the heart of "normal" life-- The Fifth Child allows for a hesitation in knowing what, or how, to think about Ben. Ben, in the World pursues the theme, but with far more certainty. Now eighteen, but looking thirty-five, Ben is estranged from his family, forced to find his way in a basically hostile world: "And Ben left: he had no home in this world." By now, Lessing knows him well; the narrative voice constantly intervenes to direct the reader's response to Ben, to the people who surround him and his (sometimes unlikely) experiences in Europe and South America. The misery, and alienation, of Ben's life remains Lessing's preoccupation, offset only by the friendship of the odd individuals she depicts so skilfully--and, finally, the waywardness of Ben's quest to find people like himself. Vicky LebeauReview:
‘A wonderful novel, flawless as a black pearl.’ Daily Mail
‘Outstanding…A tour de force that poses stark questions about modern-day Britain and what it is to be human.’ Sunday Times
‘“Ben, In the World” is huge in scope, humanity and pathos. Lessing created a monster; her triumph is that he not only personifies the human yearning to belong, but that we also come to love him.’ Shena Mackay, Daily Telegraph
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Book Description Flamingo, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Dispatched, from the UK, within 48 hours of ordering. This book is in Brand New condition. Bookseller Inventory # CHL1734096
Book Description 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 130mm x 197mm x 13mm. Paperback. Many will recall the powerful impact The Fifth Child, Doris Lessing's 1988 novel, made on publication. Its account of idyllic marital and parental bliss irredeemably shattered by the arriv.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 192 pages. 0.135. Bookseller Inventory # 9780006552291
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, 2001. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from UK in 4 to 14 days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # FC-9780006552291
Book Description HARPER COLLINS, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: NEW. 9780006552291 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Bookseller Inventory # HTANDREE0983828
Book Description Flamingo, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 192 pages. This item is printed on demand. Bookseller Inventory # zk0006552293
Book Description Flamingo, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0006552293
Book Description 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 130mm x 197mm x 13mm. Paperback. Many will recall the powerful impact The Fifth Child, Doris Lessing's 1988 novel, made on publication. Its account of idyllic marital and parental bliss irredeemably shattered.Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 192 pages. 0.135. Bookseller Inventory # 9780006552291