Read by Doris Lessing Дорис Лесинг Рада Шарланджиева Online

Кейт Браун е сякаш друго "аз" на авторката. След като 20 години е била примерна съпруга и майка, Кейт Браун е свободна да прекара едно лято пълно с приключения – децата й отлитат от семейното гнездо, съпругът й заминава да работи за няколко месеца в американска болница.Кейт започва работа в международна организация, впуска се в авантюра с по-млад мъж, пътува с него в чужбиКейт Браун е сякаш друго "аз" на авторката. След като 20 години е била примерна съпруга и майка, Кейт Браун е свободна да прекара едно лято пълно с приключения – децата й отлитат от семейното гнездо, съпругът й заминава да работи за няколко месеца в американска болница.Кейт започва работа в международна организация, впуска се в авантюра с по-млад мъж, пътува с него в чужбина, при завръщането си в Англия среща една изключителна жена, чийто чар и свобода на духа я насърчават да търси собствения си Аз. Пътуването към себе си в превала на лятото е тревожно, опустошително, катарзисно...Тя трябва да преоцени своя живот на съпруга, майка, домакиня, да преоцени чувствата си, поривите и надеждите си..."Шедьовър... вероятно най-добрата книга на Дорис Лесинг. Ще изгубите, ако не я прочетете."Икономист"Откровена, проницателна, сериозна."Айриш Таймс"Лятно пътуване към себепознанието с удивителен край – с акт на самоопределяне, което е толкова пълно и точно, че читателят оставя книгата разтърсен, обогатен, благоговеещ."Сънди Таймс"Прозата на Лесинг притежава изразителната сила и бързата, импресионистична лекота, характерна за някои от късните творби на Д. Х. Лорънс. Увлечени сме в порой от силни чувства."Уолтър Клемънс, Нюзуик"Блестящ и сериозен роман, който още веднъж ни напомня до каква степен въображението може да диктува и обогатява преживяванията."Нашънъл Обзървър...

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ISBN : 23278216
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 260 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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  • Samadrita
    2019-02-27 20:20

    Before it all slips away from my feeble psychological grasp, before the after-effects start wearing off, let me write it all out. About the summer before the dark.The first thing that struck me while reading was this - Fuck purple prose. Or red or maroon or magenta prose for that matter. (And I say this in full acknowledgement of the fact that my prose is often closer to purple than any other color.) Screw post-modernism and its deliberate way of being obtuse, obscure, snarky. Screw all that.Because this is it. This is what I want to achieve if I were to attempt writing a stream of consciousness novel some day. This laying bare of all the everyday inner battles a woman wages with her conscience, with society, with those hunters lined up on the sidewalk eyeing her with the interest of a sexual predator as she walks home in that form-fitting dress. Delving this deep into the psyche of a human being who navigates the space of a few months rapidly changing disguises never knowing which of them are closer to her real self, but in prose so beautifully self-evident. The things nobody in the world is bothered about because all of it is so awfully pedestrian. After all, there's nothing remotely tantalizing about an upper class woman having perfunctory sex in a passionless affair or caring for her husband, her children, molding her existence around their schedules. There's barely any appreciation for what she is doing for society at large by playing the forever-at-your-service comfort-giver. The way she is working a thankless job, drifting through life mostly invisible in the eyes of the ones who surround her. This is how Virginia Woolf would have written if she had been alive right now. Because Mrs Kate Brown is nothing but a slightly modified modern day avatar of Clarissa Dalloway or Mrs Ramsay. Her insecurities about her steadily whitening hair and declining sex appeal maybe belittled as a rich white woman's first world problems but pay a little attention to them and you will see how universal and all-encompassing her gripe with patriarchy is. "She marries because to get married young is to prove herself; and then it must be as if she has inside her an organ capable of absorbing and giving off thousands of watts of Love, Attention, Flattery, and this organ has been working at full capacity, but she can't switch the thing off."This is what I can only hope to do some day. Make my words bite, sting and burn those who read them. Force them to ponder upon devoured words for extended periods of time.But does it really deserve 5 stars? Perhaps not, especially in light of the portions where the narrative loses sight of its destination in one of its countless meanderings and gives us the impression that we are trapped in the quagmire of Kate's own inner chaos. But then I am already in awe of Doris Lessing's voice and its power, her way of systematically eviscerating an unequal partnership where the husband is somehow in command of his own life but the wife isn't, her way of cutting open and dissecting motherhood, magnifying each one of its ignored, glossed over aspects for us to see clearly. I love the way this perfectly ordinary Kate Brown with her ordinary name gets under my skin and burrows through my insides, making me so deeply uncomfortable, coercing me into reconsidering my view of the women I have known closely over the years. How elegantly she bridges the gap between the inner and outer worlds of an individual and yet in the simplest of manners! And that, for me, is a 5-star achievement. Disclaimer:-Put down your pitchforks, po-mo & purple prose lovers. I wasn't really being serious in that second paragraph. I love my share of po-mo fiction and purple prose almost as much as you guys do.

  • Cheryl
    2019-03-08 14:25

    The summer before the dark left me wondering what happened the summer after the dark. This seems more like a summer of awakening for Kate, a summer of light and experience, even when she is at her lowest moments. This is unlike Lessing's other novels I've read and I wonder if this could be a good place to start, if you haven't read a Lessing novel, or if it doesn't fully encapsulate her uniqueness as a writer. I'm not sure. On my book jacket, The Economist lists this as a "masterpiece." I can't say I agree; in fact, I vacillated between a 3.5 - 4 star rating. However, I would say that it's an easier Lessing read that follows the conventional novel structure, unlike The Golden Notebook, for instance. It is also a book that toys valiantly with a theme that involves a seal (this I could have done without). The landscape is unlike the usual Lessing novel; different and in some ways, fascinating: London, Turkey, and Spain. Kate is a forty-five-year old housewife who speaks several different languages. When her grown children leave for the summer to travel and her husband heads out on a work mission, she takes a job as a translator. In London, she observes the fancy, yet casual city workplace for the first time, and is pleased that at forty-five, she still looks younger. She also feels needed: her kids felt stifled and her husband had work to accomplish, but her work associates value her intellect. Feeling younger and needed is an intoxicating mix that surprise, surprise, initiates her affair with a younger man. They head to Spain, where she embarks upon another journey of discovery.…friendship in the style of this way of living, casual, nondemanding, tolerant, friendship that was in fact all negation. It did not criticize. It did not make demands. It took no notice of national or racial differences…and it was sexually democratic.One of Lessing's greatest attributes as a writer is her ability to peel apart the layers of female consciousness, the "sense of self kept burning behind so many different phantasms," and place these variations within parallel plot lines, parallel character portraits. There is Mary, Kate's neighbor and the free spirit whose husband and children have accepted her for who she is: a woman who doesn't believe in monogamy. And later, Kate meets Maureen, the younger version of herself; they become friends and during this time, their self-awareness evolve around each other. While Maureen values independence within relationships, Kate finds self in her duties as wife and mother. With three small children, and then four, she had to fight for qualities that had not been even in her vocabulary. Patience. Self-discipline. Self-control. Self-abnegation. Chastity. Adaptability to others - this above all. This always.The underlying expression is one of the effects of change as relates to age - something universal. We often hear anecdotal jokes about change for the middle-aged guy, you know, the sports car thing, but here, Lessing delves into how the conscious processes this pivotal life stage for a woman, the balance of womanhood and motherhood, of marriage and the casual indifference of modern relationships. The novel is both serious and light, with variations that will lure readers with various perspectives.

  • Nelson Zagalo
    2019-02-22 17:15

    Foi o primeiro livro de Lessing que li, depois de ter procurado durante algum tempo por onde começar a ler a autora. As recomendações apontam quase exclusivamente numa direção, “The Golden Notebook” (1962), mas do que ia lendo sobre a obra, ia-me afastando cada vez mais, o que me fez procurar outras obras. O que se seguia era a série de cinco livros, ainda dos anos 1950 e 60, “Children of Violence”, mas não me apetecia iniciar uma série de uma autora que desconhecia, não sendo sequer os livros facilmente acessíveis. Assim cheguei a “O Verão Antes das Trevas”, vinha bem recomendado, e atacava um tópico que me interessava no momento, a crise da meia-idade.“O Verão Antes das Trevas” coloca-nos na figura de espetador de um Verão na vida de Kate Brown. Mulher inglesa, proveniente de famílias abastadas com raízes em Portugal, casada com um médico bem sucedido, 4 filhos, governanta de uma casa nos subúrbios de Londres, cerca de 45 anos. Neste Verão, Kate será convidada a participar num trabalho de tradução simultânea para um grupo de trabalho internacional em Londres, devido à sua fluência em línguas, particularmente o português, enquanto toda a restante família parte de férias. Sozinha, sem ninguém dependente dela, inicia-se o confronto consigo mesma.“All those years were now seeming like a betrayal of what she really was. While her body, her needs, her emotions–all of herself–had been turning like a sunflower after one man, all that time she had been holding in her hands something else, the something precious, offering it in vain to her husband, to her children, to everyone she knew–but it had never been taken, had not been noticed. But this thing she had offered, without knowing she was doing it, which had been ignored by herself and by everyone else, was what was real in her.” Excerto da versão original (p. 140).A escrita de Lessing é perfeita, tal como a estrutura narrativa e a história. Lessing sabe cativar o leitor, apresentar os factos, lançar os eventos, e gerar conflitos, tudo isto é envolvido numa escrita direta que cria proximidade. A história é dotada de todos os ingredientes a que se propõe, levando o leitor pela mão ao longo de todo o percurso. Em parte, tudo é demasiado perfeito. Não raras vezes consegue sentir-se por detrás das linhas, Lessing a coser a obra, a dirigir os cordelinhos da narrativa e história, para nos conduzir, para nos falar ao ouvido, aquilo que verdadeiramente lhe interessa. Não posso dizer que não tenha sentido genuinidade, mas senti por vezes que Lessing estava muito mais interessada no que tinha para dizer, do que na obra que pretendia criar para o expressar.Isto não será alheio ao facto de que muito do que se vai discutindo ao longo das páginas estar ligado a um mundo teórico defendido pela autora, do feminismo à psicanálise, passando pelo marxismo, um trio de conceitos académicos muito em voga à época da escrita do livro, os anos 1970. No entanto, Lessing tinha nesta altura já passado por dois casamentos falhados, abandonado dois filhos pequenos no continente Africano, e criado um terceiro até à idade adulta em Inglaterra, o que não deixa de lhe oferecer uma perspectiva prática imensamente rica.Ou seja, a narração é credível, sente-se que a voz que fala conhece bem os cantos interiores do sentimento naquelas circunstâncias, mas sente-se também a ânsia da autora por transmitir os seus ideais sobre esse mundo. Ainda que no final as questões fiquem em aberto, não exista uma estrada indicada, apenas as questões ficam, cabendo a cada um encontrar-se no meio da sua própria identidade, a meio da idade.

  • Ludmilla
    2019-02-27 21:26

    Arka kapağı okuyunca klasik "kocasını terk ederek mutluluğu genç aşığında bulan ve bunun için cezalandırılan kadın" hikayesi okuyacaksınız sanıyorsunuz ama Lessing bu, o kadar basit olur mu? Bir kadının kendini istemeye istemeye zincirlerinden koparma çabasını izliyoruz, kitabı bana göre etkileyici ve gerçekçi yapan da bu. Normalde bu tarz filmler, kitaplar okurken hep şu olur: Kahramanımız çok isteklidir, çok azimlidir, dış engeller bir şekilde alt edilir ve mutlu son. Aslında insanın içindeki değişime karşı direnme güdüsü, alışkanlıkların rahatlığı ve bir türlü silip atamadığımız sevme/fedakarlık yapma isteği pek işlenmez. Son Aydınlık Yaz'da dış engeller yok, Kate'in Kate'e karşı mücadelesi var, büyük zaferler yok, küçük bir zaferle kapatıyoruz hikayeyi. Hissettiklerimiz yüzünden kendimizi ne sert yargıladığımızı göstermesi ve gerçekçiliğiyle sevdiğim bir kitap oldu Son Aydınlık Yaz. Bu açılardan beğendiğim Ferrante'nin Sen Gittin Gideli'si var bir de. 3.5/5

  • Libbie
    2019-03-18 20:22

    After drudging through page after page of Mrs. Michael Brown's good hair and bad hair, I ask myself the very same words so often uttered by the beautiful, pot-smoking, dancing waif Maureen: "'what's the point?'"

  • Callie
    2019-03-17 20:19

    I deeply admire Doris Lessing. I love that she gives weight to women's lives, thoughts, emotions, opinions, experience. Her novels are treasures in my view. I have to quote some of what she says about motherhood."With three small children, and then four, she had had to fight for qualities that were not even in her vocabulary. Patience. Self discipline, Self control. Self abnegation. Chastity. Adaptability to others--that above all. This always. These virtues, necessary for bringing up a family of four on a restricted income, she did slowly acquire. ...She had been amused by big words for what every mother is expected to become. But virtues? Really? Really virtues? if so, they had turned on her, had become enemies. . seeemed to her that she had acquired not virtues but a form of dementia.""Kate had spent the morning walking slowly up and down up and down that long crammed street, taking in this truth, that the faces and movements of most middle aged women are those of prisoners or slaves. ""She was obssessed from morning till night about management, about organization, about seeing how things ought to go, about the results of not acting like this or of acting like that. That was what all those years of acquiring virtues had led to: She and her contemporaries were machines set for one function, to manage and arrange and adjust and foresee and order and bother and worry and organise. To fuss. ""Her family, she saw now, were quite aware of it. She was being treated by these independent individuals . . .husband, and young people as something that had to be put up with. Mother was an uncertain quantity. She was like an old nurse who had given her years to the family and must now be put up with. The virtues had turned to vices, to the nagging and bullying of other people. An unafraid young creature had been turned, through the long, grinding process of always, always being at other people's beck and call, always having to give out attention to detail, minuscule wants, demands, needs, events, crises, into an obsessed maniac. Obsessed by what was totally unimportant. ""That was how people changed; they didn't change themselves : you got changed by being made to live through something , and then you found yourself changed."Agree with her assessments or not, what I love about her is that she is taking a woman's experience seriously and thinking about it and describing it and trying to be as truthful as she can about what it might mean. She is not laughing it off, or making it into humorous episodes, the hardship and effects of motherhood. She is holding it up to the light and examining it and what she sees is painful but must be said anyway. I look at what she writes and think about my own mother. I think about myself as a mother and I have to reexamine old cliches. I have to take a hard look at what being a mother really means, not just accept what I have been taught or told.

  • Kate
    2019-03-07 15:17

    This book is perhaps too character-driven. (Stop dreaming and go get your hair done, you pathetic old bat!) And yet, I was struck by how much I could relate to Kate Brown--the capable wife/mother who reluctantly embarks on the standard issue midlife crisis, and returns to her London suburb only after an exhausting series of salty pan-Euro adventures. Doris Lessing showers her reader with all imaginable foils of Kate Brown--all, that is, except the one I wanted most to meet: the Kate who had learned to stand up for herself before age 50.

  • Sofía (Софья)
    2019-03-05 15:22

    Дорис Лессинг написала глубокую книгу о смысле жизни. Ага, именно об этом - о том, чего нет :). Так или иначе, в один прекрасный день 45-летняя англичанка из небедной семьи задумалась о смысле своей жизни: дети выросли и заняты своими интересами, муж в постоянных разъездах и с разными любовницами, она домохозяйка. И так ей стало тошно оттого, что она никому из своих близких не нужна, что она решила поискать других, кому бы она могла пригодиться :). Я иронизирую, но иначе я не могу относиться к Кейт Браун, до такой степени это инфантильная особа. Она вроде бы все время занята: моет, чистит, делает покупки, управляет домом; но на деле она подчинена своей семье, она просто удовлетворяет их нужды. Ухватившись за предложение друга семьи, она начинает работать, сначала в Лондоне, потом в Турции, затем она едет с любовником в Испанию, и все это время ей кажется, что её жизнь изменилась. На самом деле все осталось по-старому. Она, как и раньше, не может быть одна, хотя и следовало бы побыть в одиночестве и хорошенько о себе подумать; по-прежнему ищет нуждающихся в ней людей. Ни пребывание в Турции, ни поездка в Испанию, ни измена мужу ничему её не научили, на мой взгляд. И окончание истории вполне закономерно.Писательница ставит очень важные вопросы. Что же в жизни по-настоящему важно? Слабая женщина ищет ответа на этот вопрос у мужчины, который ей кажется сильным. Сильная женщина берет на руки своего "тюленя" и тащит его к океану. Это метафора, которую вы встретите в книге. Я убеждена, что надо узнать самого себя для того, чтобы понять, что для тебя важно. Сделать это можно только в одиночестве, отдалившись от советчиков и манипуляторов. Самое главное в жизни - узнать себя, через знание мы приходим к уважению и любви. Жить для себя - это редкое счастье, и за него нужно бороться не только с обществом, но и с самим собой. С автором мы не совпали, но я не могу не признать, что книга отлично написана, а образы Кейт и её родных абсолютно узнаваемы.Читатели этой книги советуют этот роман взрослым женщинам, тем, кому за 40. Не соглашусь. Женщина взрослая уже прошла через кризис среднего возраста и уже поняла, что с ней происходит. Женщине молодой все это предстоит. Именно ей и нужно прочесть эту книгу: чтобы увидеть своё будущее, чтобы понять как можно раньше, что жизнь одна, что пролетит эта жизнь очень быстро, и может так статься, что в старости останутся одни сожаления. А как прожить жизнь по-настоящему - это вопрос на миллион, и ответы у всех будут разными.

  • Galina
    2019-03-19 13:06

    Дорис Лесинг върна разклатената ми в романа вяра. Силно, прецизно слово, изчистено от излишното и оголено до същината на онова, което наричам истински добра литература."Лятото преди мрака" печели на два фронта. На първо място е фактът, че по много мъжки начин се влиза в женския свят. А това заслужава адмирации, защото поне на прима виста се намираме в ситуация на матриархат - разполагаме с автор - дама и главна героиня, събрала в себе си почти всички основни характеристики на нежния пол. В случая обаче, подходът е важният и уникален ключ към текста - не се сещам за много творци, които успяват за "изцедят" основния си персонаж по начина, по който Лесинг го прави - тя е безкомпромисна спрямо оголването на Кейт и едновременно с това Кейт не е жертва на повествованието, а повествованието е плод на Кейт и реакциите й.На второ място - чудесен пример за това как може хладно, разумно и аналитично да се дълбае в толкова емоционална и сантиментална галактика, каквато е всяка жена, прехвърляща средната възраст. Там, където приоритетно стоят семейните привички, навиците на децата, тлеещите съпружески страсти, преглътнатите изневери, приятелските отношения, личният избор спрямо професионална реализация - там се оказва възможно всички чувства да бъдат картотекирани и старателно подредени на прилежащите им места. И наблюдението, и самонаблюдението на героя са изведени на такова ниво, което малцина пишещи са покрили. За мен "Лятото преди мрака" е от онези образцови примери, че същността на романа не е в ситуациите, които той покрива. Действията, декорите, обстановката - те стоят на заден план, а светлините са насочени към онези вътрешни процеси, които са поднесени подробно и пълнокръвно, при това с точната мярка. Пет звезди без колебание и струва ми се, добре е тази книга да се поглъща бавно, на малки хапки, защото има абзаци, които да се препрочитат и такива, които да се премислят. - Това ли е най-важното? Зрялост и опит?- Ако това е всичко, което има в мен... какво друго да ти кажа? Нищо друго не мога да ти предложа. В живота си не съм извършила подвиг, за да се хваля, а и не знам какво ти смяташ за постижение. Не съм търсила злато в Катманду, не съм се занимавала с благотворителна дейност за стари хора, нито пък съм защитавала дисертация. Само съм отгледала семейство...

  • Fenixbird SandS
    2019-03-03 17:25

    This is wonderful...She (Kate Brown) is 1/4 Portugese married to a lovely Englishman for many years & now at age 45 finds herself suddenly called into active duty as a bona fide Portugese translator...and into a new lifestyle....At Chapter 2 she is embarking on travel to Istanbul, Turkey....I am already amazed at the clever opportunities that this author uses!On the cover of my 1968 printed paperback I found and bought from Bookmans, also The Golden Notebook is also being promoted! I fear the lead character Kate Brown does not have what it takes to ENJOY a midlife affair. She is thrust in the midst of 1 after another obstacle traveling with her new younger part Spanish love interest..currently the "couple" are stranded in the middle of remote Spain & suffering from terrible dysenterrie with high fever he is being cared for by nuns & a Priest with substandard medical care..."Quoting NY Times Reporters on her Nobel literature, "Ms. Lessing’s strongest legacy may be that she inspired a generation...."

  • Jocelyn
    2019-03-20 19:15

    What can I say. Some writers tell, others show; Lessing reinvents you.

  • Speranza
    2019-03-24 17:02

    I can't even force myself to finish this, but me and Lessing are definitely finished.

  • Anukriti
    2019-03-06 18:25

    Drinking Wine is an entire experience. Technically it is just rotten grapes mixed with yeast, but practically, it is much more than that. It is an event to be savoured. Tasting wine involves a series of steps so that one can enjoy it fully. First, you look at it, to evaluate its colour and clarity, then you swirl it, so that aroma is released which enables you to smell it. Older wines have subtler aroma than younger wines. Next, you taste it, you swish it in your mouth, hold it there for five to ten seconds and you swallow it. A good finish lingers on your palate for a long time. Summer Before Dark is a wine made of words, with a spicy aroma and NO, this book will not be favoured by everyone's palate.Kate Brown, a mother living in the suburbs of London, finds herself in an unfamiliar situation: “this was the first time in her life that she was not wanted.” after the departure of her husband and nearly grown-up children for various summer sojourns. Kate spends much of the novel trying to understand personal feelings and the social myths imposed upon her. Throughout the novel, there is a conflict between the personal reality and public facade. The novel can be seen as a commentary on the experience of ageing, particularly by women. Kate makes an interesting journey from a good mother to a sophisticated working woman finally to an invisible old woman.At one level, I was not entirely able to connect with Kate Brown (I am in my early twenties) but at another level, my collective unconscious forced me to make an association with Kate's experiences. Her 'long interior journey' poses many questions for readers, what her life has become, and where has she reached? And also where are we going to reach?Written in the Stream of Consciousness mode, the novel is a difficult read and poses more questions than it answers. It is pretty grim in its treatment of young characters, and the picture of social collapse drawn is terrifying. The most intriguing part of the novel for me was the seal-dream.Overall I enjoyed the book, but I guess it would take a few more years for me to develop the maturity required to understand the subtlety of the novel and appreciate it fully.

  • Kaylie
    2019-03-16 21:07

    For a long time, feminism was considered radical. In fact, many people still think it is. (There, I said it). The term’s connotation has been warped due to media, politicians, the patriarchy, societal expectations, the list goes on. Consequently, it’s no wonder that some believe feminism equates to hating men. While some individual feminists may in fact hate men, there is a difference between being a feminist and a misandrist. By definition, a feminist is a person who believes all people, regardless of gender, should have equal places in society, in the hope of equal opportunity, success, and happiness.Author Doris Lessing is a feminist, and her female characters are the stars of The Summer before the Dark. This book can be read under many perspectives, and it can easily be simplified to a woman with good hair days and bad ones, but it’s so much more. Lessing’s characters are very real as each defies age-old gender roles including protagonist Kate Brown, whose anxiety over both the mundane and existential fills most of the pages, to neighbor Mary who can’t help but cheat on her husband, often forgetting the names of her various partners and yet remains guiltless, to young Maureen who simultaneously seeks stability and freedom from relationships. Happily, their journeys reject standard modes of behavior, and each think, feel, and act in their own accord, finding moments of clarity as they do so.The Summer before the Dark is very character-driven, sometimes resulting in a meandering plot and tedious redundancies. Each woman wants to rebel, and when Kate does, she uncovers her true self, a wanderer persistently stuck in a mother-wife-giver role. She escapes into a detached love affair, experiments with men (even switching from revealing to sagging clothes to see reactions), earns a job, and leaves home. Her quest is selfish, but that’s the point. Nothing is too revolutionary, but Kate’s journey is personally, not socially or politically, driven. For a book written in the early 70s, it’s liberating to read in 2015.

  • Stephen Durrant
    2019-03-03 17:06

    This is my first foray into Doris Lessing, 2007 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (and it confirmed my suspicion that Margaret Atwood is the one who should have won the award). Well, one is supposed to rate a book according to one's own idiosyncratic taste, especially on a semi-private forum like this. Hence, three stars. I do, however, admire the genius of this book, as well as Lessing's strong feminist message ("feminist" does seem something of an oversimplification for the complexity of the ideas Lessing expresses in this novel about women and womens' roles). The Summer Before the Dark is about conventions and rules and the way they erode freedom and spontaneity. According to Lessing--or at least her main woman character Kate Brown--one just concedes to what others have decided you should be, unless, like Mary, one of the background characters in this book, you simply reject all that and live as an eccentric others just can't figure out nor tolerate. This is a disturbing book and makes any sensitive reader wonder what "authenticity" s/he has given up to be a functional, acceptable parent, child, husband, wife, or friend. That being said, the book is slow-going!

  • Jen
    2019-03-08 18:09

    The Summer Before The Dark is a great critique of femininity, marriage and the family as an institution - and a celebration of ideas of freedom, the self and how to live a previously unlived life. The heroine is forty-five.Most books both by and about women are coming-of-age tales with ingenue protagonists. Even supposedly feminist novels tend to reinforce the idea that a woman’s life hinges on her youth and desirability. This book is a coming-of-age tale in its own right, except that it’s an age where women are on the brink of invisibility. But in middle age, Lessing's protagonist is finding her power instead of it diminishing. You don’t know how much you need positive depictions of older female life until you find them. We need more images of the future as continuation instead of as decay.

  • Magdelanye
    2019-03-11 16:05

    Timing is all, and it seems like on first reading I completely missed the richness of the insights recorded in this short book. Skimming through it as a young adult, I could not imagine myself bogged down by such a miasma of self-deception as the narrator slogged her way through in search of her own authentic self.I certainly was never going to allow myself to be blinkered!Suffice to say, now that I am the age of the protagonist,I marvel at her courage and i found myself completely engaged by her process. What I dismissed as tedious analysis I recognize now is a depth of perception that did not appeal to one intent on skimming the bright shallows.Not for everybody then, the existential crises of a genteel lady coming to terms with her life and attempting to place it in context.

  • Hrrostami
    2019-03-13 17:24

    به نظر من که کتابی کسل کننده بود که کشش لازم را نداشت. و از وسطای داستان خواندنش را نیمه تمام گذاشتم

  • Ritu
    2019-03-22 18:06

    I am at a loss for words. I'll be honest - I did not get much of what Doris Lessing was talking about yet - maybe - I feel exactly like she wants me to. Kate is searching. Kate is looking. At herself. At how people perceive her. And it is taking a toll on her. This was something I felt in a refined way after I finished Fire on the Mountain by Anita Desai. Reading Doris is unsettling in a crude way. It's too real. There's no point to it all. There's no storyline meandering to come to a conclusion or a wrapping up of events.This sense of nurturing - of taking care - of being the mother figure - of always smiling smiling smiling - of a sexual object - of attention - of being primed into such roles. Of being a wife and a mother. And what lesson did you take of it? Is there even a lesson at all?Another honest statement - I'm at loss when the author leaves me to decide for myself what in the world is going on. I felt the same when I finished Hills like White Elephants by Hemingway and when I finished Anita Desai and Upamanyu Chatterjee too. Do they not care what should be taken from their stories? I guess I like clear cut stories. Where the intent of the writer can be easily discovered.I kind of like feeling unsettled. I like that I read something I wouldn't have picked out for myself.So what exactly is the seal a symbol of? I don't know. Maybe it signifies the inner struggle Kate has - to come to terms with who she is, perceived by others and by herself. And to make herself more acceptable in her own eyes. Maybe it is the time she has to spend away from her family to know herself. The quiet she wanted.I do understand the importance of Maureen as a character. And the scene when Kate learns of Tim in ill health and is busy on the telephone making arrangements stands out to me in their expectations with each other. The parts about world starvation and the ill fated affair, the reception from the villagers, the indecisive not-so-young man, the character of Mary, the children - Tim particularly, the husband, Ahmed's character; I would love to dissect them one by one, and I am glad I can do that in class. I do wonder if talking about them takes out the magic or adds to it?The writing style is something I haven't read in a while. Of an unattached narrator. The book isn't emotional at all even and especially when describing the emotions. Kate herself is very observant of her actions and reactions. It was different.At the end, I know I can relate the most to Maureen's fear and disgust when she says that she'd rather die than turn into that. But then, as they say, what does it matter?

  • Jaclyn Michelle
    2019-03-16 19:02 SPOILER ALERT: If you’ve never read The Summer Before the Dark, and would like to discover it with no previous knowledge of the plot, I suggest you stop here. Since it was published in 1973, and because Lessing is a NOBEL PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR, I’m writing with the assumption that I’m the one late to the party (which is usually the case) and many of you lovers of literary fiction have probably either read it already or are super familiar with the plot. So, if not, stop. Now. You’ve been warned.“All those years were now seeming like a betrayal of what she really was. While her body, her needs, her emotions–all of herself–had been turning like a sunflower after one man, all that time she had been holding in her hands something else, the something precious, offering it in vain to her husband, to her children, to everyone she knew–but it had never been taken, had not been noticed. But this thing she had offered, without knowing she was doing it, which had been ignored by herself and by everyone else, was what was real in her.” (page 140)The more things change, the more they stay the same.I couldn’t help but call to mind Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899) (which I’m coincidentally currently rereading) as I read Doris Lessing’s The Summer Before the Dark. Though Lessing’s piece takes place in the 1960s, she’s covering familiar territory: Lessing’s heroine Kate Brown has reached a point in her life where she has the chance to figure out who she is, outside of her roles of dutiful wife and nurturing mother. What’s powerful about Lessing’s work is how Kate’s feelings of superfluousness drive the narrative. Kate has done what she’s supposed to: she supported her husband by raising their children, running their home and entertaining their guests. Now her children are grown and her husband is abroad; no one needs her anymore. There is nothing she is supposed to be doing. At a time where she has the unique opportunity to reassert herself and explore her own passions and interests beyond the expectations of others, it becomes clear she doesn’t remember how. As a result, even as she steps away from the confines of the home, she continues to let her life be dictated by the decisions of others. (e.g. a friend of her husband suggests she takes a job as a translator and she does; a handsome stranger she meets in a hotel lobby suggests she accompany him to Spain and she does). Kate may *think* she’s making decisions for herself, but she’s still largely being guided by the whims and needs of those she meets ( Then, midway through the novel, finding herself in the middle of the European equivalent of Hicksville in Spain, she gets sick. Like, debilitatingly, life-threateningly sick. She flees back to London, and spends weeks upon weeks in bed in a crazy-expensive hotel, completely neglecting her appearance and overall cleanliness and health…Kate seems to have completely LOST HER SHIT. (n.b. What I found equally as disturbing as Kate’s transformation was the lack of contact from her family and their general lack of concern for her well-being. They’re all off, doing their own thing, not at all curious as to how she is or what’s she’s been up to. It just struck me as really sad.) By the time she gets out of bed, Kate is emaciated and unkempt, and decides to greet the world as such. Her clothes are falling off of her. Her gray hair has grown in and her red-dye job has faded, and the gray has reclaimed the majority of her hairline. She no longer projects “Mrs. Michael Brown.” She is someone else entirely. She finds herself ignored. Invisible. And she’s fascinated by this experience, by being able to face society as someone other than “herself.” This sensation is the thing that seems to trigger a bit of clarity and productive self-reflection…but then she relapses (growth-wise). Kate, on a whim, decides to rent a room in a flat belonging (??) to 20-something Maureen, who in time comes to stand in for Kate’s daughter Eileen. Kate quickly resumes the maternal role of nurturer during Maureen’s existential crisis of sorts (i.e. SO MANY MEN LOVE ME! WHICH ONE DO I MARRY??? And I’m kind of like, meh, about most of them). And in the interim, Kate comes to the following conclusion:“The mood she was in when she walked in at her front door again would be irrelevant: now that was the point, it was the truth. We spend our lives assessing, balancing, weighing what we think, we feel…it’s all nonsense. Long after an experience which has been experienced as this or that kind of thought, emotion, and judged at the time accordingly–well, it is seen quite differently. That’s what was happening, you think; and what you thought or felt about it at the time seems laughable, jejune.How was her summer out of the family going to seem to her in a year or so’s time? She could be quite certain that it would not seem anything like it did now. So, why bother to assess and weigh, saying, This is what I am thinking, and therefore I should do this or that, this or that is happening…at which point in Kate’s deliberations (for she was, of course, doing what she was deciding was pointless) Maureen came in, and said, “Kate, you know what it is? It doesn’t matter, that’s what it is. I can’t feel that it matters. Whatever I decide to do.” She went quickly out again.” (page 256)Uplifting, right?Moral of the story: it’s healthy to be a bit selfish. It’s dangerous to completely surrender our entire selves to one thing, whether it be to our job, to our children or to our relationships…because if that outer thing, that image that we’ve allowed to define us, is suddenly removed, what remains?Rubric rating: 8.5 Depressing, but thought-provoking. (Plus .5 was awarded for the recurring seal dreams. Because SEALS.)

  • Nathan
    2019-03-01 20:07

    This feels a lot like a long form version of what is arguably Lessing's best short story, "To Room Nineteen". Make no mistake, the short story is better. The degeneration of Susan Rawlings is a lot more rapid and powerful than Kate Brown's brief break from reality. The rage is a lot more subdued in The Summer Before the Dark and Lessing is her most poignant and piercing when she's angry. And "To Room Nineteen" has one of the darkest, most bitter endings I've ever read, whereas The Summer Before the Dark feels too good to be true by the time it wraps up. Despite that, this is still a great novel which I caused me to think and reconsider many preconceptions. It's surprising to me to see all the quotes Lessing made toward the end of her life about being disillusioned with feminism. Because this is a feminist book through and through. Kate Brown has built her life on being beautiful and nurturing and motherly, but when her kids leave home and her hair turns gray she finds nothing left. This is a problem faced the world over. The general expectation that a woman is to define herself by her relationships with men is caustic, and Kate certainly discovers this time and again. The realization that she is not truly her own person hits hard."If it's my all... what else can I say? I haven't anything to offer. I've never done anything so that I could say- but I don't know what you value. I haven't traveled the golden trail to Katmandu, or done social work among the aged or written a thesis. I've just brought up a family..." She stopped because of all the bitterness in her voice.Of course, Kate loves her children and loves being a mother. The second great realization she comes to is that she isn't in competition with all other women. Her life is most meaningful when she lives it on her own terms. Her life and vitality are often wasted keeping up appearances, and once she is able to define herself as she sees herself, she is able to find more truth to what she does. Since this is Lessing, Kate's summer of brief madness is still often filled with cynicism. She will always be defined by her sex appeal. Her daughter will always be defined by her sex appeal. Things have not much better for how women are treated on a day to day basis. Yet this is also an uncharacteristically upbeat novel by her. There never was the same notion in this that dominated The Grass is Singing that life is what it is and is inherently unchangeable. Instead, social pressures remain constant, but the ability of the individual to change their own personal sphere is another force to be counted on. And since I agree more with that, I'm obviously more inclined to like this novel.

  • Sandy
    2019-03-19 15:01

    Kate Brown is a 45-year-old London housewife and mother of four young adults who finds herself at a loose end. Neither her husband nor her children--all of whom are immersed in their own interests and do not spare her much thought at all--need her. She takes a job with an international civil service organization called Global Foods, the primary purpose of which is to host lavish conferences for well-heeled, jet-setting civil servants who are about as connected to the native workers they represent as Kate is to her family (despite all she has come to believe about herself after a quarter century of devoted caring).In this 1973 bildungsroman for the new woman, Kate Brown wrestles with a serial dream about a stranded seal struggling to return to the ocean as she wrestles with the truth of herself and of her life .Along the way, she becomes a star with Global Foods, has a pathetic romantic affair with an American in Spain, and finds herself the flatmate of a young woman named Maureen--a well-off waif whose own search for the right road for herself coincides with Kate's. Kate and Maureen become each other's foil and friend for a little while, and then they move on--but only after they each make the startling realization that women make their reality by the image of themselves they project and that nothing matters. This is to say that they realize they can create their own realities and decide for themselves what is worth caring about--and in their own good time.In the end, liberation is not a group project but an individual one. The rewards come slowly and strangely, but they do come. This is a rich and lyrical story.

  • ممدوح رزق
    2019-02-25 17:01

    ربة المنزل التي تسعى لإنقاذ أحلامها من الضياع والموت بعد أن تحولت إلى مجرد زوجة وأم .. المرأة التي عاشت تجارب مختلفة في كثير من القصص القصيرة والأفلام السينمائية والروايات لعل أجمل هذه التجارب بالنسبة لي حينما كانت هذه المرأة هي ( دورا ) في القصة الرائعة للكاتبة الإيطالية ( أنجلا ديانا دي فرنشيسكا ) : ( لا تجعليهم يجدونك ) ، وأيضا حينما كانت ( فرنشيسكا ) التي جسدتها بعبقرية ( ميريل ستريب ) بصحبة أحد أحب أيقوناتي السينمائية ( كلينت استوود ) في فيلمهما الساحر : ( جسور مقاطعة ماديسون ) وكذلك ( كيت براون ) في رواية ( دوريس ليسنج ) : ( الصيف قبل الظلام ) .. هذه الرواية ـ رغم أنها أصبحت أكثر جمالا حين استبعدت منها كثيرا من الصفحات المتخمة بالشروح والاستطرادات والوصف المستفيض والتفاصيل والأحداث التي لم يكن لها ضرورة عندي والتي كانت تشعرني أن ( دوريس ليسنج ) لا تريدني أن أكتشف شيئا بنفسي ـ هذه الرواية حققت قيمة مهمة للغاية في الفن الروائي لا تنجز كثيرا في رأيي وهي الإلهام بتأملات لم تتم مصادفتها بوضوح داخل صفحات الرواية وإنما تعطي إدراكا بشكل ما أنها الدماء الغنية التي تنشط وراء جلد الكلمات والسطور والتي وفرت الحياة الحقيقية للروح العميقة للرواية ....تابع بقية المقال في مجلة الروائي

  • Sharon T
    2019-03-13 18:13

    While the theme certainly resonated with me, and I found myself littering the book with scraps to mark ideas and observations that connected to my life personally, or were interesting in a feminist-time-capsule kind of way, or that represent some fundamental truth about women's existence in general today, I nonetheless found the book somewhat of a tedious chore. Too much "tell", not enough "show". That said, the novel provides ample food for thought about one's role (in a family, in society), what happens when one (if one's entire identity is wrapped up in one's role) is no longer particularly necessary, and the crisis of identity that inevitably ensues. Something that I found particularly interesting was the representation of the sexual values and mores of that particular age, coming off the 60's and before the dark days of AIDS.

  • Ideath
    2019-03-03 19:04

    Picked this up because i saw Lessing's name in a list of british sci-fi writers who are under-read in the US. Didn't realize that i was getting a book from before she veered into the genre (didn't realize that there had been a veer). So far, enjoying its subjectivity -- it is less surreal and mysterious than On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House, but i feel like they are closely related.Living in the head of a woman of another time (mid 20th Century) is alien enough that it might as well be science fiction. Especially in that this book is examining that woman's thought processes and her assumptions as they collide with a suddenly change in much the same way it would have to make explicit an alien world.

  • Liza
    2019-02-27 21:05

    After an aborted attempt at the Golden Notebook in my 20s I've kept away from Doris Lessing. When she was awarded the nobel prize I thought I should try her again, and this was all the local bookshop had from her 'oeuvre'. There are some devastatingly accurate chapters on becoming a middle-aged woman, but it lacked structure and meandered (boringly) in the second half.

  • Holly
    2019-02-28 13:19

    wowsers... thought provoking indeed this book has so much going on via the narrative that a second read is mandatory. lessing takes onthe biggest subjects nonchallantly and then hits you straight on with truthfulness that is breathtaking in its simplicity...

  • Ed
    2019-03-20 17:15

    Too much thinkin', not enough actin'.

  • Zia
    2019-03-12 20:14

    I know its great, but I just didn't get it.

  • Erin
    2019-03-16 16:02

    I really did not understand the main character and the 'journey' she was making in this novel. Her choices did not make sense to me.