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From Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, this is the second instalment in the visionary novel cycle ‘Canopus in Argos: Archives’.
This is the story of the kindly Queen of Zone Three, who rules a land free of all harshness, and her forced marriage with the soldier-king of Zone Four, which is hierarchic, disciplined, inflexible, dutiful. This apparently difficult marriage, unwanted by both, requires a compromise between impulse and reason, between instinct and logic.
Ben Ata learns to accept and then to love the ruler of Zone Three and her alien ways; and she learns to love and to need him. But when the Queen is commanded by the Providers to return to her own realm, she must obey, shattering though it is to leave her husband and child. Ben Ata, in turn, is ordered to marry the savage beauty who rules Zone Five, a land that both unites and reverses the other two Zones.
In ‘The Marriages …’ Doris Lessing uses science-fiction brilliantly to investigate the conflict between men and women. Once again, invented planets allow her to deploy her unillusioned knowledge of the real world of the reader.
'Doris Lessing's preoccupation with the balance and dominance and need between the sexes has here extraordinary scope. A visionary fable full of strong, romantic ideas.'
GAY FIRTH, The Times
'Doris Lessing has chosen the language of fairy tales in order to keep the memory of ordinary earthlings' sexual love, its antagonisms, its moments of bliss. Her touch is glancing, amused, feline throughout.'
MARINA WARNER, Sunday Times
''The Marriages' is a feminist allegory of the relations between the sexes, full of the constant charm of the unexpected and the discoveries of an imagination surrendering itself to the momentum of its own narrative and visual invention.'
ROBERT TOWERS, New York Times
About the author
Doris Lessing is one of the most important writers of the twentieth century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. Her first novel, 'The Grass is Singing', was published in 1950. Among her other celebrated novels are 'The Golden Notebook', 'The Fifth Child' and 'Memoirs of a Survivor'. She has also published two volumes of her autobiography, 'Under my Skin' and 'Walking in the Shade'. Doris Lessing died on 17 November 2013 at the age of 94.