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The Good Terrorist


Canopus in Argos: Archives
Doris Lessing Writer
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So I wrote Marriages [Between Zones Three, Four and Five], which I personally think is one of my best books, and it... it's also got a life of its own. It then became a... opera with Philip Glass which was done in Germany and then in Chicago, and then nothing has happened – these things go in waves, nothing has happened to this book... this opera, since.

But this particular... it's completely unlike the other books in that series – the series is called... what is it called? It's ridiculous, it's... anyway, it's the Archives... of... Canopus... Canopus in Argos: Archives is the series. And so Marriages fitted into that as if I'd meant to do it, but I hadn't. But what happened was that a key had been turned somewhere in my unconscious or where... my over-conscious, my side-conscious... a key had been turned. Something that had been impossible for me to write for 10 years or more was perfectly easy; I just wrote it... in... just like that, and I adored writing it – which I must say something about that in a minute – I adored writing that book, and I... I still think it's one of my best books.

But why, you see... now we come to the explanation. Why did this happen? Why did this idea of the series set off a total of five books? Why did it? I don't know. We don't know about a lot of things. We don't know what goes on inside us, you know. That is the point, and we should remember it because it's all a great mystery, really... which brings me, at a somewhat surprising leap, to The Good Terrorist.

British writer Doris Lessing (1919-2013) was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. Her novels include 'The Grass is Singing', 'The Golden Notebook', and five novels collectively known as 'Canopus in Argos'. She was described by the Swedish Academy as 'that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny'. Lessing was the 11th woman and the oldest ever person to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five, Canopus in Argos: Archives, Philip Glass

Duration: 2 minutes, 10 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2007

Date story went live: 21 October 2011