Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook


Sorry, to add to my own post, it also seems like being too emotional nowadays is anti-feminist.  I don’t agree with this fundamentally, but I often see myself taking that knee-jerk stance when a woman (or in this case, a protagonist) is masochistic about men.

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Nona Willis Aronowitz
on December 11th, 2008 at 6:29 pm


  1. Harriet Rubin February 5th, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I enjoyed this experience of reading in public for a great while and learned a lot from the other readers. But around the time Brutal Man stuck his nose under the tent, the experience became suffocating. Something about that real-world intrusion made the whole effort of reading this book online seem small and artificial. I can’t be more revealing than that right now but I will think about this and post a more considered critique of the experience and the process.

    What might be better: to fashion a course based on a next book in which readers do more than react to random passages, and in which a small group of readers is present online periodically and simultaneously in a real-time conversation directing their comments to specific themes.

  2. Laura Kipnis February 6th, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    That’s interesting as I actually found that the Brutalman appearance, and the real-world intrusion, was the most interesting part of the experience–as I’m now convinced that was indeed the real life Saul Green (a.k.a. Clancy Sigal) surfacing. I wish he’d said more. For my part, I think that wish reflects the limitations I felt about this process. To begin with, my own lack of sufficient knowledge about the book’s context. Also, I would have liked male perspectives on the book, not only us girls. I’m glad I had the chance to participate in this experience and to reread the book; I think this could be a fantastic model for virtual book groups, but I suspect it wasn’t as interesting for others to follow as for those of us who were responding to the book and to each other.

  3. Harriet Rubin February 9th, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Laura, you’ve said more clearly what I meant: that Brutalman’s appearance brought the conversation to life; his disappearance exposed the narrowness of the on-line forum.

    I don’t think that this TGN experiment has begun to explore the possibilities of an online book group. If friendship and intimacy do not link the participants, then perhaps they should be fellow seekers reading a book to understand some current issue, like Gibbons’ Decline and Fall for a literary parsing of shifting hegemonies. And market the event; really plan it and alert schools. Give talks; go on the road; write a piece in Salon…get thinkers and policy makers involved.

    It would be nice to have a book that was of its time but also more than a period piece. I often felt TGN, for all its genius, did not adequately reward the diligence of reading.