Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Grass is Singing interview

VI formers currently preparing The Grass is Singing for the Leaving Certificate comparative answer in their Mocks will find useful material here in Doris Lessing's own words in the BBC World Service World Book Club from February 2003. The interview is 23 minutes long.

Among points of interest are :-
  • That she originally wrote a novel with Tony Marston as the main character throughout, but eventually cut out most of this, since she didn't feel she had to skill to maintain the narrative.
  • She had to create a mood of menace in the environment for Mary Turner, despite the fact that Lessing herself loves that landscape.
  • Rhodesia was 'the most profoundly boring culture' she has known, particularly in the way that the whites constantly talked about the shortcomings or strengths of their servants.
  • She didn't think of Mary and Moses as having a primarily physical relationship, but she was nonetheless interested in the way the black servant 'dominated' the white mistress.
  • In Rhodesia, many whites left rather than stayed, through boredom, failure or dislike of racism. There were plenty of whites like Dick who didn't make it, and were poor, but to an extent they were 'bolstered' by the wealthier whites, so that 'they didn't let the side down'. This was one of the culture's unwritten assumptions.
  • She thinks that Mary was 'under Moses's thumb' and then he felt betrayed at the end, so this was the motive for the murder.

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