Monday, December 05, 2005

Revisiting a terrorist

Jane Rogers' impressions on reading and rereading Doris Lessing's The Good Terrorist are very similar to my own (though I read it just the once).

I too was struck by the banality of Alice, her need to make a home for her comrades, take care of their daily requirements for housing and food, without any obvious sense of, or even interest in, the big picture and greater purpose for which they were striving; seemingly her only motivation is crumbs of love from Jasper, "permission to put her sleeping bag along the same wall as his."

[Lessing's] terrorists are contaminated by the muddle of being human, have parents they rebel against, have suffered injustices, have maternal impulses and physical needs, and a burning need for identity and recognition. This is not to suggest for a moment that Lessing demands sympathy for her characters; this is no touchy-feely book to help us understand the poor things who are driven to such extremes. It is a witty and furious book, angry at human stupidity and destructiveness, both within the system and without. It shows us people who commit an evil act and it shows how that evil springs out of our own society. It connects us to it, while condemning it. It makes any kind of complacency impossible.


I happened to be reading this book in September of 2001.
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