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On Not Winning the Nobel Prize

by Doris Lessing - 2008

This is north-west Zimbabwe in the early eighties, and I am visiting a friend who was a teacher in a school in London. He is here “to help Africa,” as we put it. He is a gently idealistic soul and what he found in this school shocked him into a depression, from which it was hard to recover. This school is like every other built after Independence. It consists of four large brick rooms side by side, put straight into the dust, one two three four, with a half room at one end, which is the library. In these classrooms are blackboards, but my friend keeps the chalks in his pocket, as otherwise they would be stolen. There is no atlas or globe in the school, no textbooks, no exercise books, or biros. In the library there are no books of the kind the pupils would like to read, but only tomes from American universities, hard even to lift, rejects from white libraries, or novels with titles like Weekend in Paris and Felicity Finds Love.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 110 Number 14, 2008, p. 45-50
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22829, Date Accessed: 3/4/2021 6:43:41 AM

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About the Author
  • Doris Lessing
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    Doris Lessing grew up in Zimbabwe and dropped out of high school at age 13 to pursue her love of writing. At 15, she published two stories in South African magazines. In 1949, she moved to London and published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing. Noted for her deeply autobiographical fiction, Lessing was named to the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize in 2005 and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007. She has announced that her 2008 novel, Alfred and Emily, will be her last. This selection is excerpted from Lessing’s Nobel acceptance speech which was delivered on December 7, 2007. Copyright © The Nobel Foundation, 2007.
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