The Sweetest Dream

ISBN: 0006552307
ISBN 13: 9780006552307
By: Doris Lessing

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About this book

Nobel Prize for Literature winner Doris Lessing tackles the 1960s and their legacy head-on in one of her most involving, personal, political novels.

Reader's Thoughts

Thomas Ullman

It's well written and has some nice touches....but I confess that I've given up with 'The Sweetest Dream.' It is 250 pages too long and the characters are not engaging enough for me to plough on with another 200 pages.Sorry Doris. Sure your nobel prize will be compensation!

Ahmed

دوريس ليسينج من أجمل الأقلام الإنجليزيه التى قرأت لها فى حياتى,أنثى جميله بقلم أنثوى أكثر من رائع,أول ما قرأت لها كانت روايه بعنوان (الطفل الخامس) وأيقنت أننى وقعت فى غرام قلمها وأسلوبها السحر,وفى هذا العمل (الضخم) الساحر تقدم لنا واقع المجتمع فى فترة منتصف القرن العشرين, بأحداث اجتماعيه قمة الإبداع عبر عين شخصيتها الرئيسيه الجميله (فرانسيس)تلك المرأة المكافحه الى تضغطها ظروف الحياة لدرجة الأنفجار, كم يخذلها الرجال وكم تكافح هى لتربيه ولديها وكم تهتم بحماتها العجوزورغم أن العمل مترجم إلا أن اللغه جيده تنم عن حِرفيه شديدهالأحداث دقيقه بتفاصيل مهمه تعرف من خلالها واقع المجتمع فى تلك الفترة البعيدهالشخصيات عميقه تجد فيها العمق النفسى الذى يجعلك تتعرف على كافة أبعاد شخصياته.فى المجمل عمل روائى كامل ينم عن احترافيته وأكاديميته كسائر روايات حائزى نوبل , ورغم ضخامة العمل إلا أنى انتهيت منه فى وقت ممتاز.

Christine

I really have no idea what I ended up reading here. It was way more interesting to discuss with book group than it was to actually read it, though at one point I felt the story became very compelling. For a good bit through, I just felt extremely disoriented by the the characters and setting. The discussion pulled some themes from the book mostly about women, work, gender equality, the role of women in the family (60's vs. today) and distinguishing what was "English" about this novel. Ultimately this was just not my kind of book but I'm very curious about the accolades that Doris Lessing has gotten for all her work. I just don't connect.

Vasco Ribeiro

Fiquei com curiosidade de perceber se o livro era uma auto-biografia ou não, e por isso despertou-me a curiosidade de ver a biografia da autora na wikipédia e não cheguei a nenhuma conclusão. Achei engraçada a análise divertida e objetiva da intelectualidade de esquerda, pretensamente jovem e vanguardista, dos anos 60. A escritora também parece muito divertida a escrever e a dissecar os caracteres e as personagens. De qualquer maneira o livro tem duas partes muito diferentes embora que se entrecruzam ligeiramente: a parte inicial em Londres, e a parte final algures em África. Podiam ser dois livros, até porque as personagens principais mudam. Mas não são. Por isso fica-se a perguntar porque é que a Autora fez assim. Por mim não alcancei uma resposta.

Patricia

This book took me a while.....I read several other books in between..but I kept going back. I really cared for the main characters.....however mad I got at them at times......... I would love to hear what some of the book club members think of it...........but the books length might incite a riot......The book is set on two stages.....the world......and a large house on a side street in London....in the sixties. The author's note at the beginning states that the book is not autobiographical........but in reading her Nobel Prize speech.......it could have been a chapter in this book........I was attracted to the author when she won the Nobel Prize......Her picture reminded me of my grandmother.....and being one of only 11 women authors to win in the field of literature.....I knew I had to seek her out again........I had read some of her sci fi works years ago, but they didn't stick with me....This book will.....

Grant

A vast, sweeping, panoramic novel of the 60's and the aftermath of the 60's. In the huge cast of characters and the dense intricacy of the narrative, it resembles some of the great 19th century novels, like "War and Peace", Middlemarch" or "Bleak House". Indeed, although the literary style employed here is quite accessible, keeping track of the many threads of the narrative can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Very powerful in certain parts of the book. Some of the later sequences in Africa, showing the desperate hunger for education in an obscure village, and the torments of disease and starvation that bedevil this village, are really heartbreaking. The one real problem I had with this book, and it is a significant one, is that it is shot through with a kind of scolding moralizing, a pervasive self righteousness. This kind of attitude has long been present in Lessing's work, but it seems more pronounced here. However, this novel remains a very absorbing one and I did enjoy it.

Elham

In The Sweetest Dream devotees of communism are some overexcited, smelly youths with greasy unwashed hairs who have sweetest dreams about the future of their ideology. This is England in 1970.The historical-fiction aspect in this novel is so strong that I sometimes felt I was reading a real historical book. All the meetings, family gatherings and discussions are revolving around politics. A big family, consisting of Frances and her two sons: Colin and Andrew, Julia -grandmother, Johnny-Julia's son and Frances' ex-husband and many friends of Colin and Andrew- Rose, Sophie, Danial… They are all living in Julia's big house. Johnny is a famous communist leader. He always comes to this house for dinner with his new fellows. He stands by the window- not sits at the table and speaks about politics. He is a bad father. He never understands his sons – doesn't know anything about affection or love. He gets married three times- and each time he says I finally find my real fellow my real wife!Strong characters are female – as I expected. Frances, Julia and then Silvia. Three women with different ages and from different generations. And aren't they a representation of the writer, herself, for different parts of her life?! Considering that Doris Lessing wrote this book in 2001, when she was 82, I can imagine Silvia as young, Francis as middle aged and Julia as 82- Doris Lessing.A big part of this novel is devoted to Zimlia a fictional country in Africa, which some say it is Zimbabwe, in which Lessing lived there some years. Silvia went to work in an African mission hospital voluntarily as a doctor. This is the time of new revolutions, new miseries and new diseases like AIDS. Feminists and defenders of women's rights in this novel are some radical, self-centered women, like Rose Trimble, a journalist who divorced her nice husband because of his smiles after having been bombard by his wife's nonstop speeches about women.I think this is a novel which could be written only by an 82 female writer who witnessed a big part of history, who was herself a communist, feminist and conservative in special periods of her life.

Nikki Klein

I couldn't get into this book. Too many words to make it's points. I found myself skimming the pages. Gave up and shelved it.

Queirosiana

"Em O Sonho Mais Doce, o leitor é conduzido por uma saga familiar que atravessa três gerações, centrando-se o enredo, sobretudo, na década de 60, altura em que a casa de Júlia Lennox alberga uma grande quantidade de jovens, personificando o espírito de liberdade prevalecente na Inglaterra de então."Um livro marcante, inesquecível... é o meu terceiro livro da escritora e começa a tornar-se óbvio que o meu apreço pela escritora, mesmo antes de ler qualquer obra sua, é verdadeiro.Este livro fala-nos dos "dourados" anos 60. Acompanhamos três gerações distintas, os seus sucessos, os seus fracassos, as suas fraquezas, as suas glórias, e acima de tudo, os seus sonhos.Nunca vivi os anos 60, estou muito longe deles até, mas este livro revive o espírito, a mudança latente, a ruptura emergente, a rebeldia incessante, o pensamente de esquerda, as relações "liberalíssimas" e o Sonho constante de querer Mudar o Mundo...Julia é a personagem mais velha, sogra de Frances e avó de Andrew e Colin e, mais tarde, Sylvia. Representa a geração que ainda viveu, na juventude, a 2ª Guerra e que guarda ainda dentre de si uma educação rígida e conservadora.Frances, mãe de Andrew e Colin é a mãe liberal que torna a sua casa num albergue para jovens (amigos dos filhos, amigos dos amigos dos filhos...) que fogem de casa das suas famílias porque se sentem "incompreendidos", divorciada de Johnny um eterno comunista que defende a todo o custo da doutrina da Revolução e incentiva todos os actos contra o regime e que negligencia a educação e sustento dos filhos.Sylvia, filha da segunda mulher de Johnny, sofre na infância os tormentos de uma mãe louca que a culpa por não ter sucesso na vida. Acaba por ir para casa de Julia, que a acolhe como uma segunda mãe e lhe dá a educação que acaba por a tornar Médica. Decide fazer voluntariado numa zona de África - Zimlia - onde se inicia o confronto com a doença, que nessa altura começava a surgir, a SIDA. Esta parte do livro é a mais inquetante e a mais crua e isso torna-a, sem dúvida, na parte fulcral e culminante de todo o enredo.Existem depois uma série de personagens secundárias, cuja vida também acompanhamos de próximo e que demonstram, muitas delas, a sua hipocrisia, que mais não é do que a perda do Sonho, que está constantemente presente nesta obra - esse Sonho de mundar o mundo. Que resiste e persiste mesmo depois do Muro cair, mesmo depois de se conhecer o tamanho das atrocidades cometidas pelo Regime Soviético, e com uma citação do livro ... "mas onde está a surpresa, se, (apesar de tudo) é sempre O Sonho que conta?"."E por isso, como todos nós fazemnos com a pior e mais profunda dor, começaram a esquecer"

Stephanie

I was a child of the 60s in the US. This book reminds me of how old I have become and how idealistic I was. The 60s in Britian were different than in the US, but there were still many similarities. There were children, who left their families to live with other families, because they could not tolerate their parents. There were demonstrations, drugs, sexual promiscuity and a general rebellion against authority and the Establishment, but the Communist Party seemed to play a big role in Britian while the Communists were locked up in the US. I think their history of having survived two world wars helped to shape their behavior. This novel traces the lives of a group of British children who were entering adolesence in the 60s until they entered middle age at the end of the century. Definitely worth reading. If you grew up in the 60s, you may find yourself in one or more of the characters as did I, and you will learn more about yourself and where your life began.

Louise Wilson

Tedious and boring. Maybe just 'dated'. The book's themes should have resonated with me - I was a teenager in the 60s; I lived in Third World Papua New Guinea in the 70s; and I've certainly lived long enough to see how the world treats women. My mother was very like Frances, going out to work to help support the family and coming home at night, exhausted, to turn on family meals for all and sundry. Her own talents never had a chance to be expressed while my sisters and I were given every opportunity to make the world our oyster. My father dabbled in politics (but otherwise was unlike that creep, Johnny). My grandmother was a widow raising five children during the Great Depression. She had an 'admirer' in the 1960s, all very proper, just like Julia. Our family suffered the loss of sons and brothers in both World Wars. Change the names, set it in Sydney, and this book might have been about my own family's experience of the 20th century. But still I was not engaged by this book. I read it because I had to, for a Book Club discussion. Maybe the problem was that its canvas was too broad. For me, it did not have a coherent theme or narrative. I felt as if someone had given me a big bowl of blancmange to digest. The hotch-potch of characters was confusing and even shadowy, popping in and out of the story for no apparent reason. Apart from the very strange Silvia, who appeared on enough pages for readers to get to know and remember, the characters did not attract my interest or sympathy. Doris Lessing circulates in the stratosphere of English-language writers and the book is certainly well-written in terms of vocabulary and English expression, a very big plus these days. For family history writers such as myself, it offers another benefit, as an angle on the difficulties of handling three or four generations in a single volume.

patmarli1

I loved this book on so many levels - dysfunctional families, a historical panorama from a period that was truly exciting for the participants and set the scene for so much emancipation, especially for women. There were times this book represented my war & peace as I read it whilst breastfeeding a new baby (and always felt the end was never near...to the book or the breastfeed). Doris has a real knack for picking up the threads of history and showing us their vital patterns, then unleashing their force on the lives of her characters. See what I mean when you read this book.....

Laurel-Rain

In this testament to a time long ago, "The Sweetest Dream: A Novel" reminds us of a colorful era when the boundaries were blurred, the issues were paramount, and many young people (and some older ones) were celebrating the revolution.Frances Lennox is trying to make it on her own, raise her two sons, and manage to maintain a household for the seemingly ever-growing group of hangers-on that shows up regularly at the house owned by her former mother-in-law Julia, whose generosity she depends upon. Neither of them are very happy when ex-husband Johnny (and black sheep son) shows up frequently, expecting the king's treatment.During one of these moments, Frances gives in to the feelings she often hides. Her ex has just savagely put down his son Colin, whose first novel is being published; in his rant, Johnny reams his son out for his bourgeois beliefs and attitudes. Frances calls him to task for his behavior, which goes against the grain for her and wrings her out emotionally.Following this dramatic scene, Frances gives in to her feelings, showing them freely, for the first time ever: "And then, a surprise to herself, Frances laid her head down on her arms, on the table, among all the dishes. She sobbed. Andrew waited, noting the freshets of tears that renewed themselves every time he thought she had recovered. He was white too now, shaken. He had never seen his mother cry, never heard her criticize his father in this way."But despite the emotional moments Frances suffers, from time to time, she continues the task of cleaning up other people's messes.Throughout this tale, I wanted to shake this woman; but I also knew that she was, in a way, a victim of her times.The book was long, with relentless moments such as these, which I found tedious, despite being able to relate to the story. Nevertheless, the most I can offer is four stars at this time.

meer damad

طالعت هذه الرواية في رفوف المكتبات، إلا أنّ سعرها الغالي كان محفزاً لي لتركها؛ علّـني اتحصل عليها في موقع هنا او مجلدٍ هناك. إلا اني طمعت فيها كثيراً حينما وجدتها في معرض الأيام الثقافي في المنامة، العاصمة البحرينيّة، فاقتنيتها بسعر يختلف بشكل يسير ( 60 ريال! ) في سبتمبر الماضي. والآن، أجدها قد قاربت هذا السعر في رفوف المكتبات.البارحة، كان آخر عهدي في قراءة الرواية. صفحاتها – ذات الحجم الوزيري – كانت مملوءة بالأحداث. أمــا الحوارات، فهنا وهناك تجدها مبعثرة. إلا أن الصعوبة كل الصعوبة، والسوء كله في الترجمة، التي حاكت باسهاب الترجمة الحرفية من دون تدخل من قِبل المترجم لتعديل هذا وتقوية ذاك، وذلك ما يجعلك تعيد قراءة بعض النصوص والصفحات؛ محاولاً فهمها!بداية الرواية كانت مربكة، ورغم ميلي للروايات الطويلة، إلا أنني عانيت فترة حتى استطعت التوفيق بين الأحداث في بداية الرواية، بعد مسيرة تقارب المئة صفحة منها!كانت الرواية تحاول محاكاة المجتمع البريطاني خلال حقبة الستينيات 1960s بكل ما فيها من تفاصيل، حتى ذلك التوجه الكبير للتبشير في الأحراش الأفريقـيّة. رواية نجحت في عكس تناقضات جيلـَي الشباب والكبار في تلك الفترة، لتفسّرَ عمق الشرخ داخل العلاقات الأسرية والعائليّة في تلك المجتمعات.ولعَلّ أجمل ما في الرواية من وجهة نظري، وما استهلكَ كثيراً من أجزائها، هو القسم المتعلق بأفريقيا، وبالتحديد في زيملايا – كما تقول الكاتبة – والعمل التطوعي فيها، عبر بعثات التبشير. ورغم ميل الكاتبة العنيف للرجل الأبيض، وانتقادها لتصرفات السود – رغم قضائها فترة طويلة معهم كما يقول المترجم – إلا أنها احسنت وصف الحالة المعاشة هناك في مجاهل أفريقيا، والتي لا أتصور تغيّرها رغم هذه السنين، وإن لم أ ُوَفق لزيارتها.خـَتمت الكاتبة الرواية، بثلاث نهايات، موت مفاجئ وهو في نظري نهاية رتيـبة. وتحقيق أحلام صبيين انضما حديثاً للعائلة، وذلك أكثر رتابة. إلا أنّ مشهد الطفولة الأخير، في لندن، كان مشهداً جـِد جميل.تبقى الرواية، دعوة مفتوحة لمن يرغب في معرفة بؤس تلك المجتمعات الغربية من الناحية الاجتماعيّة، وتفككِها، باعتراف أهلها وكتـّابها. واحب التأكيد على الفكرة الجيدة التي تعطيها الرواية – رغم سعرها المرتفع جداً – عن الوضع الأفريقي، وكما قلت سابقاً، لا أظن أن الوضعين قد اختفا..إلى يومنا هذا!المير دامـاد

Wendy Brown-Baez

The extended family made up of friends and young people alienated from their own parents, the idealism and the disillusionment, were very familiar to me as a teen of the 60's. I understood Frances although I did want to shake her out of being used by others. But I often had trouble sympathizing with the other characters; they didn't resonate with me. I was watching from a little bit of a distance a fascinating portrayal of a living situation that had the potential to be inspiring and instead, everyone seem self-centered and self-conscious. I was captivated and drawn into the family saga but it seemed like the last part about Africa was really another book. I had to force myself to read it even though it had in fact interesting details about Africa and the AIDS epidemic. It was just that I felt disconnected from the previous story. It felt like the author's need to witness the situationin Africa more than a real flow to the original story.

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