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


Luego de haberme enterado de que esta fabulosa autora a quién le he tomado cariño en los últimos meses falleció, sentí un gran deseo de hacer una reseña de este libro. Ya no lo tengo fresco, pero causó una gran impresión en mí.Este libro, como lo menciona la autora, fue una manera de reflejar los 60's sin tener que hacer la segunda parte de su biografía, esto con el fin de evitar lastimar susceptibilidades. Es por esto, que Lessing en lugar de hablar de ella, habla de una gran cantidad de personajes.Es uno de los primeros libros que leo con tantos , sin mencionar que todos tienen su protagonismo y un desarrollo impecable.La historia se centra en Frances, una ex revolucionaria que es abandonada por su comunista ex esposo (Johnny). Ella tiene que mantener a sus dos hijos y hacerse cargo de ellos por su cuenta, hasta que su suegra, Julia, logra convencerla de que viva con ella en su enorme casa. Frances tuvo que abandonar su sueño de seguir haciendo Teatro debido a la inestabilidad del trabajo, por lo tanto, tiene que apegarse a un aburrido puesto en un periódico dando consejos a mujeres desesperadas. Esta es la base de la historia, podemos determinar que Frances es la protagonista, pero no, en realidad la protagonista es la casa de Julia, una casa que alberga no sólo a la familia de Frances, si no a un grupo de jóvenes con pensamientos "revolucionarios" que han salido de sus casas en busca de alejarse de aquellos padres que no entienden sus deseos de rebelión contra el sistema. Durante todo el libro vemos el desarrollo de todos los personajes, desde Frances, Julia, Johnny, hasta el último de los jóvenes rebeldes. Todos van creciendo, todos desarrollan su personalidad y los vemos convertirse en adultos llenos de responsabilidades y muchos problemas emocionales. Vemos un perfecto reflejo de la juventud en los años 60, y en qué logran convertirse.El libro me fascinó, envuelve muy bien en la historia y logras conocer los motivos detrás de la acción de cada uno. Te conviertes en testigo de una reflexión y un seguimiento de ideas muy particular para cada personaje, así que a pesar de que son muchos, no perderás el hilo. Es una historia para disfrutar.


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.


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.


The Sweetest Dream,Doris Lessingعنوان: شیرینترین رویاها، اثر: دوریس لسینگ؛ برگردان: اسماعیل قهرمانی پور؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، روزگار، 1389، در 758 ص، شابک: 9789643741655؛ فروست: شاهکارهای ادبیات جهان از مجموعه رمان روزگار 424، موضوع داستانهای انگلیسیفرانسیس زنی که از شوهرش جدا شده، و همراه با مادرشوهر و دو پسرش در خانه بزرگی زندگی میکند. دوستان فرزندانش و افراد دیگری نیز ساکن این خانه میشوند. بنابر همین دوریس لسینگ از ماجراهای خانوادگی سخن می‌گوید و روابط جدا نشدنی این افراد را در کنار هم روایت می‌کند. رمانی که بسیاری از منتقدان آن را آینه‌ای تمام نما از تاریخ زندگی انسان‌های امروزی می‌دانند، و معتقدند شخصیت‌های آن به سختی از ذهن مخاطب خارج می‌شوند. شخصیت‌هایی خوب یا بد، که زندگی‌شان به شدت تحت تاثیر جنگ و فضای آن قرار گرفته است. دوریس لسینگ در رمان «شیرین‌ترین رویاها»، به تجربیات گذشته خود باز می‌گردد و زندگی مردم را در شهر لندن و یک کشور فرضی آفریقایی مرور می‌کند؛ کشوری به نام «زیملیا» که برخی از منتقدان بر این باورند لسینگ با انتخاب چنین مکانی در داستانش، به کشور زیمبابوه و وقایع داخلی آن اشاره می‌کند. «شیرین‌ترین رویاها» داستانی طولانی است که بی وقفه روایت می‌شود و نویسنده، کتاب را به فصل‌های گوناگون تقسیم نکرده، رمانی که شاید بتوان آن را فاقد موضوعی خاص دانست، اما لسینگ در این اثر با تمرکز بر نیازهای اعضای خانواده و با بهره‌گیری از دیالوگ‌های زیاد در طول داستان، و تکیه به نثر خود، کاری کرده که «شیرین‌ترین رویاها» جذاب و خواندنی باشد


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.

Sarah Newton

Absolutely superb. This is a classic "great novel" - it reminded me very much of Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks". It's a tale of a family spanning generations, tracing British society's relationship with communism, and in particular the "Leninist / Stalinist communism" of the Soviet Union and China, from the 1960s to 1990s. It's very much more than that, though - a study of hypocrisy, lip-service, real active humanity vs cynicism, exploitation, and ingratitude.I found myself arguing with Lessing's politics somewhat, while agreeing with her depiction of human nature. Especially in the early parts of the novel, she appears to be entirely critical of attempts to agitate for social justice and in favour of a more conservative, libertarian "common sense". Happily, as the novel progresses, it's clear she's being a lot more subtle than this, and using "communism" (or the 20th century statist-totalitarian nightmare which called itself "communism") as a hook for hanging her social critique on, in the same way that a 19th century writer would use the church or political protest. There are lots of echoes - Mrs Jellaby from Bleak House, the three generations of Buddenbrooks, Rousseau, Candide, and a whole lot of Dostoevsky, from Verkhovensky / Stavrogin in The Devils and some very explicit appeals to Sonia from Crime & Punishment. In the end, though, it's a hugely powerful, original, and modern work; its conclusion could be seen as somewhat nihilist, but I prefer to read it as very human: good is its own reward, and is punished accordingly.


I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that I enoyed this book. I recently also read "The Grass Is Singing," which really disappointed me in that, while it was clear that the ideas Lessing was putting forth and the themes she was exploring were probably rather revolutionary at the time they felt rather dated for a post postcolonial theory world. I had similar issues with the last third of "The Sweetest Dream," which sort of spirals off into another diatribe about the problematic relationship between Africa and Europe. But the rest of the book was a compelling, fun read. The way Lessing presents London in the sixties really made me reexamine my own conception of that era and see more deeply the complexity of some of the issues (feminism, communism, ideas of family) that I often take for granted as being rather black and white.


It is not for nothing that Doris Lessing won the Noble Prize.I place this book into an imaginary genre called "British Gothic." It's a book that covers the life of a family over 30-40 years from the early 19060s until the 90s or so. It deals with politics, class, parents and children and the separate worlds that they inhabit. It does not have a classic arc but is rather about the family as a whole and the individuals as members of it.It's brilliant. The characters are incredibly engaging. I finally decided that the story is really about idealism and how one can betray one's self and others by by remaining true to it.Since it is very difficult to write of a synopsis of the book, I give you Amazon's:"Frances Lennox and her two adolescent sons and their motley friends have taken over the bottom floors of a rambling house in Hampstead, London. Over the roiling years that begin with news of President Kennedy's assassination, a mutable assortment of young habitues gather around Frances's kitchen table, and [Frances' ex-husband:] Comrade Johnny makes cameo appearances, ever espousing Marxist propaganda. Lessing clearly relishes the recalcitrant '60s, yet she follows her characters through the women's movement of the '70s and a lengthy final digression in '90s Africa."


A family epic and commentary on society covering the mid twentieth century years. Doris Lessing manages to interweave events, such as Kennedy's assassination, the Vietnam war, African states pursuit of independent rule, AIDs, free love and recreational drug use, around the lives of the Lennox family and their friends. A critique of communism threads its way through the story, exposing its failure to bring about change, simply replacing one form of power and oppression with another. Her women are portrayed as strong and while embracing care for others, aspire to change the world, whilst the menfolk are generally more passive or even parasitic. She suggests in the end that we could all aspire to greater things, but circumstances may over-rule. Education is perhaps the solution. Just as she educated herself through reading widely, we find the Africans doing the same in the final pages of this book.A great read which provokes thought.


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.


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 the sixties. The author's note at the beginning states that the book is not autobiographical........but in reading her Nobel Prize 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.....

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!

Errol Hess

I fear I've neglected Lessing the last couple of decades--inexcusable as she was one of the greatest writers in English in the 20th century and well into the 21st. This book dates from 2001. Set in the 80s and 90s,it describes a group of people who live in a London House, starting with the grandmother, from Germany, courted by a Brit in the 1930s who married her after the war and brought her to England. Then there's her sons. One, a Communist and thoroughly selfish person, marries and leaves his wife with children. His mother takes them in. The ex-wife, in turn, takes in a variety of people: friends of her children, her ex-husband's daughter by his second wife, his second wife when he leaves her, etc. We witness their lives in this apparently pivotal time. And, near the end, we return to Lessing's native Africa. In her novel, Lessing parodies, politicians of all ilks, do-gooders more involved with their own status than knowledgable of the conditions they appear to address. At the same time she describes the goodness and flaws of ordinary and sometimes extraordinary people as the play the hands life has dealt them.

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.

Francesca Ponassi

Doris Lessing ci offre interessanti punti di vista sulla società inglese degli anni '60 e non solo.

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