The Sweetest Dream

ISBN: 0060937556
ISBN 13: 9780060937553
By: Doris Lessing

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About this book

Set against the backdrop of the decade that changed the world forever, The Sweetest Dream is a riveting look at a group of people who dared to dream-and faced the inevitable cleanup afterward -- from one of the greatest writers of our time.

Reader's Thoughts


This is a book which tells the story of one family pretty much through the 20th century. Julia, the matriach, is a German woman who is young in the First World War. Between wars she marries a British soldier and moves to London. The book has as a central character the house she and her extended family live in.The strong characters are almost entirely female, as too are some of the weaker ones.Her rather useless son, Johnny, is a communist in the 60s and his ex-wift Francis lives inthe house with their sons. There is the daughter of the second wife, Sylvia who enters the book as a disturbed annorexic teen and leaves it a doctor workign in rural Zimlia, a ficitious African country post independence which is essentially a mix of Zimbabwe and South African now.The book, for me, seemed to be about how we all travel through life, doing what we do and thus affecting the people behind us and how they expereince the world. It also includes the way women see the world, and how they interact with it, and how that has changed in the decades since Julia was a young women.The book is full of characters you will remember, even, or maybe especially, the ones you do not like. They are all very real as are their lives and their decisions.At times I was frustrated by the characters and at others I felt their helplessness as they simply tried to make the best of what life offered them.Definately a book filled with women doing what women do - raising families and trying to give the individuals they are 'responsible' for a little more than what they had.a very enjoyable audio book althoguh I am not sure how I would have felt about its length had I been reading it.I will certainly take another Lessing out of the library - I am new to her but have been meaning to read some of her stuff for ages.


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.

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.

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.


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.


Los personajes son bastante entrañables, normalmente tengo grandes dificultades para recordar los nombres de los personajes y distinguirlos, sin embargo en este caso no fue así a pesar de que son relativamente numerosos.La historia transcurre a lo largo de una treintena de años, a grandes rasgos le vi dos partes, la primera transcurre a principios de los sesentas y muestra un retrato de la sociedad de la época, la segunda transcurre a comienzos de los noventas y tiene algo mas de critica a gobiernos e instituciones. La primera parte me gusto un poco mas y allí fui donde me encariñe con algunos personajes.I grew fond of most of the characters, to the point that even tough I usually have a hard time remebering their names and telling them appart with this book that was not the case.The story spans several decades, and is divided in two clear parts, the 60s where we are presented with a portrait of that time's society, and the late 80s where a bigger picture of the world of that time is exposed.


"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"

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.

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!


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.


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.....


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

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


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."


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.

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