Shikasta Re, Colonized Planet 5 : Personal, Psychological, Historical Documents Relating to Visit by Johor (Paperback)
|Author: Doris May Lessing|
|A disturbing allegory, centered around a planet called Shikasta, which bears remarkable similarities to Earth. Through time, a higher planet, Canopus, has documented the progress of Shikasta and tried to distract its inhabitants from the evil influence of the planet Shammat, but the Shikastans continue to hurl themselves toward annihilation.|
From the Publisher:
This is the first volume in the series of novels Doris Lessing calls collectively Canopus in Argos: Archives. Presented as a compilation of documents, reports, letters, speeches and journal entries, this purports to be a general study of the planet Shikasta–clearly the planet Earth–to be used by history students of the higher planet Canopus and to be stored in the Canopian archives. For eons, galactic empires have struggled against one another, and Shikasta is one of the main battlegrounds.
Johar, an emissary from Canopus and the primary contributor to the archives, visits Shikasta over the millennia from the time of the giants and the biblical great flood up to the present. With every visit he tries to distract Shikastans from the evil influences of the planet Shammat but notes with dismay the ever-growing chaos and destruction of Shikasta as its people hurl themselves towards World War III and annihilation.
Doris Lessing was born in the area that was then Persia, later Iran. Her father, a farmer, subsequently moved the family to Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe), where she reluctantly attended the Roman Catholic Convent Girls' High School. As soon as she was able, Lessing left school and began working, first as a nursemaid and then as a secretary and typist. She married and had two children with Frank Charles Wisdom, but left them in 1943. Her politics grew increasingly left-wing, and she became involved in several activist groups, which she documents fictionally in her autobiographical Martha Quest series. For several years she was a member of the Communist Party but became increasingly disillusioned and left it altogether in 1954. Many of her early fiction works, set in Africa, have been implicit criticisms of racism; in 1956, Lessing was declared a prohibited alien in South Africa (and didn't return until 1995, when she traveled there to visit her daughter and grandchildren). Lessing's most celebrated novel by far is THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK (1962), an experimental work in which a woman's multiple selves are presented as she tries to find a way out of her emotionally stunted life in a hypocritical society. In addition to writing fiction and autobiography, Lessing has experimented with a form of science fiction she calls "inner-space fiction"; she has also collaborated with the composer Philip Glass, providing the librettos for two operas based on her works and has written extensively about her love of cats, in PARTICULARLY CATS and "...AND RUFUS. In 1995, Lessing received an honorary degree from Harvard University.