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Perrakis, P.S. (1981). Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook: Separation and Symbiosis. Am. Imago, 38(4):407-428.

(1981). American Imago, 38(4):407-428

Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook: Separation and Symbiosis

Phyllis Sternberg Perrakis, Ph.D.

The Golden Notebook is a rich and complex orchestration of the conscious and unconscious themes that run through the lives of many modern women. This paper will concentrate on one key pattern that filters through multilayered relationships and formal designs, providing a coherent shape to the novel. The emotional configuration that underlies the novel's formal and thematic complexity involves the fear of loss of a loved one and the attempts to deny or restore that loss. Anna, in Free Women, still living in the flat she had rented to share with her lover Michael, although he left her four years ago; Anna, in the “Blue notebook,” cooking an elaborate meal for Michael and waiting for him to come although in a part of her mind she knows he is about to leave her; Ella, in The Shadow of the Third, trying to pick out innocuous clothes and avoid mention of her novel in order not to arouse Paul's jealousy; all these fictions by or about Anna Wulf reflect Anna's inability to accept Michael's rejection of her.

Both thematically and formally, The Golden Notebook enacts the drama of Anna's attempt to resolve her anxiety at being rejected by Michael. This search only ends when Anna, overwhelmed with self doubt and self hate, begins to break down. Loss of her sense of identity and fusion with Saul Green enables Anna to live out at last the complex feelings at the heart of her anxiety over and dependence on her lover.

This pattern is also translated into the formal structure of the novel.

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