October 23, 2007

The Nobel Glory Of Doris Lessing

The Nobel committee has certainly fallen on desperate times, and especially so this year. First they award a peace prize to Al Gore for his global-warming hysterics, apparently because the science committee understood the extent of his exaggerations in An Inconvenient Truth. They awarded the literature prize to British author Doris Lessing, who disqualified herself for the peace prize by claiming that Americans were just too sensitive about having 3,000 murdered by terrorists on 9/11 (via Memeorandum):

Nobel laureate Doris Lessing said the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States were "not that terrible" when compared to attacks by the IRA in Britain.

"September 11 was terrible, but if one goes back over the history of the IRA, what happened to the Americans wasn't that terrible," the Nobel Literature Prize winner told the leading Spanish daily El Pais.

"Some Americans will think I'm crazy. Many people died, two prominent buildings fell, but it was neither as terrible nor as extraordinary as they think. They're a very naive people, or they pretend to be," she said in an interview published Sunday.

"Do you know what people forget? That the IRA attacked with bombs against our government; it killed several people while a Conservative congress was being held and in which the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was (attending). People forget," she said.

No one has forgotten the IRA and its terrorism, Doris. Talk about naive! Who has forgotten about them? How does Lessing measure the forgetfulness? The IRA has surrendered, thanks to a peace process that has the US as a partner with the British to secure. We're a good part of the reason that the IRA quit throwing bombs at the British.

So you're welcome, Doris. No, no, don't mention it at all. Oh, wait ... you didn't.

Because the IRA killed 700 more people over 30 years than we lost in a single day, apparently Doris thinks we should focus on a defunct terrorist group rather than defend ourselves against an ongoing threat. Perhaps Doris writes fiction better than she comprehends reality, but that's about as stupid an assertion as I've heard since 9/11, and she has a lot of competition for that prize. But why not? After all, it's just that a lot of people died and a couple of buildings fell. What's that in comparison to her professed hatred for Tony Blair and George Bush?

The Nobel Prizes have apparently shifted focus to the world's most clueless and/or despicable people. That started with Yasser Arafat's award for the latter, and Gore seems to embody the former. Lessing exemplifies both.


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Comments (36)

Posted by jerry | October 23, 2007 7:52 AM


Being a great novelist does not necessarily instill common sense upon the writer. Lessing is one the giants of the 20th century English speaking literary world and she deserves the prize. She got it for her great works of fiction and not for her acumen in the real world of politics.

Posted by Keemo | October 23, 2007 8:03 AM

On the subject of Al Gore having been awarded the "Nobel Peace Prize" for "An Inconvenient Truth"...


Pretty much sums up the integrity of this award.

Posted by TomB | October 23, 2007 8:07 AM

It is nauseating to listen to different brands of lefties and liberal moonbats pearl their wisdoms. If not for the “overreacting” Americans this lady would probably be speaking nice “Hail Hitler” now. Hence my general question:

Can stupid people write good books?

Posted by Jeff from Mpls | October 23, 2007 8:12 AM

She gives away her derangement when she says we Americans are either naive or pretend to be naive.

See that? We're simpletons and yet diabolical geniuses.

I don't care if she's clever with words. That such a soul-less individual has a freak writing talent only makes her more hideous in my view. She is no artist, or rather, she is the quintessential modern artist.

Posted by Ryan | October 23, 2007 8:16 AM

And its just coincidence that it ALWAYS goes to a novelist who is either lefty or anti-US, right?

Posted by rbj | October 23, 2007 8:29 AM

She does realize that the Islamic terrorists, if they had their way would not only not let her out of her house without a male relative to accompany her burkha clad body, but that they'd ban all of her writings -- along with everything that wasn't the Koran? Doesn't she?

Posted by reddog | October 23, 2007 8:31 AM

Doris lived in Rhodesia and South Africa most of her long and colorful life. They tend to take a more personal and proactive approach to sectarian/societal violence or at least they did, until the US sanctioned them out of existence.

Give the old lady a break, she lived through two generations of violent terrorist civil war. She didn't come here to live after the country of her birth was dismantled.

Posted by Eric Blair | October 23, 2007 8:41 AM

Everyone assumes that Lessing actually has talent. Anybody here actually ever read any novel she wrote?

Anybody? Bueller?

I didn't think so. Don't believe the hype.

Posted by Patrick Joubert Conlon | October 23, 2007 8:45 AM

I was surprised that Lessing had won the Nobel since she had repudiated communism. Now I know why she won: she's still a typical twerpy British leftist.

Posted by TomB | October 23, 2007 8:46 AM

Do you mean she has same kind of a personal grudge against Americans? (like they didn't let her keep her black slaves)? Or is it just a common case of a scholarly "you have to speak Anti-American to sound smart" kind of thing?

Posted by Patrick Joubert Conl | October 23, 2007 8:52 AM

reddog said: "Doris lived in Rhodesia and South Africa most of her long and colorful life. They tend to take a more personal and proactive approach to sectarian/societal violence or at least they did, until the US sanctioned them out of existence.

Give the old lady a break, she lived through two generations of violent terrorist civil war."

Lessing did not live "through two generations of violent terrorist civil war." She went to live in the UK in 1948 and has been there ever since - for nearly 60 of her 86 years.

And I've no idea what you mean by "the US sanctioned them out of existence." I was born and raised in South Africa and still have family living there. I can assure you it was not "sanctioned out of existence."

Posted by unclesmrgol | October 23, 2007 9:04 AM

Translation of Doris Lessing's words: We've been wronged more greatly by terrorists. Therefore your wrong is nothing, and should be ignored.

Britain did react strongly against the terrorists Doris mentions -- by sending large numbers of troops into Northern Ireland. Britain took strong action, invading the terrorists' native lands and using military force against them.

There are, however, another set of terrorists strangely absent from Doris' thoughts. Consider, for example, a certain airport in the north of the country. Had that attack gone as it was supposed to, then Doris might have fully understood our American pain. But then again, she should already -- wasn't the London subway bombed too?

Posted by Mike M. | October 23, 2007 9:35 AM

They're a very naive people, or they pretend to be," she said in an interview published Sunday.

What a world class thumbsucker this one is. Hey Doris baby, try "proud".

You do know what pride and self-respect are, right Doris? Your own country used to have these things once not so very long ago. Don't get all pissy at us just because we still do.

Posted by always right | October 23, 2007 9:42 AM

Another nobel laureate bashing the US and everything American? Why is that worthy of a "news"?

When a "winner" truly thankful for the freedom and opportunities a stable western culture nurtured the laureate, now that's news.

Posted by unclesmrgol | October 23, 2007 9:50 AM

Mike M.,

Attacking Britain because Doris Lessing happens to inhabit the isles isn't cool. The British are standing beside us in both Afghanistan and Iraq, so to impugn their bravery because of ill-chosen and ill-thought words from a second-rate author is disingenuous. It isn't pride that drives them -- it's loyalty.

Now, if you want to dig at the Spanish, that's OK. They caved to the terrorists, got the Madrid bombing as a reward, and still haven't responded.

Posted by burt | October 23, 2007 9:51 AM

I don't pay any attention to the ligature prize but I do pay a little to the "peace" prize. Arafat is not the first person to win that prize whom you wouldn't want to shake hands with unless of course you are Eleanor Roosevelt. There is a long list of unsavory people who have won that prize.

Posted by Eric Forhan | October 23, 2007 10:08 AM

She also insults her own countrymen. 67 British Citizens died on 9/11 in NYC. I don't believe the IRA ever came near that number in deaths (thank goodness).

Posted by jerry | October 23, 2007 10:23 AM

Reading the comments on Lessing makes me think that there is a grain of truth to the leftist notion that Conservatives are anti-intellectual and cannot separate their political distaste for any artist from the evaluation of their works. There are many great writers whose politics were abhorrent. Their works should be evaluated separately from their politics.

Posted by Steve Skubinna | October 23, 2007 10:25 AM

This is nothing but one more example of that nuance and sophistication Europeans (and American lefties) are always telling us about.

Posted by D Kosloff | October 23, 2007 10:42 AM

How on earth could Doris know what I have forgotten? People who claim to be able to read the minds of millions of people disturb me.

Posted by FredTownWard | October 23, 2007 10:49 AM


I thought for a moment that my rule of thumb for predicting the Nobel Prize for Literature, that it goes to the most anti-American loon of a nominee available had failed me this year, but Doris Lessing didn't let me down.

She's anti-American, she's mentally ill, so NATURALLY she's a Nobel laureate for Literature!

Note: for those who have wondered what difference there is between the Nobel Prizes for Literature and Peace, since the latter ALSO goes to the most anti-American loon of a nominee available, it is simply this:

nominees for the Literature Prize have to ADMIT that their writings are fictional while nominess for the Peace Prize are allowed to lie about it.

Posted by Kyle | October 23, 2007 11:12 AM

Watch out for exploding heads -- Hitchens hearts Lessing.

But anyway ... wow. A lot of ignorance on display here. It starts right at the top and flourishes as we move into Comments.

One fellow manages to get a couple of points right: Doris Lessing has lived in England most of her life, and South Africa does indeed still exist.

The rest of you ... well, one suspects you're more interested in righteousness than information. For instance, Lessing did not say or imply that 9-11 was "nothing." She said it was "terrible." She also said that the IRA's history of attacks was "more terrible."

She didn't count up death tolls and decide the UK came out ahead of the US. The newspaper article supplied that info as part of the routine newspsper job of providing a little background.

She's certainly a leftist, but more than that she is a woman who sees the world her own way and lets everyone else know her views. Writers are like that, left or right. Her views are often not at all sensible, but if you think she's a kneejerk Che left-winger, you have some reading to do. (At least if you feel the need to voice opinions on this subject.)

Notice that she points to an attempt on Margaret Thatcher's life as an example of how terrible the IRA attacks were. During the Thatcher era, in fact, Lessing enraged Britain's left by coming out for building bomb shelters. The left thought doing so would play into the hands of Reagan and Thatcher as they (in the left's view) sought a nuclear showdown with Russia. Lessing thought that if the world's great nuclear powers were not getting along, then having a lot of bomb shelters would be a smart move for the preservation of the human species.

9-11 "was neither as terrible nor as extraordinary" as Americans think, Lessing says. Why would she say that? Well, maybe because (as the right's favored saying goes) the world is a dangerous and, indeed, terrible place and horrific things happen far more often than we in the US realize.

And maybe she said it because she's British and people tend to care the most about the terrible events in their own country.

But considering these possibilities would deny you guys a chance to froth. So froth away.

ps to "Eric Blair" -- Be careful whose name you use. And yes, I've read The Golden Notebook (a great novel), The Summer Before the Dark (good), and some of Lessing's short stories. Check out "The Day Stalin Died," if you're man enough.

Posted by The Mechanical Eye | October 23, 2007 11:18 AM

I once spoke to an Englishman, a fairly fervent young Tory, and the topic came to the IRA. Quite a few British still remember how congressman in the east coast would support the IRA and how little the federal government did anything about it. He was as pro-American as they came but he (and I) noticed the sheer hypocrisy of the more-Irish-than-thou Americans supporting "freedom fighters" like the IRA.

As one blog sums it:


In this regard we are in fact a naive people, well-aware of our own tragedies but scarce in realizing our role in the world, both positive and negative.

It's even happening now, with the right-wing support of the Kurdish cause running right into legitimate Turkish concerns about Kurdish separatists/terrorists.

Moan and groan about some loose words from an "elite" all you want, but life is never as simple as you'd like.


Posted by Hope Muntz | October 23, 2007 11:54 AM

Agree with Jerry in principle, though I find Lessing's stature as a 'giant' arguable. Even her best works are permeated by her quirky stylistic affectations and even quirkier political ones. And to be brutally honest, she doesn't really write very good science fiction. Someday whatever is left of literate society will look back at the British (and Colonial) Lefty as one of the most bizarre and intellectually sterile self-caricatures of history. Personally I would have preferred to see the award go to Iris Murdoch, whom I consider to be the greatest of British postwar writers. She was a leftie too (with a little l), but you'd never suspect it from her canon, which not only was devoid of any political comment but also of all topical references, brand names, TV shows, etc., giving it the same kind of grand timeless feeling you get from Shakespeare.

But hey, nobody on the Nobel committees actually reads books anyway.

Posted by Eric Forhan | October 23, 2007 12:04 PM

It figures leftists would come in here en-masse, apparently not seeing a difference between roughly 3000 dead in a single attack by foreign nationals and around 3800 over 30 years.

Thirty years. Single attack. Foreign nationals.


Posted by Fred the Fourth | October 23, 2007 1:02 PM

Lessing's not a complete loon. Read her essays in the period after the USSR fell apart. She ends one, at least, by remarking that the western leftist's infatuation with communism was quasi-religious, and wondering what would replace it? (e.g. Global Warming, anyone?)

Posted by mssrrenard | October 23, 2007 1:07 PM

I think she deserves the prize for literature even if her more recent efforts are not as groundbreaking as her older novels. Her comments on 9-11 are pretty silly but I understand her reaction to America's sudden desire to tackle terrorism after 9-11. Her views on Iran are pretty strident and her views on Blair merely reflect what most Brits think about him.

The Prov. IRA killed many more than 700 people and many thousands were maimed. I lost friends in 9-11. Saying it was merely 700 is at least as insulting as saying that the US should get over 9-11.

"Britain did react strongly against the terrorists Doris mentions -- by sending large numbers of troops into Northern Ireland. Britain took strong action, invading the terrorists' native lands and using military force against them."

Errr no... go read up on why troops were originally sent to Northern Ireland and what their mission was. Also, the deployment of troops made things worse, especially after the Bloody Sunday massacre. It was never deemed to be as successful as penetrating the IRA and using the SAS and MI5. Perhaps the British should have bombed NORAID or assassinated a few Congressmen. Mechanical Eye provides an excellent link which clearly illustrates why Doris uses the term naive to describe the aftermath.

Finally, she picked up an award for her literature... not her sensitivity to American feelings on 9-11.

Posted by Eric Forhan | October 23, 2007 1:17 PM


Ed was writing that the IRA killed 700 more than 9/11 -- not only 700 total.

Most Americans definitely were asleep before 9/11. Neither the 9/11 event or the 30 years of IRA attacks should be demeaned to some sort of urinating contest.

Posted by Tom W. | October 23, 2007 2:41 PM

In terms of physical destruction and propaganda value, bringing down the Twin Towers was unprecedented in the history of modern terrorism.

It also cost our economy as much as a trillion dollars.

I think that justifies our "obsession" with 9/11.

The people who accuse Americans of not being sensitive enough to the horrors of he world are also the ones who consistently belittle what we experienced on 9/11.

It's more of that liberal moral confusion. They accuse us of barbarism and then cheer on terrorists. They scream of intolerance and then disrupt speakers who disagree with them. They howl about lies, and then they lie as they breathe.

"It's different when I do it" is the leftist credo.

Posted by KW64 | October 23, 2007 2:45 PM

9/11 was an attack on our government as well. Does she not realize this? The one plane hit the pentagon and the one that went down in Pennsylvania was also aimed at a government target. But why is violence aimed at the innocent civilians working peaceful jobs at the WTC in a nation not at war any better in the first place? Targeted violence, while abhorrent, is more predictable and understandable and thus easier to cope with. Directionless violence is more horrible IMO.

The fact that we lost only 3000 instead of 20,000 is only a matter of how fast the buildings fell and due to some quick action getting trains out of the tunnels below. Doesn't the terrorists' intent count for something as well?

Posted by Mike M. | October 23, 2007 2:59 PM

I once spoke to an Englishman, a fairly fervent young Tory, and the topic came to the IRA. Quite a few British still remember how congressman in the east coast would support the IRA and how little the federal government did anything about it. He was as pro-American as they came but he (and I) noticed the sheer hypocrisy of the more-Irish-than-thou Americans supporting "freedom fighters" like the IRA.

America is one of the largest and most diverse nations on earth, with people from every corner of the world. If you want to, you can find people to support darn near almost any cause, no matter how whacky and depraved. Heck, in World War II there were people here who supported Hitler, such as the German-American Bund. It isn't right, but unfortunately it's the way some people are.

I distinctly recall most of America being pretty supportive of Great Britain during the dark days of I.R.A. bombings. Certainly Ronald Reagan (an Irish-American) stood shoulder to shoulder with P.M. Thatcher in fighting against all terrorism, including the I.R.A.

As for we Americans being naive and simple and not understanding the complexities of the world, the condescension really does get tiresome after a while.

Posted by PHB | October 23, 2007 6:36 PM

You think nobody has forgotten the IRA?

Rudy Giuliani was an avid supporter. He helped them raise money for their campaign of murder. He gave Gerry Adams the 'Crystal Apple' in recognition of his work for 'humanitarian causes'.

And now folk seem to think he is a viable Presidential candidate on an anti-terrorism platform.

Posted by unclesmrgol | October 23, 2007 11:08 PM

Mike M.,

As you point out, most Americans stood on Britain's side once the Republic of Ireland was established and forswore the North. As a Catholic, I deplored the mistreatment of my co-religionists at the hands of the orangemen, yet I felt there were better ways of winning civil rights than to bomb and shoot innocent civilians, few of which were responsible for the problems the terrorists were trying to fix.

But if you meet an IRA supporter here in the USA who shipped money or "goods" into the North, you see the legacy the Copperheads left us -- Irish Democratic IRA supporters.

Posted by lexhamfox | October 24, 2007 12:09 AM

I can't recall the British welcoming AQ to Parliament or allowing politicians to chair organizations raising money for terrorists who attacked the US. Peter King was a senior member of NORAID and a Republican. Peter King said that Europeans were naive about terrorism. I find it ironic that Ed is so upset about Doris's comments which were immediately qualified and put into context.

Posted by mags | October 24, 2007 9:46 AM

This has always been a huge issue in the u.k.
On 9/11 one of the first questions put to blair was,'do you think they will view terrorism differently.'
The i.r.a bombed a church during a remembrance service for war dead many killed and maimed,they bombed harrod's on christmas eve.
Politically ,very nearly got thatcher but killed other m.p's(that's were the saying 'you have to be lucky all the time,we[i.r.a)have to be lucky once.
They killed lord mountbatton the queens cousin and his granson.
During this time the money and gun's flowed from the u.s.In bars you could get drinks like 'car bomb and 'kill a brit'.
Our country has pleaded with your leaders to not provide visa's for sinnfein to fund raise.
There is still wanted i.r.a terrorists in the u.s that you refuse to extradite.
We have every reason to feel this way. Many in the u.k balked at the thought of being 'shoulder to shoulder'
To dismiss this time by mocking smaller numbers in deaths compared to 9/11 is disgusting but typical.
You don't have to kill people to cause terror. Ever been in a bomb scare.Also you now see what blast injuries do,and how mental health deterioates in war.
Northern ireland is tiny compared to the u.s,very very few families were not affected in some way.
Peter king threw a 50th birthday party for gerry adams.
If your looking for something on hiliary clinton,if i remember it right we had to watch her greet warmly hug and kiss martin mcguiness-a self confessed i.r.a commander.
The irony of it all,is that it was the i.r.a that invented the road side bomb,all terrorist groups share information.
How on earth were we supposed to take the 'with us or against us' comment.
Lessing is saying what most of us believe ,there was terrorism before 9/11 or is it only terrorism when americans get killed.

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