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The Memoirs of A Survivor

Year First Published: 1974
First Published by:Octagon
This Edition:British first edition

From the book jacket:

"An attempt at autobiography', says Doris Lessing, describing her new book, which has qualities that make it seem like a fable or a magical tale, but is square in that ancient tradition where the storyteller's leap into the fantastic has, but the rules, to be made from a ground of the most solid reality. Here, though, reality is the very day of a few years hence, when barbarism is what is normal, and each of us has to fight for survival - men, women, and even little children who are so brutalised by necessity they are more frightening than the ferocious adults. From her windows the narrator watches things fall apart, sees the migrating hordes seethe past in search of safety, the shelter, the good life that is always somewhere else - far from the anarchy of this emptying city where people huddle together in tribes for self-defense, where plants and animals are taking over deserted streets and houses. She also watches over the child Emily, brought into her care by a stranger who instructs: "Look after her, she is your responsibility," before vanishing. Emily - who, by the time the story is told, has become a beautiful world-worn young woman not yet sixteen - is also guarded by Hugo, half cat and half dog, "Emily's animal," the bizarre and lovable beast whose presence dominates this tale.
  • This book was made into a film in 1981 starring Julie Christie, directed by David Gladwell.
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