Posted in Books and Writing

Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize speech: the love of books

If you love reading, you will appreciate the speech that Doris Lessing gave on December 8 when she accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature. It is printed in The Guardian, my favorite newspaper:

Last night Doris Lessing, aged 88, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In her acceptance speech she recalls her childhood in Africa and laments that children in Zimbabwe are starving for knowledge, while those in more privileged countries shun reading for the “inanities” of the internet.

To read the full speech, click here.

I am not as alarmed about people spending a lot of time on the Internet and losing their love for books. The Internet has done wonders for book lovers like me. It’s been much easier to discover books by writers I have never heard of. She does not address what’s truly alarming — that publishing houses today focus solely on profit. It is here that the Internet, as an alternative model of distribution and marketing, could help writers who do not write trashy bestsellers.

She says that writers need space to write and it is this space that is very difficult to find today in a world filled with distractions:

Writers are often asked: “How do you write? With a word processor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand?” But the essential question is: “Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write? Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas – inspiration.” If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn. When writers talk to each other, what they discuss is always to do with this imaginative space, this other time. “Have you found it? Are you holding it fast?”



Author of "The Secret of Angat", a novel set in the Philippines during World War II. Founder,; Founder ( - travel) and (beauty, style).

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