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Shikasta: Re, Colonised Planet 5 (Vintage International) Paperback


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More from Doris Lessing
With subtle observations and wry wit, Doris Lessing's work has earned her the Nobel Prize in Literature. Visit Amazon's Doris Lessing Page.

Product Details

  • Series: Vintage International
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (August 12, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394749774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394749778
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #387,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“An audacious and disturbing work from one of the world’s great living writers.” –Paul Gray, Time“A stunning book…. Read it, read Lessing like a message of hope in dark times…read her for a winter’s evening entertainment; read her to nourish your soul.” –Frank Pierson, Los Angeles Times“If the subsequent novels sustain the power of Shikasta…this series may well be a masterpiece.” –The Atlantic

About the Author

Doris Lessing was born of British parents in Persia, in 1919, and moved with her family to Southern Rhodesia when she was five years old. She went to England in 1949 and has lived there ever since. She is the author of more than thirty books—novels, stories, reportage, poems, and plays. In 2007, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
14
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See all 24 customer reviews
This book will make you tremble.
J. W. Kennedy
This is a true work of spirituality- that is bringing the heart and the intellect together, without resorting to easy answers.
J Kevin Doyle
Great storytelling, epic themes.
Philip

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Philip Challinor on October 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
Shikasta is the first, the largest (in bulk and in scope) and the most epic of the quintet collectively titled Canopus in Argos: Archives. It's a stunning work, one of the very few science-fiction novels to show any awareness of the cosmic perspective of Olaf Stapledon (Last and First Men, Star Maker), let alone adapt it into another, wholly independent vision. Shikasta is the name Canopus use for Earth; the word means broken, wounded, suffering. The book falls into two parts. The first is a science-fiction revision of the Old Testament, an astounding overview of the Canopean Empire's colonising efforts over vast forgotten tracts of time which have come down to us as fossilised, distorted myths. It makes for a breathtaking two hundred pages, rivalled for sheer dizzying cosmicism only by Stapledon, the best of Lovecraft and some of Stanislaw Lem. The second part of the book is the story of the Sherban family during the last days of Western civilisation; and particularly the story of George Sherban, an agent of Canopus who (as many times before) has taken on human shape in order to guide the evolution of the human race. Sherban's efforts, observed through the bewildered but movingly sympathetic eyes of his sister Rachel, and later by a thoughtful and humane Chinese colonial administrator, culminate in a vast show trial of the white races (the natives of what the Canopeans, with a fine sense of perspective, call "the Northwest fringes") for thousands of years of horrific oppression. Despite the glorious writing, admirable originality and a total refusal to settle for easy answers, I'm not altogether sure this second part quite comes off - after the merciless dissection of human frailties in Part One, it just doesn't seem credible for Sherban's scheme to work.Read more ›
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've read this book so many times over the years that by now I'm quite astonished to find it never loses its impact. It seems very much alive and growing to the challenge of a better understanding on my part. You may not like the perspective. However, accurate observation and a profound knowledge of human behavior and aim will disregard the wrapping they are delivered in. To call this a "Science Fiction" book is misleading. It is easier to read a newspaper at a certain distance from your face - and so it is perhaps easier to accept and digest the most uncomfortable facts about human society (and yourself) if the author goes about her business describing those from an outer-space-view. It's too close for comfort - and a most exciting and rewarding read.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Lessing's criticism of the twentieth century is pointed, somtimes funny, and ultimately hopeful. The other four books in her 'Canopus' series are much stronger, though.

Shikasta - the outsider's name for Earth - is presented in a series of vingettes, case studies, and partial exchanges of letters. Perhaps the intent was to create a mosaic from those many pieces. I just found it fragmentary; somehow, it never formed a whole, coherent image for me. Also, this book is longer than the others in the set. In those, Lessing makes her points concisely; this book's increased length just gave more of the poor organization.

I recently re-read the other four books (not the proper order of the set of five), and came away more impressed than ever. Singly and as a set, they are wonderful. I'm glad I read this one last. If I had read this before the others I might not have bothered with them - that would have been a true loss on my part.

I recommend the Canopus series most highly. The other books are among the finest literature I know. It is unfortunate that Shikasta does not rise to their standards, and it would be sad if a new reader judged the series by it's first member.

//wiredweird
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've read this book so many times over the years that by now I'm quite astonished to find it never loses its impact. It seems very much alive and growing to the challenge of a better understanding on my part. You may not like the perspective. However, accurate observation and a profound knowledge of human behavior and aim will disregard the wrapping they are delivered in. To call this a "Science Fiction" book is misleading. It is easier to read a newspaper at a certain distance from your face - and so it is perhaps easier to accept and digest the most uncomfortable facts about human society (and yourself) if the author goes about her business describing those from an outer-space-view. It's too close for comfort - and a most exciting and rewarding read.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J Kevin Doyle on June 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
I don't read a whole lot of novels, and truth be told I've never been able to read anything else of Lessing's. Yet this book remains indelible and forever in my heart. Lessing herself said that this work felt born through her as much as from her, and considering the discrimination and intellect of the woman, I take that as a powerful statement.
And truly visionary this work is- it's able to zoom into the heart and process of darkness in our contemporary world without comprimise, then give the reader a view from above without sentiment or easy platitudes, with compassion and true insight.
This is a true work of spirituality- that is bringing the heart and the intellect together, without resorting to easy answers. May each one of us aspire to the dedication and tireless compassion as does Johor in order to benefit beings.
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