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The Reflexive Mind in Doris Lessing’s Landlocked > Poem and Novel

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Brevet, Dr Anne-Laure 


Doris Lessing’s poem “Landlocked” was published on December, 20th 1946 in the daily newspaper New Rhodesia and remains little known as it was not included in the 1959 Fourteen Poems collection. Plausibly, one of the reasons for this omission could be that it was used by the author nearly two decades afterwards as material for the themes, motives and imagery of Landlocked, the penultimate novel of The Children of Violence series published in 1965. Rediscovering the poem is important because a close study of its early imagery, in comparison with its reappearance in the novel, shows how the author initiated a narrative technique which had considerable impact on her work. Both her descriptions and narrative contents were not merely realistic but offered a subjective perception of reality based on mirror images and reversed reflections. Such novelty enabled the writer to reach beyond the sequentially autobiographical narrative of The Children of Violence by opening up an oneiric and poetic dimension to subsequent novels which seemingly originated in the empowered protagonist’s creative mind. On a referential level, the poem disclosing a vision of the sky turning into the sea (l. 10-11) and of tree flowers becoming spume (l. 35) reveals what the young poet dares not express but clearly states in the novel through Martha Quest’s sea dream – her need to leave the country. While the term “landlocked” thereby symbolises her imprisonment in the land, the sea imagery represents the heroine’s voyage towards a new life in England.



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Doris Lessing Studies

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The Doris Lessing Society

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