DORIS LESSING/THE GRASS IS SINGING/E/D/I

When Doris Lessing died I just had to take up “THE GRASS IS SINGING” one of her books I especially like.

Als Doris Lessing starb, musste ich “THE GRASS IS SINGING” oder „Afrikanische Tragödie“, eines ihrer Bücher, das mir speziell gefällt, einfach wieder zur Hand nehmen.

For audio and questions you can see further down this page.You can also download my short wordlist/Ihr könnt auch meine kurze Wortschatzliste herunterladen/

Allego anche la mia breve lista con vocaboli che potrebbe facilitare la comprensione, soprattutto alle persone di lingua italiana.WordlistRhodesia

Sudafrica03 125

When Doris Lessing died I just had to take up “THE GRASS IS SINGING” one of here books I especially like. The writer brought it from Rhodesia, a former English British colony located in southern Africa, which is now called Zimbabwe,when she went to England in 1950.

Als Doris Lessing starb, musste ich “THE GRASS IS SINGING” oder „Afrikanische Tragödie“, eines ihrer Bücher, das mir speziell gefällt, einfach wieder zur Hand nehmen. Die Schriftstellerin brachte es aus Rhodesien, einer früheren britischen Kolonie,  im Süden Afrikas, dem jetzigen Zimbabwe, als sie 1950 nach England ging.

 The story is, therefore, set in that country and on a completely remote farm. We, the readers, are immediately informed about the murder of Mary Turner, Dick Turner’s wife and we also know that the black houseboy Moses is the murderer. So we know how the story ends but what we do not know is the WHY of the crime and I think this is really not an easy question to answer.

 Die Geschichte spielt sich deshalb in diesem Land ab und dazu auf einer total verlassenen Farm. Wir, die Leser, werden sofort über den Mord an Mary Turner, Dick Turner’s Frau, informiert und wir wissen auch, dass der schwarze Hausangestellte Moses der Mörder ist.

Wir wissen also, wie die Geschichte endet, aber was wir nicht wissen, ist  das WARUM des Mordes und ich denke, dass es wirklich nicht einfach ist, diese Frage zu beantworten.

Dick Turner loves his soil and trees! F.Ramsauer

Dick Turner loves his soil and trees! F.Ramsauer

Let’s go back to the beginning of the story.

Dick Turner loves his soil and his hundreds of acres of trees of which he is part, whereas his wife Mary  hates the bush and she sees it all only from the outside, as if it was a money making machine. They are very poor and Mary wants to have children to overcome her solitude but in the desperate financial situation not even this seems to be possible.  For her it’s absolutely necessary that her husband is successful and not a failure. (Page 122/123)

 Lasst uns also an den Anfang der Geschichte zurückgehen.

Dick Turner liebt seine Erde und die Hunderten von Morgen Bäume, die ein Teil von ihm sind, während dem seine Frau Mary den Busch hast und alles nur von aussen sieht, als ob es sich nur um eine geldmachende Maschine handelte. Sie sind sehr arm und Mary möchte ein Kind, um ihr zu helfen die Einsamkeit zu überwinden, aber in der verzweifelten finanziellen Situation scheint auch das nicht möglich zu sein. Für sie ist es ein absolutes Muss, dass ihr Ehemann er- folgreich ist und kein Versager. (Seite 122/123)

The couple, however, doesn’t go out of their miseries, on the contrary, Dick get’s sick with malaria and they can’t even pay the doctor’s bill or follow the advice he gives them. Mary has to supervise the black workers who she despises and is really cruel with them. The vegetation is more and more encroaching onto their surrounding. (Page 109-112) and the flies are everywhere.

Mary is also getting worse and more and more dependent on Moses the last servant they have, despite the fact that she is a racist and in fact has been trying to avoid him as much as possible. We also see that Moses tone in his voice has changed, has become more familiar, half insolent, domineering. (Page 167) He also wants to be appreciated. Charlie, Dick’s friend and neighbour recommends to sack Moses because  the first law in South Africa was  as follows: “

Thou shalt not let your fellow whites sink lower than a certain point; because if you do, the nigger will see he is as good as you are.”(Page 178)

Das Ehepaar, kommt jedoch nicht aus seinen Miseren heraus, im Gegenteil, Dick bekommt auch Malaria und sie können nicht einmal die Arztrechnung bezahlen, verschwiegen den Ratschlägen des Arztes folgen. Mary muss die schwarzen Arbeiter überwachen, die sie verachtet und sie ist wirklich grausam mit ihnen. The Vegetation überwuchert die Umgebung und die Fliegen sind überall. (Seiten 109-112)

Mary wird auch mehr und mehr abhängig von Moses, dem letzten Dienstboten, den sie haben, obwohl sie Rassistin ist und auch versucht hat Moses so gut, wie möglich auszuweichen. Wir sehen auch, dass der Ton in Moses Stimme sich verändert hat. Er ist familiärer geworden, ein bisschen frech, beherrschend. (Seite 167) Er möchte auch geschätzt werden.

Charlie, Freund und Nachbar von Dick, empfiehlt diesem Moses zu entlassen, weil das wichtigste Gesetzt  in Südafrika so lautete: Du sollst deinen weissen Freund nicht tiefer als bis zu einem gewissen Punkt sinken lassen; da, wenn du es tust, der Neger sehen wird, dass er so gut ist, wie du.” (Seite 167)

The vegetation is taking over!

The vegetation is taking possession of the dead tree/Picture F.Ramsauer

Later on, Tony, the man who should take care of the farm as the Turner’s are really leaving, even observes that Moses dresses and Mary and is completely shocked. Tony then orders Moses to go away and Mary, regains some of her command and also tells him to live. When Moses asks her whether it is true that she is going she also affirms that she is not coming back anymore.

Später beobachtet Tony, der Mann, der sich um Farm kümmern soll, da die Turners wirklich im Begriff sind wegzugehen, sogar, dass Moses Mary anzieht und ist komplett schockiert und befiehlt Moses wegzugehen und Mary erlangt wieder ein bisschen Kontrolle und bestätigt, dass er gehen soll. Als Moses sie fragt, ob es wahr sei, dass sie fortgehe, sagt sie ihm, dass sie nie mehr zurückkomme.

Listen to the audio and answer the following questions:

1.     Who is Moses?

2.     Does Mary or Dick love the soil?

3.     What is Rhodesia called now?

4.     Is the couple capable of improving the financial situation?

5.     How many children do they have?

6.     Why does Moses kill Mary according to you?

Summary to download/Zusammenfassung zum Herunterladen:THE GRASS IS SINGING

I decided to publish this post today in honour to the death of Nelson Mandela, this very outstanding man and statesman.

Ich habe entschieden diesen Beitrag heute zum Tod zu Nelson Mandela, diesem aussergewähnlichen Menschen und Staatsmann, zu veröffentlichen. 

Ho deciso di pubblicare questo mio contributo oggi in onore della morte di Neslon Mandela, questo uomo ed uomo di stato straordinario.

 Oggi pensiamo sicuramente anche al signor Nelson Mandela, grande uomo e uomo di stato.

11 replies »

  1. I have been tempted in the past to read her, but with so many things that I am reading, well you know, I am sure you are familiar, with skipping certain authors for the time being, unfortunately with so many things to do, and with the large amount of unread books, that keep growing on my place everywhere! 🙂

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    • There was a time, when I had some hope that giving the power back to the black people in Rhodesia or Zimbawe! Unfortunately, Mugabe’s long reign has proved me that I was completely wrong!
      One can’t do everything in life!! :)Thank you very much for your words. Martina

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, some things have a way to move forward very slow, specially those with roots in different cultures, and totally different in their development, adopting modernity, for ancestral cultures, has proven to be a great challenge, and despite globalization, exist a great gap to catch up, imagine, Hypermodernity, Metamodernism, Posthumanism, Post-materialism, Post-postmodernism, Post-structuralism, and now who knows what?
    In cultures who where practically hunter gathers, or agrarian, with no Renaissance, or Industrial revolution, just imagine.
    Yes, you are right, Martina, we cannot do everything in life! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a while that I have realized that this globalisation very frequently doesn’t bring a better life to the poor people of a country, on the contrary, the small farmers can’t sell their precious indigenous products anymore, because they are imported by the big,rich countries for a lower price!!! Maybe we should really go back and become berry pickers and hunters again and so just harvest or kill what we need. Maybe in this way, the dictators in Africa, sustained by the West, would become superfluous! What illusions I have!!!

      Like

  3. Maybe you are aware of a lot of college professors arguing that agricultural settlements, and the beginning of civilization as we know it today, was a step back, and that hunter gatherers lived better, more efficient life on the whole, example:

    https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/10/01/551018759/are-hunter-gatherers

    Myself very dubious, regardless if it was better, that most people would like to return to such life, including myself, as I write this I am seating comfortable, and cozy, with my hot cinnamon espresso, with cream in front of my computer, and I didn’t even have the problem to make it, but just walked to the cafe half a block from home, having it with the delicious home bake oatmeal cookies a friend of mine gave me as a present, and as soon as I finish my daily shore of WordPress blogging, I will go back to my books, until I got to cook diner.

    Hardly see, I would prefer the job of picking up all my small, but heavy bundle of property, and walk miles on end, foraging for uncertain, and unappetizing meal, of raw worms, or the likes, and not having the sybarite, mind stimulus, of reading a wonderful book, instead of listening for the umpteenth time the monotonous chant, of the not so good smelling members of my party, and facing a cold, rainy, or worst night outdoors..! 😦

    Thanks, but no thanks! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ecuse me please for my late answer, but I am not so fast these days! I am, however, a little bit jealous due to your delicious home bake oatmeal cookies!! (You made me smile)You know, I grew up among farmers and went away to see a more intellectual world, but I am rather disappointed about what the human being has been doing lately with all his knowledge! The farmers in my region of origins haven’t turned into bis big industrial producers where meet and vegetables have become poisonous and I am, therefore convinced, that those simple people are far more intelligent than others. I have also read “Sapiens” by Mr. Harari, who writes that the hunter-gatherers were the mose intelligent people ever, because thtey had to find out about new plants on a daily basis! The Khoisons were certainly not as stressed as many of our western compatriotes, because they had practically not needs!! I am still fascinated about the place, where they still live!
      Personally, I am happy when I can work in my garden, se how the vegetable grows, harvest and eat all this delicious things instead of running to and from supermarkets. Of course, it’s also precious to read your very deep thoughts for which I thank you very much.:)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Both my Grandfathers were farmers, but more like Hacendados (big rich landowners) they were born close to the Earth, and in very humble circumstances, but as adults, very successful, and already contaminated with the idea of ‘progress’ and that more, was a lot better, since their humble background, they did the best of what they thought was better for them, and their families.
    However they both died sort of early, (before my birth) so I only met my Grandmothers, truly from farm roots, with little pretensions, living a wealthy life, but totally ignorant of city life, and pretentious living, surrounded in their small villages by simple country living, one so rich, she could have lived in Europe with luxury, instead she would woke up every day at 5:00AM to do her many chores like feeding her many barnyard fowl, and attending to her big, beautiful garden, where she mixed the practical, as growing diverse vegetables, with the beauty of flowers, and shade trees.
    I never knew her a servant, she did all by herself, when she could have dozens of them, quite an extraneous job, for such a big property, occasionally she would hire a man to do some specific heavy work, where some specialized skill was needed, but she kept that routine, until the day she died in 1973. As a child I have some happy memories, on vacations we will travel often to visit both Grandmothers, and we would help both in their daily rural work, so, I am familiar with that life, but far removed from it, now day.
    My point, I do not argue is a bad life, or not the right thing to do, in my youth I was drawn to the hardships of adventure, and exercise, loved the sea, and thought to dedicate my life as an explorer of the Oceans, a la Jacques Costeau, well before he become a popular item. Plus a I did a few other eccentricities of mine.

    I believe, we all men we have a destiny, and my calling was somewhere else, more on the Spiritual, and intellectual side of it.

    However, after 31 years of living in Los Angeles, moved to a small town, to be in a more peaceful environment, and if I would have the money, which I don’t, I would buy me a place just like my Grandmothers, even in a more rural setting, than where I am now, although very likely would hire a few hands to help me! 🙂

    Thanks Martina! 🙂

    Like

    • You know, while I was reding your absolute touching story I got goose pimples. I thank you so much for all what you have told me and which I consider very precious and I can feel with your past quite a lot, despite the fact that I am not an explorer of the sea, but I can swim quite well! I wish you some good years to come in Mexico.:)

      Liked by 1 person

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