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Year First Published: 1978
First Published by:Alfred A. Knopf
Category:Short Stories
This Edition:American first edition

From the book jacket:

This major collection by one of the most important writers of our time contains all of Doris Lessing's short fiction other than the stories set in Africa, from the beginning of her career until now.

These stories, in their rich variety of background and mood, are set in London, Paris, the south of France, the English countryside; and the themes that have always characterized Doris Lessing's work are vividly represented: men and women possessed by love or driven into obsessive encounters by lust or chance or needs they can barely trace; the bedrock realities of marriage in which serious, thoughtful, interesting people are trying to find out what they are doing with, and to, each other; what they really want, what they have to give; the fate of women; the crisis of the individual whose very psyche is threatened by a society unattuned to its own most dangerous qualities; the irrevocable moments of decision that somehow identify someone's fundamental character or destiny. Lessing's people are instantly recognizable and real - actresses, journalists, a T.V. producer, an aging rake, an old woman poorer than poor, a little diamond cutter, an elderly gentleman in Regent's Park, and always the couples - married, having affairs, having ended affairs - whose emotional progress she traces with an uncanny and unerring intelligence about the ways in which relationships proceed and feel, how they alternatively repress and provoke that self-knowledge which is crucial to the development of character and spirit.

"Her grasp of what is actually happening in the world is ministerial," wrote Margaret Drabble. "Doris Lessing is one of the very few novelists who have refused to believe that the world is too complicated to understand."

Here are thirty-five stories, ranging from short, resonant sketches to the superb novellas, The Temptation of Jack Orkney and The Other Woman (the latter never published before in America). They constitute a major aspect of Doris Lessing's work, powerfully conveying the uncompromising vision of one of the most passionately admired writers in the world today.

The stories in this book were taken from the following previously published anthologies:

The story "The Witness" does not appear in the British edition of the collected stories. However, they contain a story called "Out of the Fountain" which is not included in the American edition.

  • Three of these stories were made into a film in 1991.

Also see the British Edition:

Included in this Edition:

The Habit of Loving
The Woman
Through the Tunnel
The Witness (does not appear in British collection)
The Day Stalin Died
The Eye of God in Paradise
The Other Woman
One Off the Short List
A Woman on a Roof
How I Finally Lost My Heart
A Man and Two Women
A Room
England versus England
Two Potters
Between Men
Our Friend Judith
Each Other
Homage for Isaac Babel
Outside the MInistry
Notes for a Case History
To Room Nineteen
An Old Woman and Her Cat
Side Benefits of an Honourable Profession
A Year in Regent's Park
Report on the Threatened City
Mrs. Fortescue
An Unposted Love Letter
Lions, Leaves, Roses...
Not a Very Nice Story
The Other Garden
The Temptation of Jack Orkney