Briefing for a Descent Into Hell (Paperback)

By Doris Lessing

Vintage Books USA, 9780307390615, 308pp.

Publication Date: July 14, 2009



In this ambitious novel of madness and release, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Doris Lessing imagines the fantastical "inner-space" life of an amnesiac.

Charles Watkins, a Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, has suffered a breakdown, confined to a mental hospital as his friends and doctors attempt to bring him back to reality. But Watkins has embarked on a tremendous pyschological adventure that takes him from a spinning raft in the Atlantic to a ruined stone city on a tropical island to an outer-space journey through singing planets. As he travels in his mind through memory and the farther reaches of imagination, his doctors try to subdue him with ever more powerful drugs in a competition for his soul. In this provocative novel, Lessing takes us on a harrowing voyage into the rarely glimpsed territory of the inner mind.

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.

Praise For Briefing for a Descent Into Hell

"Touching and beautiful."
The New York Review of Books

"A brilliant and untamed image of the possibilities that may still constitute man's destiny."

"An excursion into private consciousness . . . ending up in the darkest reaches of the unconscious at its most primitive."
The Washington Post Book World