The Good Terrorist

Doris Lessing was born in 1919 in Persia. Her father worked in Persia in a bank but he decided to move his family to Rhodesia to give a better education to his children. Because of eye trouble, Doris Lessing left school and started to be educated at home at thirteen years old. At sixteen years old, she worked as a typist for a telephone company. Lessing has been married twice and has had three children. When her second husband was killed in a demonstration against Idi Amin, she established herself in London and started to write.

The work of Doris Lessing is reputated to have an autobiographical basis. Her most popular novel is The Golden Notebook. It is about a woman who wrote in different diaries about the many aspects of her life: a red notebook for the politics, a black one for her artistic life, a yellow one for her emotional statements and a blue one for her ordinary life. The golden notebook is a summary of all those diaries. This novel has been an inspiration for feminists even though Lessing does not consider herself as one.

The Good Terrorist is a novel about a group of young people who live in London outside of society in a house restored by Alice, the main character of the book. They claim themselves communists and wish to be members of the I.R.A. They go to many strikes and throw bombs in public areas to show their disapproval towards the capitalist system.

This novel criticizes modern society for not being able to integrate individuals that do not share the same values as the majority. Alice, a young woman of thirty-six years old, unmarried, who has been to university but still has no job, is a good example of this.

You can not read this novel without thinking of Osama bin Laden. Like Alice and her gang, Bin Laden is revolting against the materialistic mentality of the Americans and he committed terrorist acts to show his disagreement. I liked this book because it gave me another point of view towards the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

For the first time in my life since reading books, I find the main character of a book is a very smart woman. Alone, Alice can convince the police, the rebels, and the bureaucrats without fail. This is good news for women's cause!

If ever you are interested in reading a short story by Lessing about the transformation of perceptions of airplanes by a black man from Africa and a girl from Afghanistan or read an interview with the author, consult the following:

By Chantal Renaud


Lessing, Doris. "Events in the Skies." Harper's March 1998: 30-2.

Lessing, Doris. La Terroriste. Trans. Marianne Véron. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986.

Tyler, Christian. "The One and Only Doris Lessing." The Financial Post 22 Oct. 1994: S6.