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Guide Plotting Terror: Novelists and Terrorists in Contemporary Fiction

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Drawing on Lewis Carroll 's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in The International Fiction Review , she wrote that "[Lessing's] Alice with her group of political revolutionaries can be seen as a serious fantasy which has striking parallels to Carroll's Alice ". The American novelist Judith Freeman wrote that one of the common themes in The Good Terrorist is that of keeping one's identity in a collective , of preserving "individual conscience".

Freeman said that Alice is a "quintessential good woman Another theme present is the symbolic nature of the house. England is represented by a house in London". Several critics have focused on the theme of motherhood. Rogers added that motherhood is depicted here as a compulsion to protect the weak, despite their propensity to retaliate and hurt you. Feminist themes and the subjugation of women have also been associated with The Good Terrorist. Scanlan indicated that while many of the comrades in the book are women, they find that political activity does not elevate their position, and that they are "trapped in the patriarchy they despise".

Several critics have called The Good Terrorist ' s title an oxymoron. Robert Boschman suggested it is indicative of Alice's "contradictory personality" [37] — she renovates the squat's house, yet is bent on destroying society. Kuehn described Alice as "well-intentioned, canny and sometimes lovable", [3] but as someone who, at 36, never grew up, and is still dependent on her parents. Boschman called Lessing's narrative " ironic " [43] because it highlights the divide between who Alice is and who she thinks she is, and her efforts to pretend there is no discrepancy.

Knapp stated that while Lessing exposes self-styled insurrectionists as "spoiled and immature products of the middle class", [39] she also derides their ineptness at affecting any meaningful change. Critical opinion has been divided on The Good Terrorist. Elizabeth Lowry highlighted this in the London Review of Books : "[Lessing] has been sharply criticised for the pedestrian quality of her prose, and as vigorously defended".

Birmingham trio guilty of terrorist plot

Freeman on the other hand called the book a "graceful and accomplished story", [2] and a "brilliant account of the types of individuals who commit terrorist acts". Gross considered the female characters, particularly Alice, much more developed than the male ones.

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Amanda Sebestyen wrote in The Women's Review of Books that at first glance the ideas in The Good Terrorist appear deceptively simple, and the plot predictable. Writing in The Guardian , Rogers described The Good Terrorist as "a novel in unsparing close-up" that examines society through the eyes of individuals. Donoghue wrote in The New York Times that he did not care much about what happened to Alice and her comrades.

He felt that Lessing presents Alice as "an unquestioned rigmarole of reactions and prejudices", [17] which leaves no room for any further interest. He said Lessing's real interest is character development, but complained that the characters are "trivial or two-dimensional or crippled by self-delusions". The first paperback edition was published in the United Kingdom in September by Grafton.

British Terrorist Novels of the 1970s

An unabridged hour audio cassette edition , narrated by Nadia May, was released in the United States in April by Blackstone Audio. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Novel by Doris Lessing. Retrieved 7 November Los Angeles Times. Chicago Tribune. The Guardian.

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Broadview Press. Retrieved 17 February The New York Times. The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 September Kirkus Reviews. In Ridout, Alice; Watkins, Susan eds. Doris Lessing: Border Crossings. The Paris Review. Retrieved 18 March In the following interview with Dr. Lee Jarvis, he discusses the motivation behind writing this book, and its connection to his academic research on terrorism and conflict. The plot of my novel revolves around a secret, redacted transcript of an interrogation of a notorious terrorist by an MI5 agent called Michael.

The terrorist has infiltrated the United Kingdom and may be involved in a serious plot. Michael tries to get the truth out of him over the course of the night, but there is more going on than meets the eye. I also chose it because I felt that it would be a good vehicle for building tension, leaving clues and creating a series of narrative twists.


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I wanted the novel to be rooted in the thriller genre. It was a very conscious and deliberate decision to write a novel about terrorism at a particular point in my academic career. I had never considered it before.


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  • Project MUSE - Plotting Terror: Novelists and Terrorists in Contemporary Fiction (review).

After publishing eight academic books and dozens of articles, I realised that only a very small academic audience ever actually read my work and it had very little impact at all beyond the academy. I also noted that there were too few novels about terrorism that I could honestly recommend to my students as a way of animating and informing them about the subject. I therefore came to believe that writing my own novel might be a more effective way of reaching a wider audience and engaging my students.

How important was your academic background within the writing process, and did it make it any easier to write? My academic background was crucial to the writing process, because I used my accumulated knowledge of terrorism and terrorists to fully inform the character development, plot, etc. Access content through your institution.

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Literature and Terrorism by Julia Evergreen Keefer

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