The Crisis of an Old Order: Gender, Sexual Relations, and Reproduction in Lessing's The Cleft

Imke Brust, Haverford College


This article addresses Doris Lessing's depiction of gender, sexual relations, and reproduction in her controversial book The Cleft (2007). The novel challenges its readers to empathize heteropathically - as Kaja Silverman defines the term - across gender, outside of time, place, and outside the corporeal parameters of self (25-37). While Lessing's novel clearly speaks to issues of gender, it also complicates the notion of history and points to the paradox that the story of human history is primarily a male-dominated discourse. --author-supplied description