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Journal Article

Doris Lessing's "Briefing for a Descent into Hell": Science Fiction or Psycho-Drama? ("Briefing for a Descent into Hell" de Doris Lessing, science-fiction ou psychodrame?)

Katherine Fishburn
Science Fiction Studies
Vol. 15, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 48-60
Published by: SF-TH Inc
Stable URL: http:/stable/4239858
Page Count: 13
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Doris Lessing's "Briefing for a Descent into Hell": Science Fiction or Psycho-Drama? ("Briefing for a Descent into Hell" de Doris Lessing, science-fiction ou psychodrame?)
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Abstract

Bien que "Briefing for a Descent into Hell" de Doris Lessing comprenne de nombreuses techniques et idées que nous retrouvons dans sa série de science-fiction "Canopus in Argos", la majorité des critiques ne considèrent pas ce roman comme de la science-fiction; ils en parlent plutôt comme une genre de psychodrame intellectuellement exigeant et sophistiqué. Cette lecture, orientée vers la psychologie, dépend en partie de la ressemblance entre ce roman et les récits de schizophrénie de R.D. Laing ainsi que de l'hésitation même de Lessing à identifier le genre auquel ce roman appartient. Aussi attirant que cela puisse paraître, l'interprétation psychologique ne permet pas d'expliquer de façon satisfaisante les multiples réalités qui coexistent mais qui sont souvent conflictuelles. A cause des limites du genre, lire Briefing comme un psychodrame diminue la tension dialectique entre le texte et le lecteur qui est au coeur même de la signification de ce roman complexe. Par contre, le lire en tant que science-fiction peut rendre compte des nombreuses réalités dès que nous leur accordons une existence réelle et ainsi la structure dialectique est maintenue. A l'encontre d'une lecture psychologique, le lecture de Briefing du point de vue de la science-fiction défie notre compréhension de la réalité et exige de nous un changement radical dans notre façon de voir le monde. Bien que le défi posé à notre manière de comprendre le monde soit plus explicite dans "Canopus in Argos", c'est également une composante importante de Briefing, tel que le révèle une lecture par le biais de la science-fiction. /// Although Doris Lessing's "Briefing for a Descent into Hell" anticipates many of the techniques and ideas found in her "Canopus in Argos" SF series, most critics do not regard it as SF per se, treating it instead as a kind of intellectually demanding and sophisticated psycho-drama. This psychologically-oriented reading is suggested in part by the resemblance between Briefing and R.D. Laing's accounts of schizophrenia and by Lessing's own reluctance to identify what she believes its genre to be. Inviting though it appears, a psychological interpretation nonetheless fails to account adequately for the novel's multiple, co-existing, and often conflicting realities. Because of the limitations of the genre, reading Briefing as psychodrama also reduces the dialectical tension between text and reader that is central to the meaning of this complex novel. Reading it as SF, on the other hand, helps to account for the multiple realities by asking us to accept them as literally real; and this maintains the novel's dialectical structure. Unlike a psychological reading, an SF reading of Briefing challenges our understanding of reality itself, thus requiring a fundamental change in the way we view the world. Although this challenge to our world-view is perhaps most explicit in "Canopus in Argos," it is also an important component of Briefing-as an SF reading demonstrates.

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