From Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the fifth and final instalment in the visionary novel cycle ‘Canopus in Argos: Archives’.
‘The Sentimental Agents …’ is set in the declining Volyen Empire as the empires of Sirius and Shammat compete to overwhelm it with rhetoric and false sentiment. The Canopean Empire deploys covert agents to help the Volyens resist. But one of these agents, Incent, succumbs to ‘Undulant Rhetoric’, and Agent Klorathy must go to Volyen to help him see through the empty words that have beguiled him.
Once more employing alien races to identify human failings, Lessing uses social and political satire to show how we misuse speech (and speeches) and delude ourselves with self-aggrandizing notions about the primacy of emotion. Her renowned insight into human behaviour goes hand in hand here with a vein of humour that sees her writing in the tradition of Voltaire and Swift.
Doris Lessing is one of the most important writers of the twentieth century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. Her first novel, 'The Grass is Singing', was published in 1950. Among her other celebrated novels are 'The Golden Notebook', 'The Fifth Child' and 'Memoirs of a Survivor'. She has also published two volumes of her autobiography, 'Under my Skin' and 'Walking in the Shade'. Doris Lessing died on 17 November 2013 at the age of 94.