The Good Terrorist Background

The Good Terrorist Background

The Good Terrorist is a political novel written in 1985 by British author Doris Lessing. Since its publication, it has been highly controversial; Lessing was inspired to write it after the Irish Republican Army left a bomb at Harrods, London's most famous department store, in 1983. She was previously a member of the British Communist party. Lessing seemed to align herself with the terrorists and this deeply divided reviewers, many of whom found her characters rather bland and one-dimensional, particularly the self-absorbed Alice. Lessing, for her part, felt that everyone was taking the novel too seriously; she believed that the novel was a humorous satire, and that the title is an oxymoron that highlight's its main characters' ambivalence about life in general.

This novel tells the story of Alice, a drifter who floats from commune to commune with no particular goals or destination in mind. She considers herself a revolutionary and finds a group of like minded Communists in a derelict house They call themselves "Freeborn British Communists" and build a car bomb. Alice begins to see herself as something special, more than other people could understand, She acknowledges she is a terrorist.

Lessing became interested in politics whilst living in Zimbabwe when she was attracted to a group of Communists and joined the local chapter of the Left Book Club. Lessing claimed that The Good Terrorist was never a political statement, but more about a particular type of politically-driven person who thinks of themselves as a revolutionary, and how they can only thrive in an affluent environment. In short, it is a study of the political posturing of the pampered.

The main theme of the novel is losing one's identity amongst a group of others with similar ideologies. Alice is a good person at heart until she succumbs to peer pressure and conforms to the ideologies of others.

The Good Terrorist was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won both the Mondello Prize and the W.H. Smith Book Award.

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