Vol. 60 No. 1 (2012)
Research Article

The Uncanny Unnamable in Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child and Ben, in the World

Published 2012-03-01



In The Fifth Child and Ben, in the World, Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing creates a character whose naming attempts to socialize the unsocializable. In the first novel, Harriet and David Lovatt raise four edenic children, until the birth of Ben, their atavistic son. Exiled, Ben reappears as the sequel’s title character, a monstrous throwback searching the globe for home. Among a multitude of biblical and traditional given names, a surname that requires the family to ‘love it,’ and a world of modern and ancient place names, Lessing’s onomastic choices underscore her themes of identity and belonging.


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