The Shadow City

The Shadow City represents the last phase of Round City, when it was expanded into two different cities as described in Doris Lessing’s book The Four-Gated City.

Shadow City. 2017, ink on parchment, 2017, 80 x 120 cm.

Letters about the City is an account of the different developments of the City as they have been portrayed in Doris Lessing’s work. In the novel Martha Quest, the young Martha Quest dreams of a white city in the mountains while walking around her family’s estate. Later in adulthood, Martha has dreams where humans and all animals live together in perfect harmony. The idea of the Four-Gated City is born, assuming its final form in the eponymous volume of the Children of Violence series. In the novel, Martha’s employer, Mark Coldridge, writes first a short story and then a novel on the birth, growth and destruction of the city. A similar description of a utopian Round City can be found in the novel Shikasta, where Lessing recounts how the Round City was built and what finally became of it. Other accounts of mythical cities can be found, for example, in the novel Briefing for a Descent into Hell and the short story The Reason for It.

Letters about the City is comprised of Martha and Usbek’s imaginary correspondence about a City, the various developments of which Doris Lessing included in several of her works. Martha Quest is Doris Lessing’s alter ego in her novel series Children of Violence. Usbek the Isfahanian is one of the correspondents in Montesquieu’s Persian Letters.

The Shadow City drawing shows later development of the Round City. It attracted people from all over the world, and a suffocating shadow city grew around it.

Read the booklet!