IN REMEMBRANCE: 11-17-2013


BAP/  November 17, 2013, 10:46 AM

British writer Doris Lessing holds her head in her hands outside her home in north London, on October 11, 2007, as she is told by photographers that she has won the Nobel Literature Prize, after returning from a shopping trip.

British writer Doris Lessing holds her head in her hands outside her home in north London, on October 11, 2007, as she is told by photographers that she has won the Nobel Literature Prize, after returning from a shopping trip. / G

  • LONDON Doris Lessing, the Nobel prize-winning, free-thinking, world-traveling and often-polarizing author of “The Golden Notebook” and dozens of other novels that reflected her own improbable journey across the former British empire, died Sunday. She was 94.

 Her publisher, HarperCollins, said the author of more than 55 works of fiction, opera, nonfiction and poetry, died peacefully early Sunday. Her family requested privacy, and the exact cause of death was not immediately clear.

Lessing explored topics ranging from colonial Africa to dystopian Britain, from the mystery of being female to the unknown worlds of science fiction.

She won the Nobel Literature prize in 2007. The Swedish Academy praised Lessing for her “skepticism, fire and visionary power.” When informed about winning the prize outside her London home she responded: “Oh Christ! … I couldn’t care less.”

That was typical of the irascible, independent Lessing, who never saved her fire for the page. The targets of her vocal ire in recent years included former President George W. Bush – “a world calamity” – and modern women – “smug, self-righteous.” She also raised hackles by deeming the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States “not that terrible.”

She remains best known for “The Golden Notebook,” in which heroine Anna Wulf uses four notebooks to bring together the separate parts of her disintegrating life. The novel covers a range of previously unmentionable female conditions – menstruation, orgasms and frigidity – and made Lessing an icon for women’s liberation. But it became so widely talked about and dissected that she later referred to it as a “failure” and “an albatross.”

Published in Britain in 1962, the book did not make it to France or Germany for 14 years because it was considered too inflammatory. When it was republished in China in 1993, 80,000 copies sold out in two days.

“It took realism apart from the inside,” said Lorna Sage, an academic who knew Lessing since the 1970s. “Lessing threw over the conventions she grew up in to stage a kind of breakdown – to celebrate disintegration as the representative experience of a generation – when what you should have been doing is getting the act together.”

For some readers and critics, however, the book was an unwelcome exposure of female failings.

The criticism of Lessing’s work continued throughout her life. Although she continued to publish at least every other year, she received little attention for her later works and was often criticized as didactic and impenetrable.

“This is pure political correctness,” American literary critic Harold Bloom said in 2007 after Lessing won the Nobel Prize. “Although Ms. Lessing at the beginning of her writing career had a few admirable qualities, I find her work for the past 15 years quite unreadable … fourth-rate science fiction.”

While Lessing defended her turn to science fiction as a way to explore “social fiction,” she, too, was dismissive of the Nobel honor. After emerging from a London black cab, groceries in hand, she was asked repeatedly whether she was excited about the award.

“I can’t say I’m overwhelmed with surprise,” Lessing said. “I’m 88 years old and they can’t give the Nobel to someone who’s dead, so I think they were probably thinking they’d probably better give it to me now before I’ve popped off.”

As the international media surrounded her in her garden, she brightened when a reporter asked whether the Nobel would generate interest in her work.

“I’m very pleased if I get some new readers,” she said. “Yes, that’s very nice, I hadn’t thought of that.”

Born Doris May Tayler on Oct. 22, 1919, in Persia (now Iran) where her father was a bank manager, Lessing moved to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) aged 5 and lived there until she was 29.

Strong-willed from the start, she read works by Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling by age 10 and lived by the motto of “I will not.” Educated at a Roman Catholic girls school in Salisbury (now Harare), she left before finishing high school.

At 19, she married her first husband, Frank Wisdom, with whom she had a son and a daughter. She abandoned that family in her early 20s and became drawn into the Left Book Club, a group of literary communists and socialists headed by Gottfried Lessing, the man who would become her second husband and father her third child.

But Lessing became disillusioned with the communist movement and in 1949, aged 30, left her second husband to move to Britain. Along with her young son, Peter, she packed the manuscript of her first novel, “The Grass is Singing.” The novel, which used the story of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage to portray poverty and racism in Southern Rhodesia, was published in 1950 to great success in Europe and the United States.

Lessing then embarked on the first of five deeply autobiographical novels – from “Martha Quest” to “The Four-Gated City” – works that became her “Children of Violence” series.

Her nonfiction work ranged from “Going Home” in 1957 about her return to Southern Rhodesia to a book about her pets, “Particularly Cats,” in 1967.

In the 1950s, Lessing became an honorary member of writers’ group known as the Angry Young Men who were seen as injecting a radical new energy into British culture. Her home in London became a center not only for novelists, playwrights and critics but also for drifters and loners.

Lessing herself always denied being a feminist and said she was not conscious of writing anything particularly inflammatory when she produced “The Golden Notebook.”

“I had been listening to women talk about women’s issues and about men. Suddenly when I wrote down these private conversations, people were astounded. It was as though what women said didn’t exist until it was written,” she said.

Lessing’s early novels decried the dispossession of black Africans by white colonials and criticized South Africa’s apartheid system, prompting the governments of Southern Rhodesia and South Africa to bar her in 1956. Later governments overturned that order. In June 1995, the same year that she received an honorary degree from Harvard University, she returned to South Africa to see her daughter and grandchildren.

In Britain, Lessing won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1954 and was made a Companion of Honor in 1999. That honor came after she turned down the chance to become a Dame of the British Empire – on the grounds that there was no such thing as the British Empire at the time.

Lessing often presented women – herself included – as vain and territorial and insisted in the introduction for a 1993 reissue that “The Golden Notebook” was not a “trumpet for women’s liberation.”

“I think a lot of romanticizing has gone on with the women’s movement,” she told The Associated Press in a 2006 interview. “Whatever type of behavior women are coming up with, it’s claimed as a victory for feminism – doesn’t matter how bad it is. We don’t seem go in very much for self-criticism.”

In 2001, she told the Edinburgh book festival that modern men were “cowed” by women.

“They can’t fight back,” she said. “And it’s time they did.”

She is survived by her daughter Jean and granddaughters Anna and Susannah.





Published: November 16, 2013

  • The Soviet Union led humanity into the heavens, sending the first satellite, man and woman into space, and all were duly celebrated by their country. The cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first person to orbit the Earth, on April 12, 1961, received his nation’s highest award, Hero of the Soviet Union.


Aleksandr Serebrov was one of the few cosmonauts to fly for both the Soviet Union and its successor, the Russian republic.

Two decades later, the cosmonaut Aleksandr Serebrov, who died on Tuesday at 69, earned the same honor. But by the time his country’s mighty rocket boosters had lifted him into space four times in the 1980s and ’90s, the heroics of its space program were mostly memory. Mr. Serebrov received little of the acclaim lavished on Colonel Gagarin.

Indeed, as the country’s economy sank — ultimately triggering the demise of Communist rule in 1991 — the space program could only stagger on, its budget severely cut. To help keep itself going, the program resorted to selling rides to Russia’s Mir space station, the only permanent space outpost at the time, finding customers among scientists and space programs in other nations.

And it offered novel space for advertising. An Italian insurance company placed an ad on the side of a booster rocket, while the manufacturer of New Dawn perfume bought space on a launching pad. Cosmonauts floating in space appeared in television commercials. Tourists with deep pockets were invited to visit what had long been ultrasecret space installations.

“Their economy was in shambles,” a history published by NASA said, “and the future of their legendary space program looked worse than uncertain.”

Mr. Serebrov, a civilian, persevered through it all, becoming one of the few cosmonauts to fly for both the Soviet Union and its successor, the Russian republic. A flight engineer and researcher on important missions, he also helped design space stations and other high-tech gear, once held the record for the number of walks in space and went on to advise top leadership on space matters.

Not that it was easy. His last mission, from July 1993 to January 1994, was delayed for five months for logistical reasons. Then he and another cosmonaut were kept on Mir for 49 extra days because the factory that made spacecraft engines was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy as a result of government spending cuts. Less powerful rockets used by weather forecasters were commandeered to take the men supplies.

Insult was added to injury. In December 1993, when Russians voted in their first free parliamentary election since 1918, nobody remembered to send ballots to the Earth-circling cosmonauts. Mission Control reported that Mr. Serebrov and his comrades were “rather upset.”

After he retired from the cosmonaut corps in 1995, Mr. Serebrov advised President Boris N. Yeltsin and other Russian leaders. When a fire erupted on Mir in 1997, he argued strongly that the endangered cosmonauts were not responsible. Known for his outspokenness, he pointedly told Mr. Yeltsin that the problems “could be found on Earth.”

Mr. Yeltsin seemed to get the message. A week later he said, “It is necessary to remember that cosmonauts work in extreme conditions, beyond human abilities.”

Mr. Serebrov had taken a copy of the Guinness Book of Records to that meeting, to show Mr. Yeltsin that he held the record for the most walks in space, 10. (The current record holder, Anatoly Solovyev, has 16.)

Mr. Serebrov spent 371.95 days in space and 31.63 hours walking there. In 1982, on his first mission, a fellow crew member was Svetlana Savitskaya, the second woman in space. (The first was Valentina Tereshkova in 1963.)

An engineer by training, Mr. Serebrov helped design and was the first to test a one-person vehicle — popularly called a “space motorcycle” — to rescue space crews in distress and repair satellites. He also helped design the Salyut 6 and 7 space stations and Mir, where his contributions included choosing interior colors: white for the ceiling, brown for the floors and green for the walls.

The color choices, he said, were not just a matter of fashion; in the weightlessness of space they help a crew member know where he is. “Color is direction,” Mr. Serebrov said.

He died in Moscow, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass said. It did not report a cause. His survivors include his wife, Kateryna, and one child, the agency said.

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Serebrov was born in Moscow on Feb. 15, 1944. He graduated from the Moscow Physics Technological Institute and then did graduate work there. In 1978, he was selected as one of seven civilian cosmonaut engineers. On his missions, he had the title of flight engineer or research consultant.

In the 1998 book “Dragonfly: NASA and the Crisis Aboard Mir,” by Bryan Burrough, Mr. Serebrov is described as “garrulous,” “headline-grabbing” and good for a memorable quotation. Once asked what was the most challenging thing about walking in space, he replied, “To control the urge to answer a call of nature.”

Mr. Serebrov later started a group to inspire students to study science and joined with the Japanese philosopher and author Daisaku Ikeda in a dialogue on scientific and Buddhist perspectives of the universe. That dialogue was published as a book in Russian, Japanese and Korean.

On his last mission, Mr. Serebrov took along a Game Boy to play Tetris, the tile-matching puzzle video game released in the Soviet Union in 1984.

When, in 2001, Rémy Martin devised a container for drinking cognac in space — equipped with a straw and an anti-leak valve — Mr. Serebrov acknowledged that he and other cosmonauts had long imbibed small amounts of cognac and vodka. Syringes helped.

“I think it’s good,” he said of the Rémy initiative. “I like French cognac — it’s dry.”




Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos

Kermit Moore leading the Classical Heritage Ensemble with saxophonist James Moody in 1999.


Published: November 11, 2013

  • Kermit Moore, a cellist, conductor and composer who in all three capacities was concerned with music rooted in the black experience, died on Nov. 2 in Manhattan. He was 84.

The cause was complications after recent surgery, his wife, the composer Dorothy Rudd Moore, said.

As a cellist, Mr. Moore appeared as a soloist and chamber player on some of the world’s leading concert stages. He was renowned for championing the work of 20th-century composers: Where another cellist might present a recital in which a single modern work was interleaved among more traditional fare, Mr. Moore typically offered a half-dozen contemporary pieces at once.

Writing in The New York Times in 1969, Peter G. Davis reviewed a program by Mr. Moore at Carnegie Recital Hall that included works by Ben Weber, Iain Hamilton, Roger Sessions, Beatrice Witkin and the African-American composer Hale Smith.

“Mr. Moore vaulted every technical hurdle of his formidable recital with disarming ease,” Mr. Davis wrote. “He is a virtuoso cellist, a sensitive musician and something of a hero.”

Mr. Moore also collaborated with jazz musicians, including the pianist McCoy Tyner and the bassist Ron Carter.

On the podium, he was a regular guest conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic and also led the Detroit Symphony, the Berkeley (Calif.) Symphony and Opera Ebony.

Mr. Moore was a founder, the principal cellist, a frequent conductor and an administrator of the Symphony of the New World, an ensemble, begun in New York in 1964, that sought to represent minorities and women in far greater numbers than traditional orchestras did.

He was also the founder and conductor of the Classical Heritage Ensemble, a chamber orchestra specializing in rarely performed classical works.

As a composer, Mr. Moore was known for “Many Thousand Gone,” for strings, flute, percussion and chorus; string quartets; and several pieces for the cello, an instrument that has long been painfully underrepresented in the solo literature.

He composed the soundtrack for “Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice,” a documentary about that pioneering black journalist, first broadcast on PBS in 1989.

With the photographer, filmmaker, musician and polymath Gordon Parks, Mr. Moore wrote the soundtrack for the 1984 PBS documentary “Solomon Northup’s Odyssey,” about a free black man forced into bondage. Mr. Northup’s story is the subject of the current feature film “12 Years a Slave.”

Kermit Diton Moore was born in Akron, Ohio, on March 11, 1929; his middle name was in honor of the African-American composer Carl Diton, whom his parents admired. He began piano lessons with his mother at 5 and at 10 took up the cello.

While still in high school, Mr. Moore studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music; by the time he was 19, he was playing solo recitals in New York.

In Manhattan, Mr. Moore studied the cello with Felix Salmond at the Juilliard School while simultaneously studying composition and musicology at New York University, from which he received a master’s degree. He later studied at the Paris Conservatoire.

Mr. Moore’s other cello teachers included Paul Bazelaire, Gregor Piatigorsky and Pablo Casals. He studied composition in France with Nadia Boulanger and conducting at Tanglewood with Serge Koussevitzky.

In 1949 Mr. Moore became the principal cellist of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, one of only a few African-Americans in the United States to hold such a post. He taught at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, the Harlem School of the Arts and elsewhere.

Besides his wife, whom he married in 1964 and whose work he often performed, Mr. Moore, a resident of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, is survived by a sister, Mary Moore Nelson, a pianist.

His recordings include works by Brahms and Mendelssohn as well as those by his wife and himself. He can also be heard on many jazz and pop albums and, as a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble, the soundtrack for the 1982 film “Koyaanisqatsi.”





Published: November 12, 2013

  • William Pollack, a medical researcher who helped develop a vaccine that virtually eradicated a disease once responsible for 10,000 infant deaths a year in the United States, died on Nov. 3 in Yorba Linda, Calif. He was 87.

Lasker Foundation

William Pollack

He had diabetes and heart disease, his son Malcolm said in confirming the death.

Dr. Pollack was a senior scientist in the research laboratory of Ortho Pharmaceutical Company in Raritan, N.J., in the early 1960s when he began a collaboration with two Columbia University researchers, Dr. Vincent J. Freda and Dr. John G. Gorman, to conceive a novel treatment for erythroblastosis fetalis, a blood disorder commonly called Rh disease. The ailment is caused by seemingly superficial differences in the blood types of pregnant women and their fetuses.

Besides the biochemical traits that define the major blood types — A, B, AB and O — the blood of 85 percent of people carries a cluster of surface proteins known as the Rh factor, named for the rhesus monkeys in which it was first identified in 1940. Blood transfusions between people who have the Rh factor (known as Rh positive) and people who do not (Rh negative) cause severe immune reactions.

Rh disease occurs when a pregnant woman is Rh negative and her fetus is Rh positive. In the mixing of blood between the two during pregnancy, the mother’s Rh-negative blood cells produce antibodies that attack the blood cells of the fetus. Depending on the strength of the mother’s immune response, the effects on the baby can range from mild anemia to stillbirth.

Dr. Pollack and his partners devised an “ingenious” counterattack, as it was described in an introduction to their work in “Hematology: Landmark Papers of the Twentieth Century,” a collection published in 2000 by hematologist organizations.

The three men produced a vaccine that patrols the mother’s body, dispatches invading Rh-positive cells and causes no harm to the fetus. The vaccine was made from a passive Rh-negative antibody, which soon wears out. It not only solves the mother’s temporary immunity problem but also, more important, prevents her immune system from mounting a full-fledged response of its own, which would endanger the fetus she was carrying as well as any future ones.

“It was an absolutely brilliant idea,” said Dr. Richard L. Berkowitz, the obstetrics and gynecology director of resident education at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital. “A lot of people know who Jonas Salk is, but they should know William Pollack’s name, too. This disease was a major, major problem, and it’s been virtually eradicated.”

Researchers had developed other approaches to treating Rh blood disease, including potentially dangerous intrauterine transfusions, before the idea of a vaccine emerged. Among his other contributions, Dr. Pollack was credited with devising the process in which the blood components needed to make the vaccine are isolated and recombined in a liquid solution.

In 1980, Dr. Pollack and his colleagues received the Lasker Award, popularly known as the American Nobel Prize, for excellence in biomedical research.

William Pollack was born in London on Feb. 26, 1926, one of two children of David and Rose Pollack. His father was a carpenter. After serving in the Royal Navy during World War II, he received a bachelor of science degree from the University of London in 1948 and a master’s degree in chemistry there in 1950.

With his wife, Alison, he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in the mid-1950s to work as a researcher at the Royal Columbian Hospital. In 1963 he went to work for Ortho Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson known mainly for developing spermicidal jellies, contraceptives and intrauterine devices. (It is now part of Janssen Pharmaceuticals.) While pursuing his idea for an Rh disease vaccine, he earned a Ph.D. in zoology from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

The vaccine, a gamma globulin solution known generically as Rh immune globulin and later by its brand name, RhoGAM, was first tested on volunteers at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, N.Y., and later on 600 Rh-negative women in clinical trials. It worked 99 percent of the time, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and went on the market in 1969.

In 1971, the World Health Organization recommended to its 193 member nations that Rh testing and treatment with immune globulin be made part of the standard protocol of medical care for pregnant women. In a follow-up report in 1998, the organization said the incidence of Rh blood disease, once estimated at 200,000 cases a year worldwide, had become rare.

Dr. Pollack, who later taught immunology at Rutgers and Columbia, left Ortho after 25 years to work at other pharmaceutical companies before starting a company of his own, Quotient Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing, in Anaheim, Calif.

Besides his son Malcolm, he is survived by another son, David, who was a partner in Quotient, and by four grandchildren. His wife died in 2006.

In a 1967 interview with Science News, Dr. Pollack cautioned that the Rh gamma globulin solution he and his colleagues had developed was not a cure for Rh blood disease. To be effective, the vaccine has to be given to susceptible patients every time they become pregnant.

“The cure,” he said, “is for the next generation.”


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