The Female Body Essay Margaret Atwood

The Female Body Essay Margaret Atwood-43
“There are so few books like that being published right now,” she said.“The application of literary intelligence to this question of power — it’s kind of out of style.

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Atwood knows exactly how terrifying it is when a person with power over you doesn't mind if you suffer, when they seem to in fact want you to suffer, and she examines every nuance of that terror without flinching away from it.

And that makes her perfectly suited to be the voice of the world in 2017.

Atwood has covered a great deal over her extraordinarily prolific career, but she’s returned again and again to certain preoccupations — preoccupations that are not currently fashionable.

When Michelle Dean accepted the National Book Critics Circle Award for excellence in reviewing this March, she mused that she had been rereading recently, and was struck by how unusual it felt in the context of 2017.

And many writers just seem more interested in exploring the self.” Atwood is a writer with the voice of a poet who has never been interested in the lyrical realist tradition so popular among literary novelists like Ian Mc Ewan or Jonathan Safran Foer, with their minutely observed unhappy families having unhappy sex.

Instead, Atwood puts domestic characters into blown-up situations.At the time, Atwood has said, female poets were expected to be mystical and mysterious and probably suicidal, like Sylvia Plath; interviewers asked her, she writes in the essay collection , “not whether I was going to commit suicide, but when.” It was an image entirely at odds with the way Atwood describes herself, which is as “a nice, cosy sort of person, a bit absent-minded, a dab hand at cookies, beloved by domestic animals, and a knitter of sweaters with arms that are too long.” (Having briefly met Atwood, based on first impressions I find it much easier to imagine her saying, “I eat men like air,” like Plath’s Lady Lazarus than to imagine her knitting sweaters, but on this she disagrees with me.) Atwood would expand on this disconnect in her third novel, 1976’s , in which the heroine is a nice, silly woman who accidentally hypnotizes herself into writing serious poetry when she is procrastinating at her day job of churning out pulpy costume dramas, and is promptly flummoxed by the ensuing publicity.The interviewers want to turn her into a feminist and pretend that she forces them to call her after she politely tells them she has no preference, and they treat her as a mystical goddess figure to the point that she begins to see her public persona as a separate self: “She was taller than I was, more beautiful, more threatening.Atwood, whose writing career spans roughly 50 years, 17 novels, 10 short story collections, and 20 poetry collections, is at last having her pop culture moment.So now it’s time for us to explore who she is, what her writing does, and why it’s so compelling.In part, that disconnect comes about because Atwood insists on defining her own terms.She’s interested in women’s rights, and she’s interested in the possibilities of technology for the future, but those questions don’t necessarily fall within the bounds of feminism and science fiction as she defines them.Later, she would give that career to the heroine of in 1985 that Atwood broke into the literary A-list, despite a middling review from Mary Mc Carthy at the New York Times.But prior to breaking into fiction, Atwood had already made a name for herself has a well-respected poet.That combination — of the lurking, horrific possibility of totalitarianism and human evil, and the unforgiving brutality and necessity of the natural world — would go on to inform her work for the rest of her career, perhaps most pointedly in the trilogy, in which human brutality nearly destroys the world and nature rushes in to fill the void.Atwood began to attend school full time at age 8, an age that in most of her fiction is deeply traumatic.


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