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Atwood, Margaret 1939–

Atwood, Margaret 1939–

(Margaret Eleanor Atwood)

Personal

Born November 18, 1939, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Carl Edmund (an entomologist) and Margaret Dorothy (Killam) Atwood; married Jim Polk, 1967 (divorced 1977); married Graeme Gibson (a writer); children: (second marriage) Jess (daughter). Education: University of Toronto, B.A., 1961; Radcliffe College, A.M., 1962; Harvard University, graduate study, 1962–63, 1965–67. Politics: "William Morrisite." Religion: "Immanent Transcendentalist."

Addresses

Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Agent—c/o Author Mail, House of Anansi Press, 110 Spadina Ave., Ste. 801, Toronto, Ontario M5V 2K4, Canada.

Career

Novelist, poet, and educator. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, lecturer in English literature, 1964–65; Sir George Williams University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, lecturer in English literature, 1967–68; York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, assistant professor of English literature, 1971–72; House of Anansi Press, Toronto, editor and member of board of directors, 1971–73; University of Toronto, writer-in-residence, 1972–73; University of Alabama—Tuscaloosa, writer-in-residence, 1985; New York University, New York, NY, Berg Visiting Professor of English, 1986; Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia, writer-in-residence, 1987. Formerly worked as a camp counselor and waitress.

Awards, Honors

E.J. Pratt Medal, 1961, for Double Persephone; President's Medal, University of Western Ontario, 1965; YWCA Women of Distinction Award, 1966, 1988; Governor General's Award, 1966, for The Circle Game, and 1986, for The Handmaid's Tale; first prize in Canadian Centennial Commission Poetry Competition, 1967; Union Prize for poetry, 1969; Bess Hoskins Prize for poetry, 1969, 1974; City of Toronto Book Award, Canadian Booksellers' Association Award, and Periodical Distributors of Canada Short Fiction Award, all 1977, all for Dancing Girls, and Other Stories; St. Lawrence Award for fiction, 1978; Radcliffe Medal, 1980; Life before Man selected a notable book of 1980, American Library Association; Molson Award, 1981; Guggenheim fellowship, 1981; named companion, Order of Canada, 1981; International Writer's Prize, Welsh Arts Council, 1982; Book of the Year Award, Periodical Distributors of Canada/Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters, 1983, for Bluebeard's Egg, and Other Stories; named Woman of the Year, Ms. magazine, 1986; Ida Nudel Humanitarian Award, Toronto Arts Award for writing and editing, and Los Angeles Times Book Award, all 1986, and Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction, and Commonwealth Literature Prize, both 1987, all for The Handmaid's Tale; Council for the Advancement and Support of Education silver medal, 1987; Humanist of the Year award, 1987; Booker Prize shortlist, City of Toronto Book Award, Coles Book of the Year Award, Canadian Booksellers' Association Author of the Year Award, Foundation for Advancement of Canadian Letters citation, Periodical Marketers of Canada Award, and Torgi Talking Book Award, all 1989, all for Cat's Eye; Harvard University Centennial Medal, 1990; named to Order of Ontario, 1990; Trillium Award for Excellence in Ontario Writing, and Book of the Year Award, Periodical Marketers of Canada, both 1992, both for Wilderness Tips, and Other Stories; Commemorative Medal, 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation; Booker Prize shortlist, Trillium Award, Canadian Authors' Association Novel of the Year Award, Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Canadian and Caribbean Region, and Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, all 1994, and Swedish Humour Association's International Humourous Writer Award, 1995, all for The Robber Bride; named chevalier, French Order des Arts et des Lettres, 1994; Trillium Award, 1995, for Morning in the Burned House; Norwegian Order of Literary Merit, 1996; Booker Prize shortlist, and Giller Prize, both 1996, both for Alias Grace; International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award shortlist, Dublin City Library, 1998; Booker Prize, 2000, and Dashiell Hammett Award, International Association of Crime Writers, 2001, both for The Blind Assassin; Booker Prize shortlist, 2003, for Oryx and Crake; Enlightenment Award, Edinburgh International Festival, 2005. Recipient of honorary degrees from Trent University, 1973, Concordia University, 1980, Smith College, 1982, University of Toronto, 1983, Mount Holyoke College, 1985, University of Waterloo, 1985, University of Guelph, 1985, Victoria College, 1987, University of Montreal, 1991, University of Leeds, 1994, Queen's University, 1994, Oxford University, 1998, Cambridge University, 2001, and others.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

(And illustrator) Up in the Tree (juvenile), McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1978, reprinted, Groundwood Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.

(With Joyce Barkhouse) Anna's Pet (juvenile), James Lorimer, 1980.

For the Birds, illustrated by John Bianchi, Firefly Books (Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada), 1991.

Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (juvenile), illustrated by Maryann Kovalski, Workman (New York, NY), 1995.

Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (juvenile), illustrated by Dušan Petričicć, Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2004.

Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, illustrated by Dušan PetričIć, Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

POETRY

Double Persephone, Hawkshead Press (Ontario, Canada), 1961.

The Circle Game, Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI), 1964, revised edition, House of Anansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1978.

Kaleidoscopes Baroque: A Poem, Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI), 1965.

Talismans for Children, Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI), 1965.

Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein, Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI), 1966.

The Animals in That Country, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1968.

The Journals of Susanna Moodie, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1970.

Procedures for Underground, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1970.

Power Politics, House of Anansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1971, Harper (New York, NY), 1973.

You Are Happy, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1974.

Selected Poems, 1965–1975, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1976, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1978.

Marsh Hawk, Dreadnaught Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1977.

Two-headed Poems, Oxford University Press, 1978, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1981.

Notes toward a Poem That Can Never Be Written, Salamander Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981.

True Stories, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1982.

Snake Poems, Salamander Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983.

Interlunar, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1984.

Selected Poems II: Poems Selected and New, 1976–1986, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1986.

Morning in the Burned House, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Eating Fire: Selected Poetry, 1965–1995, Virago Press (London, England), 1998.

Also author of Expeditions, 1966, and What Was in the Garden, 1969.

NOVELS; FOR ADULTS

The Edible Woman, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1969, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1970, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Surfacing, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1972, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1973, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Lady Oracle, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1976, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Life before Man, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1979, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Bodily Harm, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1982, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Encounters with the Element Man, William B. Ewert (Concord, NH), 1982.

Unearthing Suite, Grand Union Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983.

The Handmaid's Tale, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1985, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1986.

Cat's Eye, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1988, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1989.

The Robber Bride, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1993.

Alias Grace, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1996.

The Blind Assassin, Nan A. Talese (New York, NY), 2000.

Oryx and Crake, Nan A. Talese (New York, NY), 2003.

The Tent, Nan A. Talese, (New York, NY), 2006.

SHORT FICTION

Dancing Girls, and Other Stories, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1977, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1982, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Bluebeard's Egg, and Other Stories, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983, Anchor Doubleday (New York, NY), 1998.

Murder in the Dark: Short Fictions and Prose Poems, Coach House Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983.

Wilderness Tips, and Other Stories, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1991.

Good Bones, Coach House Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992, published as Good Bones and Simple Murders, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1994.

A Quiet Game: And Other Early Works, edited and annotated by Kathy Chung and Sherrill Grace, Juvenilia Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1997.

OTHER

The Trumpets of Summer (radio play), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC-Radio), 1964.

Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, House of Anansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1972.

The Servant Girl (teleplay), CBC-TV, 1974.

Days of the Rebels, 1815–1840, Natural Science Library, 1976.

The Poetry and Voice of Margaret Atwood (recording), Caedmon (New York, NY), 1977.

(Author of introduction) Catherine M. Young, To See Our World, GLC Publishers, 1979, Morrow (New York, NY), 1980.

Snowbird (teleplay), CBC-TV, 1981.

Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, House of Anansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1982.

(Editor) The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1982.

(Editor with Robert Weaver) The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1986.

(With Peter Pearson) Heaven on Earth (teleplay), CBC-TV, 1986.

(Editor) The Canlit Foodbook, Totem Books (New York, NY), 1987.

(Editor with Shannon Ravenal) The Best American Short Stories, 1989, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1989.

(Editor with Barry Callaghan and author of introduction) The Poetry of Gwendolyn MacEwen, Exile Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), Volume 1: The Early Years, 1993, Volume 2: The Later Years, 1994.

Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (lectures), Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

Some Things about Flying, Women's Press (London, England), 1997.

(With Victor-Levy Beaulieu) Two Solicitudes: Conversations (interviews), translated by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

(Author of introduction) Women Writers at Work: The "Paris Review" Interviews, edited by George Plimpton, Random House (New York, NY), 1998.

Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing (nonfiction), Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

(Author of introduction) Ground Works: Avant-garde for Thee, edited by Christian Bök, House of Anansi (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

Moving Targets: Writing with Intent, 1982–2004, House of Anansi (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004, published as Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose, 1983–2005, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2005.

The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (play), Knopf (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) 2005.

Contributor to anthologies, including Five Modern Canadian Poets, 1970; The Canadian Imagination: Dimensions of a Literary Culture, Harvard University Press, 1977; Women on Women, 1978; and Story of a Nation: Defining Moments in Our History, Doubleday Canada, 2001. Contributor to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, New Yorker, Harper's, New York Times Book Review, Saturday Night, Tamarack Review, and Canadian Forum.

Atwood's works have been translated into French.

Adaptations

Reflections: Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer, a six-minute visual interpretation of Atwood's poem by the same name, was produced by Cinematics Canada, 1972, and by Universal as Poem as Imagery: Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer, 1974. The Journals of Susanna Moodie was adapted as a screenplay, Tranby, 1972; Surfacing was adapted for film, Pan-Canadian, 1979; The Handmaid's Tale was filmed by Cinecom Entertainment Group, 1989, and was adapted as an opera by Danish composer Poul Ruders, for the Royal Danish Opera Company, 2002. The Atwood Stories, adaptations of Atwood's fiction, appeared as six half-hour episodes on W Network. Many of Atwood's books have been adapted as audiobooks.

Sidelights

Margaret Atwood is considered one of Canada's major novelists and has attained a measure of celebrity; according to Ann Marie Lipinski, writing in the Chicago Tribune, the writer is "one of the leading literary luminaries, a national heroine of the arts, the rara avis of Canadian letters." Atwood's books, which have been highly lauded in the United States and Europe as well in as her native Canada, have won numerous literary awards, among them Great Britain's prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. In her works, she often examines the relationship between humanity and nature, and she also looks at power as it pertains to gender and politics, although she rejects the label of feminist that many have attached to her. Employing symbolism, irony, and self-conscious narrators, Atwood takes literary chances in her writing, borrowing techniques from science fiction and detective-genre fiction.

While Atwood's fame rests on such novels as The Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace, Cat's Eye, and The Blind Assassin, the author is also a published poet, playwright, essayist, and author of short fiction. She has also published books for younger readers throughout her decades-long career. Praised as a "silly romp" by a Publishers Weekly contributor, Atwood's 1996 picture book, Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, features a rhythmic text that rejoices in the sound of the letter "P" while telling the story of a pretty princess who is prompted to do three good deeds after a wise old woman weaves a convincing magic.

Born in 1939, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Atwood was raised in a tight-knit family that also included a brother and a sister. Until her late teens, she spent at least half the year in the remote regions of northern Ontario and Quebec, where her etymologist father researched forest insects for the Canadian government while the family lived in a cabin without running water or electricity. Educated by her mother, she delved into books of all sorts during these long sojourns away from civilization, particularly Greek and Celtic mythology and the often brutal fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm. Her family's itinerant lifestyle combined with her exposure to etymological and mythic metamorphosis to build a fascination with the concepts of destruction and rebirth as inevitabilities. As a six year old, Atwood had already started dabbling with poetry, writing a series she called "Rhyming Cats." The following year, in 1946, she and her family moved to Toronto, where her father took a university post. While attending Toronto's city schools, Atwood still spent half the year living close to nature in Canada's north woods.

By the time she reached high school, Atwood had decided to become a professional writer. As she told Kim Hubbard in People, she was somewhat frightened by her decision, for she had few female role models in her chosen profession. "Emily Dickinson lived in a cupboard, Charlotte Brontë died in childbirth. They were weird like Christina Rossetti, or they drank or committed suicide like Sylvia Plath. Writing seemed like a call to doom. I thought I would probably get [tuberculosis] and live in a garret and have a terrible life."

Graduating from Toronto's Leaside High School in 1957, Atwood attended the University of Toronto's Victoria College and entered the English honors program. Studying under well-known critic Northrop Frye, she became versed in the use of mythical and biblical imagery. As an undergraduate she wrote for the college literary magazine and had her first poem published at age nineteen. Four years later, in 1961, the soon-to-graduate Atwood published her first volume of poetry, the award-winning Double Persephone. She then earned an M.A. at Radcliffe College, studying Victorian literature, and also attended Harvard University. When her second poetry collection, The Circle Game, won Canada's Governor General's award in 1964, its author was teaching at the college level. Five years later, Atwood published her first novel, The Edible Woman, marking the start of her meteoric fiction-writing career.

Atwood's novels are known for their strong female characters. Early novels such as Surfacing, Bodily Harm, and the well-known The Handmaid's Tale feature female protagonists who are characteristic of Atwood: they are, as Judy Klemesrud reported in the New York Times, "intelligent, self-absorbed modern women searching for identity" who "hunt, split logs, make campfires and become successful in their careers, while men often cook and take care of their households." In Atwood's plots, the lives of these women are shattered by overwhelming threats: "cancer, divorce, violence—and those that persist quietly, naggingly—solitude, loneliness, desperation," according to Lipinski.

In The Handmaid's Tale Atwood draws readers into Gilead, a future America in which Fundamentalist Christians have killed the president and members of Congress and imposed their own patriarchal dictatorial rule. In this future world, polluted by toxic chemicals and nuclear radiation, few women can bear children and the birthrate has dropped alarmingly. Those women able to bear children are forced to become "Handmaids," Gilead's official breeders, while those not deemed suitable are reduced to slaves under the repressive religious government. As Elaine Kendall explained in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Atwood's novel is strongly grounded in current laws and regulations, and depicts "a future firmly based upon actuality, beginning with events that have already taken place and extending them a bit beyond the inevitable conclusions. The Handmaid's Tale does not depend upon hypothetical scenarios, omens, or straws in the wind, but upon documented occurrences and public pronouncements; all matters of record." Atwood's Oryx and Crake also draws readers into a provocative future world, this time focusing on a man who, his psyche shattered by violent memories, attempts to make sense of the post-apocalyptic wasteland he now inhabits.

In Cat's Eye Atwood narrows her focus and explores the dynamic of a family that resembles, on its surface, the one she was raised in, with its etymologist father, unconventional mother, and home-schooled children. However, the novel's pivotal tragedy hinges on the cruelty of children. The story focuses on Elaine, a successful painter who returns to her family's home in Toronto for an exhibition of her work. In a flashback to her childhood, Elaine relives her time with her childhood nemesis, a girl named Cordelia whom Elaine thought was her best friend but who actually made Elaine the object of a series of potentially deadly pranks. The young Elaine feels helpless to defend herself and is unable to confide in her parents. As Cordelia enters her teen years, however, she becomes overweight and unhappy, and she eventually goes insane. By the book's conclusion, the adult Elaine discovers how these events have influenced her art and her life. As Hermione Lee noted of Cat's Eye in the New Republic, "Under Atwood's sharp satire on girls' codes is a nightmare of persecution, which is the ugly heart of the novel…. Atwood's account of this torture is horrifyingly brilliant, and will strike home to anyone who was ever involved in childhood gang warfare, whether as bullier or bullied."

Alias Grace and the Booker Prize-winning The Blind Assassin venture into the genre of historical fiction. The Blind Assassin draws readers back to the early twentieth century to explore a family tragedy and its aftershocks. Based on an actual incident, Alias Grace centers on Grace Marks, a servant found guilty of murdering her employer and his mistress in northern Canada in 1843. Some doubt Grace's guilt, however, and as she serves out her sentence of life in prison with no memory of the murders, reformers agitate for clemency. In a quest for evidence to support their position, they assign a young doctor, Simon Jordan, who is versed in the new science of psychiatry, to evaluate her soundness of mind. Over many meetings, Grace tells the doctor the harrowing story of her life, which has been marked by extreme hardship. Much about Grace, though, remains puzzling: she is haunted by flashbacks of the supposedly forgotten murders and by a woman who died from a mishandled abortion. Praised by many reviewers for its evocation of day-to-day life during the mid-1800s, Alias Grace was dubbed "pure enchantment" by Los Angeles Times Book Review critic Richard Eder. Reviewing the novel in Maclean's, Diane Turbide wrote of Atwood's complex protagonist that Grace is more than an intriguing character: she is also "the lens through which Victorian hypocrisies are mercilessly exposed."

Like her adult novels, Atwood's books for children also depict a world slightly off-kilter, but instead of looming secrets, murderous servants, and the threat of cultural annihilation young readers are introduced to petulant princesses, likeable misfits, and challenges that resolve in happy-ending fashion. In fact, books like Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, and Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut provide Atwood with an excuse to engage in all manner of wordplay. While her first book for children, 1976's self-illustrated and hand-lettered Up the Tree, relates a simple story that Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg deemed "whimsical" and a "refreshing return to basics," the generous helping of humorous alliterations, slapstick plot-lines, and complex vocabulary to be found in Atwood's more recent books make them almost interactive: readers need to keep a dictionary at the ready in order to get the writer's most sophisticated jokes. Still, these books appeal on several levels, and as Resource Links reviewer Adriane Pettit noted of Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, "the wittiness and creativity in this wonderful tongue-twisting book make it an enjoyable read" for both adults and children. While a Publishers Weekly contributor cautioned that readers of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes might "feel overstuffed with rococo remarks" as they tackle Atwood's tale about a clueless man who, with his pet rat Ralph, leaves his "ramshackle rectangular residence" and eventually finds a new home with red-haired Rillah (who lives, not surprisingly, in a rectory), other critics disagreed. In Kirkus Reviews a contributor praised Atwood's text as "both amusing and enlightening in its use of rich vocabulary," while School Library Journal writer Caroline Ward maintained that the author's "command of wordplay is impressive, and unfamiliar words … may afford youngsters an opportunity for vocabulary enrichment."

Although her writing has been grist to many critics and scholars, and has been labeled everything from Cana-dian nationalist and feminist to gothic, the versatile Atwood continues to defy easy categorization and her books are enjoyed as much for their compelling plots and characters as for their intellectual depth. Writing in Saturday Night, Linda Sandler described the writer as "all things to all people … a nationalist … a feminist or a psychologist or a comedian … a maker and breaker of myths … a gothic writer. She's all these things, but finally she's unaccountably … elusive, complex, passionate." In World and I Linda Simon quoted Atwood's comments regarding the central quandary of choosing a writer's life: "There's always this tug of war. If you're writing, you're not living, and if you're living you're not writing. So which are you going to do?"

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Bloom, Harold, editor, Margaret Atwood, Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 2000.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 2, 1974, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 4, 1975, Volume 8, 1978, Volume 13, 1980, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 25, 1983, Volume 44, 1987.

Cooke, Nathalie, Margaret Atwood: A Biography, ECW Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 53: Canadian Writers since 1960, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986.

Howells, Coral Ann, Margaret Atwood, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Ingersoll, Earl G., editor, Waltzing Again: New and Selected Conversations with Margaret Atwood, Ontario Review Press (Princeton, NJ), 2006.

McCombs, Judith, and Carole L. Palmer, Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, G.K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1991.

St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Sullivan, Rosemary, The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out, HarperFlamingo Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

Twigg, Alan, For Openers: Conversations with Twenty-four Canadian Writers, Harbour, 1981.

Woodcock, George, The Canadian Novel in the Twentieth Century, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1975.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 1995, Hazel Rochman, review of Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, p. 702; June 1, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of The Blind Assassin, p. 1796; April 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Up in the Tree, p. 47.

Books in Canada, January, 1979; December, 1980, review of Anna's Pet, p. 18; June-July, 1980: March, 1981; December, 1995, review of Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, p. 18.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 2003, review of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, p. 445.

Canadian Forum, February, 1970, John Stedmond, review of The Edible Woman, p. 267; January, 1973; November-December, 1974; December-January, 1977–78; June-July, 1981, Chaviva Hosek and Scott Lauder, review of True Stories; December-January, 1981–82, Frank Davey, review of Life after Man, pp. 29-30.

Canadian Review of Materials, March, 1991, review of For the Birds, p. 93.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), July 7, 1984; October 5, 1985; October 19, 1985; February 15, 1986; November 15, 1986; November 29, 1986; November 14, 1987.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, p. 802.

Library Journal, August 9, 2000, Beth E. Andersen, review of The Blind Assassin; December, 2003, Laurie Selwyn, review of Oryx and Crake, p. 184

Los Angeles Times, March 2, 1982; April 22, 1982; May 9, 1986; January 12, 1987; September 26, 2000, p. E1.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 17, 1982; February 9, 1986, Elaine Kendall, review of The Handmaid's Tale; December 23, 1987; November 14, 1993, pp. 3, 11; December 15, 1996, Richard Eder, review of Alias Grace, p. 2.

Maclean's, January 15, 1979; October 15, 1979, Roy MacGregor, review of Life before Man; December 15, 1980, Ann Johnston, review of Anna's Pet, p. 52; March 30, 1981; October 5, 1992, John Bemrose, review of Good Bones; October 3, 1993, Judith Timson, "Atwood's Triumph," pp. 56-61; February 6, 1995, John Bemrose, review of Morning in the Burned House; September 23, 1996, Diane Turbide, "Amazing Atwood," pp. 42-45; October 14, 1996, p. 11; July 1, 1999, Margaret Atwood, "Survival, Then and Now," p. 54; September 11, 2000, John Bemrose, review of Margaret's Museum, p. 54.

New York Review of Books, December 16, 1993, Gabrielle Annan, review of The Robber Bride, pp. 14-15; December 19, 1996, Hilary Mantel, review of Alias Grace, pp. 4-6.

New York Times, December 23, 1976; January 10, 1980; February 8, 1980; March 6, 1982, Anatole Broyard, review of Bodily Harm, p. 13; March 28, 1982, Judy Klemesrud, "Canada's High Priestess of Angst," p. 21; September 15, 1982; January 27, 1986, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of The Handmaid's Tale, p. C24; February 17, 1986, Mervyn Rothstein, "Atwood Finds No Balm in Gilead," p. C11; November 5, 1986; October 26, 1993, Michiko Kakutani, review of The Robber Bride, p. C20; November 23, 1993, Sarah Lyall, "An Author Who Lets Women Be Bad Guys," pp. C13, C16; September 8, 2000, Michiko Kakutani, review of The Blind Assassin, p. E43.

New York Times Book Review, October 18, 1970, Millicent Bell, review of The Edible Woman; March 4, 1973; April 6, 1975; September 26, 1976; May 21, 1978; February 3, 1980, Marilyn French, review of Life before Man, pp. 1, 26; October 11, 1981; February 9, 1986, Mary McCarthy, "Breeders, Wives, and Un-women," pp. 1, 35; February 5, 1989, Alice McDermott, "What Little Girls Are Really Made Of," pp. 1, 35; October 31, 1993, Lorrie Moore, review of The Robber Bride, pp. 1, 22; December 11, 1994, Jennifer Howard, review of Good Bones and Simple Murders; April 28, 1996, p. 22; December 29, 1996, Francine Prose, review of Alias Grace, p. 6; September 3, 2000, p. 7.

People, May 19, 1980; February 27, 1989, Susan Toepfer, review of Cat's Eye, pp. 22-23; March 6, 1989, Kim Hubbard, "Reflected in Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye, Girlhood Looms as a Time of Cruelty and Terror," pp. 205-206; December 18, 1995, review of Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, p. 29.

Publishers Weekly, August 23, 1976; October 3, 1994, review of Good Bones and Simple Murders; August 28, 1995, pp. 107-108; January 1, 1996, review of Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, p. 70; October 7, 1996, p. 58; April 13, 1998, p. 65; July 24, 2000, review of The Blind Assassin, p. 67, and interview with Atwood, p. 68; August 23, 2004, review of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, p. 54.

Quill & Quire, April, 1981, Robert Sward, review of True Stories; September, 1984; September, 1995, review of Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, p. 73.

Resource Links, December, 2003, Denise Parrott, review of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, p. 1; April, 2005, Adriane Pettit, review of Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, p. 1.

School Library Journal, November, 2004, Caroline Ward, review of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, p. 90.

Times (London, England), March 13, 1986; June 4, 1987; June 10, 1987; January 26, 1989, Philip Howard, review of Cat's Eye; November 8, 2000, p. 3.

Times Literary Supplement, March 21, 1986; June 12, 1987; September 29, 2000, p. 24.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), November 21, 1993, p. 1.

Washington Post Book World, September 26, 1976; December 3, 1978; January 27, 1980; March 14, 1982; February 2, 1986; November 7, 1993, Francine Prose, review of The Robber Bride, p. 1; September 3, 2000, Michael Dirda, review of The Blind Assassin, pp. 15-16; November 7, 2004, Elizabeth Ward, review of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, p. 12.

Writer's Digest, October, 2000, p. 34.

World and I, January, 2003, Linda Simon, "Words and Their Glories: Margaret Atwood's Journey," p. 236.

ONLINE

Atwood Society Web site, http://www.mscd.edu/∼atwoodso/ (May 10, 2006).

Margaret Atwood Information Site, http://www.owtoad.com/ (May 10, 2006).

Random House Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/ (May 10, 2006), "Margaret Atwood."

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Margaret Eleanor Atwood

Margaret Eleanor Atwood

One of Canada's most distinguished person of letters, Margaret Eleanor Atwood (born 1939) was an internationally famous novelist, poet, critic, and politically committed cultural activist.

Margaret Eleanor Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1939, moving to Sault Ste. Marie in 1945 and to Toronto in 1946. Until she was 11, she spent half of each year in the northern Ontario wilderness, where her father worked as an entomologist. She studied at Victoria College, University of Toronto, where she received a B.A. in 1961, and at Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Mass. (M.A. 1962). Atwood also studied at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., from 1962-63 and 1965-67.

In addition to her academic accomplishments, Atwood received many honorary degrees, including: D. Litt., Trent University, 1973; LL.D., Queen's University, 1974; D. Litt., Concordia, 1980; Smith College, Northampton, Mass., 1982; University of Toronto, 1983; University of Waterloo, 1985; University of Guelph, 1985; Mount Holyoke College, 1985; Victoria College, 1987; Université de Montréal, 1991; University of Leeds, 1994; and McMaster University, 1996.

She has received more than 55 awards, including two Governor General's Awards, the first in 1966 for The Circle Game, her first major book of poems; the second for her 1985 novel, The Handmaid's Tale, which was also shortlisted for Britain's Booker Prize and made into a fairly successful wide circulation movie. Her recognition was often reflective of the diversity of her work. Among awards, honors, and prizes was a Guggenheim fellowship, the Los Angeles Times Fiction Award, 1986; Ms. Magazine's Woman of the Year, 1986; Canadian Booksellers Association Author of the Year, 1989; Government of France's Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 1994; the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, (London, U.K.), 1994; the Humanist of the Year Award, 1987; shortlisted for the Ritz Hemingway Prize (Paris), 1987; and Arthur C. Clarke Award for best Science Fiction, 1987.

Atwood clearly—quite early—enjoyed a career of remarkable distinction and success, not only as the highly prolific author of volumes of poetry, ten novels, two books of literary criticism, four collections of short stories, and three children's books and editor of two anthologies, as well as author of much uncollected journalism, but also as a major public figure, cultural commentator, and proponent of activist views in areas ranging from Canadian nationalism, through feminism, to such international causes as Amnesty International and PEN.

Most of her fiction has been translated into several foreign languages; a new Atwood novel becomes a Canadian, American, and international best-seller immediately (only Robertson Davies, among Canadian writers, has a comparable international public). There is a Margaret Atwood Society, a Margaret Atwood Newsletter, and an ever-increasing number of scholars studying and teachers teaching her work in women's studies courses as well as North American literature courses world wide.

Atwood is not only an acclaimed writer, serious as well as popular, in several genres, but outspoken, sardonically memorable, and distinctly quotable on moral and political private and public issues and a stalwart spokesperson for Canadian literature. Her popular and influential contribution to the never-ending quest for the Canadian identity, Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972), is, among other things, a manifesto for her own work; what began as a polemical political comment on Canadian cultural history is now a part of that very history.

She alternated prose and poetry throughout her career, often publishing a book of each in the same or consecutive years. While in a general sense the poems represent "private" myth and "personal" expression and the novels a more public and "social" expression, there is, as these dates suggest, continual interweaving and cross-connection between her prose and her poetry. The short story collections, Dancing Girls (1977), Bluebeard's Egg (1983), and especially the short stories cum prose poems in the remarkable, overtly metafictional collection Murder in the Dark (1983), bridge the gap between her poetry and her prose.

Her first six volumes of verse—The Circle Game (1966), The Animals in That Country (1968), The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970), Procedures for Underground (1970), Power Politics (1971), and You Are Happy (1974)—are represented in Selected Poems (1976); the three subsequent volumes—Two-Headed Poems (1978), True Stories (1981), and Interlunar (1984)—in Selected Poems II (1986).

She wrote in an exact, vivid, witty, and often sharply discomfiting style in both prose and poetry. Her writing is often grotesque and unsparing in its gaze at pain and unfairness:

   you fit into me
   like a hook into an eye
   fish hook
   open eye
   (Power Politics)

"Nature" in her poems is a haunted, explicitly Canadian wilderness in which, unnervingly, man is the major predator of and terror to the "animals of that country," including himself. Her poetry works with myths, public and private; metamorphosis; process-product dualities of entrapment, like Blake's "mind-forg'd manacles"; and the vertical movement from underground to surface exemplified by such mythic figures as Persephone and Orpheus.

The Canadian critic Northrop Frye and the little-known, much underrated Canadian poet Jay Macpherson, were key influences on her early books. The Journals of Susanna Moodie echo the national themes of Survival, the individual's struggle with wilderness ending in a sort of defeat: "I planted him in that country/Like a flag," says Moodie of her drowned son. In Power Politics the grimmer, more mordant phases of Atwood's sex-war feminism become evident in poems with the power of a less vulnerable, more life-affirming Sylvia Plath.

Atwood's novels are social satires as well as identity quests. Her typical heroine is a modern urban woman, often a writer or artist, always with some social-professional commitment, fighting for self and survival in a society where men are the all-too-friendly enemy but women are often complicit in their own entrapment. Critics of Atwood, largely feminist in approach, see Surfacing (1972) as a Jungian "search for the essential female self" and The Edible Woman (1969) and Lady Oracle (1976) as comedies of female re-integration, the latter also being notable for its hilarious and skillful parodies of the female Gothic. Life Before Man (1979), the least comic, is slower, more somber, built on internal thought events, unified by the poetic subtexts drawn from the documentary detail of its setting in the Royal Ontario Museum.

Bodily Harm (1981) is explicitly political and feminist. Its heroine experiences violence and mutilation—bodily harm—in the double setting of the hospital where she endures her mastectomy and the tropical island from whose political violence she discovers she cannot stay aloof. She is there, it turns out, to "bear witness" to the torture inscribed on the female body of a companion, to record this mutilation in her reporter's language, and to acknowledge her own involvement through a compassion that releases the "hope" caught in "Pandora's box."

The Handmaid's Tale, a feminist rewriting (published in 1985) of the dystopia of Orwell's 1984, is, like all dystopias, not a novel of the future but a critique of the present day in which the seeds of a destructive, misogynistic puritan revival are already planted. It is Atwood's closest approach to science fiction.

Cat's Eye (1988) is a self-portrait of the (female) artist returning to the Toronto of her childhood to recover her own past and with it a resurgence of her creativity. Her flashback recollections alternate with her satiric observations of the contemporary cultural scene in a narrative pattern found in most of Atwood's novels.

More recent books include a children's book, For the Birds (1990), and two volumes of short fiction, Wilderness Tips (1991) and Good Bones (1992). In 1993 Atwood published The Robber Bride, which was co-winner of Ontario's Trillium Book Award and won the City of Toronto Award.

Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature, the printed version of the four Clarendon Lectures delivered at Oxford University (England) in 1991 was published around the world in 1995. Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut and The New Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories were released in 1995.

Morning in the Burned House (1995) was her first book of new poetry in a decade. Alias Grace was first published in hardcover in the fall of 1996 and in the summer of 1997 as a paperback. It is the story of an infamous, 19th-century Canadian woman convicted as an accessory in the murder of her employer and his mistress. The lead character spends most of the novel in limbo between prison and an insane asylum, with doctors and psychologists attempting to diagnose her.

Atwood's literary works have also been recognized in other forms of artistic endeavor. In 1981, she worked on a television drama, Snowbird (CBC), and had her children's book Anna's Pet (1980) adapted for stage (1986).

One of the largest Atwood collections can be seen at The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, located at the University of Toronto. Manuscripts, reviews, critical responses, correspondence, and copies of both domestic and foreign editions are on display, though some areas of the collection are restricted access, requiring special permission for viewing or copying.

Atwood is known as a very accessible writer. One of her projects, the official Margaret Atwood Web site, is edited by Atwood herself and updated frequently. The Internet resource is an extensive, comprehensive guide to the literary life of the author, while also revealing a peek into Atwood's personality with the links to her favorite charities, such as the Artists Against Racism site, or jocular blurbs she posts when the whim hits. As well, the site provides dates of lectures and appearances, updates of current writing projects, and reviews she has written. The address is: http://www.web.net/owtoad/toc.htm

She is also a talented photographer and watercolorist. Her paintings are clearly illustrative of her prose and poetry and she did, on occasion, design her own book covers. Her collages and cover for The Journals of Susanna Moodie bring together the visual and verbal media.

Further Reading

All Atwood's novels and her collected poems are widely and internationally available, as is considerable criticism and scholarship. Two collections, Arnold and Cathy Davidson's The Art of Margaret Atwood: Essays in Criticism (1981) and Kathryn VanSpanckeren and Jan Garden Castro's Margaret Atwood: Vision and Forms (1988), along with Sherrill Grace's book Violent Duality: A Study of Margaret Atwood (1980), are good places to start exploring her, but Atwood is a very accessible writer who is perhaps best approached directly.

See the official Margaret Atwood Web site, edited by Atwood herself, as well as BDD Online, at http://www.bbd.com and other web sites. □

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Atwood, Margaret

Margaret Atwood

Born: November 18, 1939
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Canadian author, novelist, poet and cultural activist

One of Canada's best-known writers, Margaret Atwood is an internationally famous novelist, poet, and critic. She is also committed to positive change in our way of life.

Early freedom

Margaret Eleanor Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in 1939. She moved with her family to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, in 1945 and to Toronto, Canada, in 1946. Until she was eleven she spent half of each year in the northern Ontario wilderness, where her father worked as an entomologist (insect scientist). Her writing was one of the many things she enjoyed in her "bush" time, away from school. At age six she was writing morality plays, poems, comic books, and had started a novel. School and preadolescence brought her a taste for home economics. Her writing resurfaced in high school, though, where she returned to writing poetry. Her favorite writer as a teen was Edgar Allan Poe (18091849), who was famous for his dark mystery stories.

Atwood was sixteen years old when she made her commitment to pursue writing as a lifetime career. She studied at Victoria College, University of Toronto, where she received a bachelor's degree in 1961. Then she went on to complete her master's degree at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1962. Atwood also studied at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1962 to 1963 and from 1965 to 1967.

Honors and awards

Atwood has received more than fifty-five awards, including two Governor General's Awards, the first in 1966 for The Circle Game, her first major book of poems; the second for her 1985 novel, The Handmaid's Tale, which was made into a movie. In 1981 she worked on a television drama, Snowbird, and had her children's book Anna's Pet (1980) adapted for stage (1986). Her recognition is often reflective of the wide range of her work. She is also a major public figure and cultural commentator.

Most of Atwood's fiction has been translated into several foreign languages. A new Atwood novel becomes a Canadian, American, and international bestseller immediately. There is a Margaret Atwood Society, a Margaret Atwood Newsletter, and an ever-increasing number of scholars studying and teaching her work in women's studies courses and in North American literature courses worldwide.

Style and statement

Atwood has alternated prose (writing that differs from poetry due to lack of rhyme and closeness to everyday speech) and poetry throughout her career, often publishing a book of each in the same or consecutive years. While in a general sense the poems represent "private" myth and "personal" expression and the novels represent a more public and "social" expression, there is, as these dates suggest, continual interweaving and cross-connection between her prose and her poetry. The short story collections, Dancing Girls (1977), Bluebeard's Egg (1983), and especially the short stories in the remarkable collection Murder in the Dark (1983) bridge the gap between her poetry and her prose.

Atwood writes in an exact, vivid, and witty, style in both prose and poetry. Her writing is often unsparing in its gaze at pain and unfairness: "you fit into me / like a hook into an eye / a fish hook / an open eye" (from Power Politics ) "Nature" in her poems is a haunted, clearly Canadian wilderness in which, dangerously, man is the major predator of and terror to the "animals of that country," including himself.

Atwood's novels are sarcastic jabs at society as well as identity quests. Her typical heroine is a modern urban woman, often a writer or artist, always with some social-professional commitment. The heroine fights for self and survival in a society where men are the all-too-friendly enemy, but where women are often participants in their own entrapment.

Atwood is also a talented photographer and watercolorist. Her paintings are clearly descriptive of her prose and poetry and she did, on occasion, design her own book covers. Her collages and cover for The Journals of Susanna Moodie bring together the visual and the written word.

Popular and accessible

Atwood is known as a very accessible writer. One of her projects, the official Margaret Atwood Website, is edited by Atwood herself and updated frequently. The Internet resource is an extensive, comprehensive guide to the literary life of the author. It also reveals a peek into Atwood's personality with the links to her favorite charities, such as the Artists Against Racism site, or humorous blurbs she posts when the whim hits. As well, the site provides dates of lectures and appearances, updates of current writing projects, and reviews she has written. The address is: http://www.owtoad.com

Margaret Atwood's contribution to Canadian literature was most recently recognized in 2000, when she received Britain's highest literary award, the $47,000 Booker Prize. Atwood donated the prize money to environmental and literary causes. Her generosity is not at all a surprising development to her many fans.

For More Information

Cooke, Nathalie. Margaret Atwood: A Biography. Toronto: ECW Press, 1998.

Howells, Coral Ann. Margaret Atwood. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.

VanSpanckeren, Kathryn, and Jan Garden Castro. Margaret Atwood: Vision and Forms. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1988.

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Atwood, Margaret Eleanor

Margaret Eleanor Atwood, 1939–, Canadian novelist and poet. Atwood is a skilled and powerful storyteller whose novels, mainly set in the near future, sometimes make use of such popular genres as historical, detective, and science fiction. Her writing typically treats contemporary issues, such as feminism, sexual politics, the fate of Canada and Canadian literature, and the intrusive nature of mass society. Her best-known novel, The Handmaid's Tale (1986), is set in a mid-21st-century American dystopia ruled by religious extremists. Among her other works are the novels The Edible Woman (1969), Surfacing (1972), Bodily Harm (1981), The Robber Bride (1993), Alias Grace (1996), The Blind Assassin (2000; Booker Prize), The Penelopiad (2005), and the postapocalyptic trilogy Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013). Her short stories have been collected in Dancing Girls (1983), Bluebeard's Eggs (1993), Moral Disorder (2006), and Stone Mattress (2014). She also has written several volumes of poetry, including The Circle Game (1965), Power Politics (1970), and True Stories (1981), and numerous essays. Her nonfiction includes Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008) and In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011).

See interviews in E. G. Ingersoll, ed., Margaret Atwood: Conversations (1990) and V.-L. Beaulieu, ed., Two Solicitudes: Conversations (1998); biography by N. Cooke (1998); studies by A. E. and C. N. Davidson, ed. (1981), S. E. Grace and L. Weir (1983), F. Davey (1984), J. Mallinson (1984), J. H. Rosenberg (1984), B. H. Rigney (1987), J. McCombs, ed. (1988), K. VanSpanckeren and J. G. Castro, ed. (1988), S. Hengen (1993), E. Rao (1993), S. R. Wilson (1993), C. Nicholson, ed. (1994), C. A. Howells (1996), L. M. York, ed. (1994), K. F. Stein (1999), H. Bloom, ed. (2000), R. M. Nischik, ed. (2000), P. Cuder (2003), C. Tennant (2003), and S. R. Wilson (2003).

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Atwood, Margaret (Eleanor)

ATWOOD, Margaret (Eleanor)

Nationality: Canadian. Born: Ottawa, Ontario, 18 November 1939. Education: Victoria College, University of Toronto, 1957-61, B.A. 1961; Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, A.M. 1962; Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1962-63, 1965-67. Family: Married; one daughter. Career: Lecturer in English, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 1964-65; instructor in English, Sir George Williams University, Montreal, 1967-68; teacher of creative writing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, 1969-70; assistant professor of English, York University, Toronto, 1971-72. Editor and member of board of directors, House of Anansi Press, Toronto, 1971-73. Writer-in-residence, University of Toronto, 1972-73, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, 1985, Macquarie University, North Ryde, New South Wales, 1987, and Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, 1989; Berg Visiting Professor of English, New York University, 1986. President, Writers Union of Canada, 1981-82, and PEN Canadian Centre, 1984-86. Awards: E.J. Pratt medal, 1961; President's medal, University of Western Ontario, 1965; Governor-General's award, 1966, 1986; Centennial Commission prize, 1967; Union League Civic and Arts Foundation prize, 1969, and Bess Hogkin prize, 1974 (Poetry, Chicago); City of Toronto award, 1976, 1989; St. Lawrence award, 1978; Radcliffe medal, 1980; Molson award, 1981; Guggenheim fellowship, 1981; Welsh Arts Council International Writers prize, 1982; Ida Nudel Humanitarian award, 1986; Toronto Arts award, 1986; Los Angeles Times Book award, 1986; Arthur C. Clarke Science-Fiction award, for novel, 1987; Humanist of the Year award, 1987; National Magazine award, for journalism, 1988; Harvard University Centennial medal, 1990; Trillium award, for Wilderness Tips, 1992, for The Robber Bride, 1994; Trillium award for excellence in Ontario writing, 1995; Commonwealth Writer's prize, 1994, Sunday Times award for literary excellence, 1994, both for The Robber Bride. Chevalier dans L'Ordre des arts et des lettres, 1994; Giller prize 1996; Medal of Honor for Literature (National Arts Club), 1997. D. Litt.: Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, 1973; Concordia University, Montreal, 1980; Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, 1982; University of Toronto, 1983; Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, 1985; University of Waterloo, Ontario, 1985; University of Guelph, Ontario, 1985; Victoria College, 1987; University of Leeds, 1994; McMaster University, 1996. LL.D.: Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, 1974. Honorary degree from Oxford University, Oxford, England, 1998. Companion, Order of Canada, 1981. Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 1987; Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1988. Agent: Phoebe Larmore, 228 Main Street, Venice, California 90291, U.S.A. Address: c/o Oxford University Press, 70 Wynford Drive, Don Mills, Ontario M3C 1J9, Canada.

Publications

Novels

The Edible Woman. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, and London, Deutsch, 1969; Boston, Little Brown, 1970; New York, Bantam Books, 1996.

Surfacing. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1972; London, Deutsch, and New York, Simon and Schuster, 1973.

Lady Oracle. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, and New York, Simon and Schuster, 1976; London, Deutsch, 1977.

Life Before Man. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1979; New York, Simon and Schuster, and London, Cape, 1980.

Bodily Harm. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1981; New York, Simon and Schuster, and London, Cape, 1982.

The Handmaid's Tale. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1985;Boston, Houghton Mifflin, and London, Cape, 1986.

Cat's Eye. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1988; New York, Doubleday, and London, Bloomsbury, 1989.

The Robber Bride. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, New York, Doubleday, and London, Bloomsbury, 1993.

Alias Grace. New York, Nan A. Talese, 1996.

The Blind Assassin. New York, Nan A. Talese, 2000.

Short Stories

Dancing Girls and Other Stories. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1977; New York, Simon and Schuster, and London, Cape, 1982.

Encounters with the Element Man. Concord, New Hampshire, Ewert, 1982.

Murder in the Dark: Short Fictions and Prose Poems. Toronto, CoachHouse Press, 1983; London, Cape, 1984.

Bluebeard's Egg and Other Stories. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1983; Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1986; London, Cape, 1987.

Unearthing Suite. Toronto, Grand Union Press, 1983.

Hurricane Hazel and Other Stories. Helsinki, Eurographica, 1986.

Wilderness Tips. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, New York, Doubleday, and London, Bloomsbury, 1991.

Good Bones. Toronto, Coach House Press, 1992; London, Bloomsbury, 1993; published as Good Bones and Simple Murders. New York, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1994.

In Our Nature: Stories of Wilderness, edited by Donna Seaman. NewYork, Dorling Kindersley, 2000.

Uncollected Short Stories

"When It Happens," in The Editors' Choice 1, edited by George E. Murphy, Jr. New York, Bantam, 1985.

"Theology," in Harper's (New York), September 1988.

"Kat," in New Yorker, 5 March 1990.

"Weight," in Vogue (New York), August 1990.

"Hack Wednesday," in New Yorker, 17 September 1990.

Contributor, Fiction, edited by R. S. Gwynn. New York, HarperCollins, 1993.

Contributor, Myths and Voices: Contemporary Canadian Fiction, edited by David Lampe. Fredonia, New York, White Pine Press, 1993.

Plays

Radio Plays:

The Trumpets of Summer, 1964.

Television Plays:

The Servant Girl, 1974; Snowbird, 1981; Heaven on Earth, with Peter Pearson, 1986.

Poetry

Double Persephone. Toronto, Hawskhead Press, 1961.

The Circle Game (single poem). Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, CranbrookAcademy of Art, 1964; introduction by Sherrill Grace. Toronto, House of Anansi, 1998.

Talismans for Children. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, CranbrookAcademy of Art, 1965.

Kaleidoscopes: Baroque. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, CranbrookAcademy of Art, 1965.

Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Cranbrook Academy of Art, 1966.

The Circle Game (collection). Toronto, Contact Press, 1966.

Expeditions. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Cranbrook Academy ofArt, 1966.

The Animals in That County. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1968;Boston, Little Brown, 1969.

Who Was in the Garden. Santa Barbara, California, Unicorn, 1969.

Five Modern Canadian Poets, with others, edited by Eli Mandel. Toronto, Holt Rinehart, 1970.

The Journals of Susanna Moodie. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1970; Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1997.

Oratorio for Sasquatch, Man and Two Androids: Poems for Voices. Toronto, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1970.

Procedures for Underground. Toronto, Oxford University Press, andBoston, Little Brown, 1970.

Power Politics. Toronto, Anansi, 1971; New York, Harper, 1973; second edition published as Power Politics: Poems, Concord, Ontario, Anansi, 1996.

You Are Happy. Toronto, Oxford University Press, and New York, Harper, 1974.

Selected Poems. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1976; New York, Simon and Schuster, 1978.

Marsh, Hawk. Toronto, Dreadnaught, 1977.

Two-Headed Poems. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1978; NewYork, Simon and Schuster, 1981.

True Stories. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1981; New York, Simon and Schuster, and London, Cape, 1982.

Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written. Toronto, Salamander Press, 1981.

Snake Poems. Toronto, Salamander Press, 1983.

Interlunar. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1984; London, Cape, 1988.

Selected Poems 2: Poems Selected and New 1976-1986. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1986; Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1987.

Selected Poems 1966-1984. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1990.

Poems 1965-1975. London, Virago Press, 1991.

Morning in the Burned House. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, Boston, Houghton Mifflin, and London, Virago, 1995.

Eating Fire: Selected Poetry 1965-1995. London, Virago, 1998.

Other (for children)

Up in the Tree. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1978.

Anna's Pet, with Joyce Barkhouse. Toronto, Lorimer, 1980.

For the Birds. Toronto, Douglas and McIntyre, 1990.

Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, illustrated by MaryannKovalski. New York, Workman, 1995.

Other

Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. Toronto, Anansi, 1972.

Days of the Rebels 1815-1840. Toronto, Natural Science of Canada, 1977.

Second Words: Selected Critical Prose. Toronto, Anansi, 1982;Boston, Beacon Press, 1984.

Margaret Atwood: Conversations, edited by Earl G. Ingersoll. Princeton, New Jersey, Ontario Review Press, 1990.

Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature. NewYork, Oxford University Press, 1995.

The Labrador Fiasco. London, Bloomsbury, 1996.

A Quiet Game: And Other Early Works, edited by Kathy Chung andSherill Grace, with illustrations by Kathy Chung. Edmonton, Alberta, Juvenilia Press, 1997.

Two Solicitudes: Conversations (with Victory-Levy Beaulieu), translated by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1998.

Introduction, Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, edited by George Plimpton. New York, Modern Library, 1998.

Contributor, The Case Against "Free Trade": GATT, NAFTA, and the Globalization of Corporate Power, edited by Ralph Nader. San Francisco, Earth Island Press, 1993.

Editor, The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English. Toronto, New York, and Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1982.

Editor, with Robert Weaver, The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English. Toronto, Oxford, and New York, Oxford Univeristy Press, 1986.

Editor, The Canlit Food Book: From Pen to Palate: A Collection of Tasty Literary Fare. Toronto, Totem, 1987.

Editor, with Shannon Ravenel, The Best American Short Stories 1989. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1989.

Editor, Barbed Lyres. Toronto, Key Porter, 1990.

Editor, with Barry Callaghan, Gwendolyn MacEwen. Toronto, ExileEditions, 1994.

Editor, with Robert Weaver, The New Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English. New York, Oxford University Press, 1995.

Foreword, The Book Group Book: A Thoughtful Guide to Forming and Enjoying a Stimulating Book Discussion Group, edited by Ellen Slezak. Chicago Review Press, 1995.

*

Bibliography:

"Margaret Atwood: An Annotated Bibliography" (prose and poetry) by Alan J. Horne, in The Annotated Bibliography of Canada's Major Authors 1-2 edited by Robert Lecker and Jack David, Downsview, Ontario, ECW Press, 2 vols., 1979-80.

Manuscript Collection:

Fisher Library, University of Toronto.

Critical Studies:

Margaret Atwood: A Symposium edited by Linda Sandler, Victoria, British Columbia, University of Victoria, 1977; A Violent Duality by Sherrill E. Grace, Montreal, Véhicule Press, 1979, and Margaret Atwood: Language, Text, and System edited by Grace and Lorraine Weir, Vancouver, University of British Columbia Press, 1983; The Art of Margaret Atwood: Essays in Criticism edited by Arnold E. Davidson and Cathy N. Davidson, Toronto, Anansi, 1981; Margaret Atwood by Jerome H. Rosenberg, Boston, Twayne, 1984; Margaret Atwood: A Feminist Poetics by Frank Davey, Vancouver, Talonbooks, 1984; Margaret Atwood by Barbara Hill Rigney, London, Macmillan, 1987; Margaret Atwood: Reflection and Reality by Beatrice Mendez-Egle, Edinburg, Texas, Pan American University, 1987; Critical Essays on Margaret Atwood edited by Judith McCombs, Boston, Hall, 1988; Margaret Atwood: Vision and Forms edited by Kathryn van Spanckeren and Jan Garden Castro, Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, 1988; The Novels of Margaret Atwood and Anita Desai: A Comparative Study in Feminist Perspectives by Sunaina Singh, New Delhi, Creative Books, 1994; Various Atwoods: Essays on the Later Poems, Short Fiction, and Novels, edited by Lorraine M. York, Concord, Ontario, Anansi, 1995; The Influence of Painting on Five Canadian Writers: Alice Munro, Hugh Hood, Timothy Findley, Margaret Atwood, and Michael Ondaatje by John Cooke, Lewiston, New York, Edwin Mellen Press, 1996; Margaret Atwood by Coral Ann Howells, New York, St. Martin's, 1996; Re/membering Selves: Alienation and Survival in the Novels of Margaret Atwood and Margaret Laurence by Coomi S. Vevaina, New Delhi, Creative Books, 1996; Margaret Atwood: A Biography by Nathalie Cooke, Toronto, ECW Press, 1998; The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out by Rosemary Sullivan, Toronto, HarperFlamingo Canada, 1998; Margaret Atwood Revisited by Karen F. Stein, New York, Twayne, 1999; Margaret Atwood, edited by Harold Bloom, Philadelphia, Chelsea House, 2000.

* * *

In interviews, Margaret Atwood has often commented that when she started writing in the late 1950s and early 1960s, "Canadian literature" was considered a contradiction in terms. Arguably, as a novelist, poet, critic, and literary/political activist, Atwood has done more to put Canada on the literary map than any other author. While Atwood is an accomplished poetand the interconnections between her poetry, short fiction, and her longer works are both rich and complexit is primarily as a novelist that she has gained an international reputation. Her first novel, The Edible Woman, establishes a preoccupation that remains central in all her subsequent fiction: power politics, and in particular, sexual politics. Excavating their layered histories and formative childhood experiences, Atwood explores and exposes the unequal power relations that shape and inhibit the lives of her female protagonists. Novel by novel, she extends the scope and the complexity of this examination in an astute commentary on North American social and cultural politics and an unflinching recognition of our all too human capacity to both inflict and sustain harm. Although Atwood refuses any designations that may pigeonhole her as a writer, her work is clearly feminist, and distinctively Canadian.

While Atwood's first three novels are quite different in form and toneanti-comedy, mythic quest, and Gothic spoofthey are united by their focus on the individual effects of a society that encourages women to collude in their own objectification. The three protagonists: Marian in The Edible Woman, the significantly unnamed narrator in Surfacing, and Joan Foster in Lady Oracle, all experience (or witness) the transformations demanded by gendered social norms, with their illusory promise of a happily ever after. Atwood's heroines, however, are not the stuff of which fairy tales or costume gothics are made. Thus, The Edible Woman traces the ambivalent responses of Marian MacAlpin (who, ironically, works for a market research firm), to her upcoming marriage to a young, rising lawyer. Here, Atwood links the economy of a consumer society with women's place in the economy of the marriage market for Marian's engagement to Peter marks her transition from subject consumer to object consumed as she becomes entrapped by his conservative expectations of regulation femininity. As Peter, the epitome of a shrink-wrapped husband-to-be, starts subjecting Marian to his ideal wife makeover, Marian experiences an increasing sense of her self as an object, an alienation that is textually signaled by the movement from first-to third-person narration. While she generally acquiesces to Peter's demands, her unconscious rejection of this process is played out quite literally in terms of consumption: Marian's body begins to refuse food. This rejection begins with steak, but as the wedding day approaches her rebellion escalates in a symbolic identification with any edible object. Finally, she flees her own engagement party before she is trapped forever in the menacing photographic frame of Peter's desires. Her return to subject status is marked by the baking of an edible woman; presenting this cake surrogate to her shocked fiancé, she rejects both his marriage proposal and his objectifying construction of her. Eating the cake herself, she moves from consumed victim to autonomous consumer.

Atwood's second novel develops many of the thematic concerns of her poetry in evocative prose. Like The Edible Woman, Surfacing presents a woman disabled by the consequences of her "marital" experience, but the protagonist's journey from psychic and emotional paralysis to unified agency has a powerful mythic dimension that the earlier novel lacks. With three companions, the narrator returns to the landscape of her childhooda remote cabin on a lake in Northern Quebecto search for her missing father. She is ambivalent about revisiting the scene of her past, because it reminds her of a more immediate event, the loss of her child in a recent divorce. It is an experience that has left her anaesthetized, cut off from her emotions by a form of mind/body split, and her memories are so painful that she represses them in willful amnesia. The quest in search of her father, however, triggers a quest of self-discovery, as the narrator's history refuses to remain submerged; she is haunted by memories of her parents, a marriage that never was, and her complicity in the abortion of her child. Eventually, she is forced to confront her specters when a dive below the lake surface becomes a symbolic dive into her own unconscious. Abandoning her manipulative companions, she ritualistically sheds all vestiges of a language and culture that has led her into self-betrayal and murder. Alone on the island, she undergoes a shamanistic cleansing madness, ultimately surfacing with a new-found sense of self. The novel's conclusion resonates with Atwood's contemporaneous thematic guide to Canadian literature, Survival. Poised to return to the world that she has left, the narrator's vision leaves her with a resolution that speaks to her experience as both a Canadian and as a woman: "This above all, to refuse to be a victim."

Lady Oracle comes as something of a light relief as Atwood's concerns with metamorphosis and identity are given a comic spin. With a protagonist whose many incarnations give new meaning to "a.k.a.," Atwood parodies the conventions of romance and of the gothic in an exploration of the damaging effects of mass-produced fantasies for women. Joan Foster is the ultimate escape artist whose identity is made up of a number of different personae. Ostensibly, she is Joan Foster, self-effacing wife of an ineffectually radical husband, but she is also Joan Foster, celebrated author of a volume of feminist poetry. Secretly, she is Louisa K. Delacourt, author of some fifteen costume gothics. Lurking in the background is a freakish circus clown figure, the Fat Lady, a lingering self-conception from her years as an overweight, unloved child. When, under threat of blackmail, Joan's various lives are in danger of converging, she fakes her own drowning and flees to Italy. These personae, however, continue to surface as she completes her latest Harlequinesque offering, Stalked By Love, in an ironic and unconscious identification with her heroine's predicament. For all its droll comedyAtwood even includes parodic autobiographical asidesLady Oracle, like The Edible Woman, contains a serious message. Although Joan's recognition of her situation is debatable, the novel demonstrates the debilitating consequences for women of the beauty myth and the conventional romance plot.

Life Before Man is Atwood's bleakest exploration of relations between the sexes, and her most atypical novel to date. Although popular with readers, it has been less well received by critics, partly because of its uncharacteristic pessimism. Set in a claustrophobic one-mile radius of metropolitan Toronto, the novel is dominated by a central symbolic locale, the dinosaur exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. Atwood's specimens are emotionally isolated characters involved in a love triangle: Elizabeth, whose icy, self-control is a product of a dreadful childhood; Nate, her indecisive, politically disillusioned husband; and Lesje, a dreamy paleontologist who becomes Nate's lover. Covering a precisely dated two-year span, and structured by the alternating perceptions of the participants in this banal ménage à trois, Life Before Man traces the frustrated interactions of characters who cannot connect. Events in the novel are unrelentingly quotidian; even the dramatic suicide of Elizabeth's lover occurs before the story opens. Lesje's obsession with prehistory focuses the novel's exploration of time and extinction, since the age of the dinosaurs provides a metaphysical conceit for the eyeblink of human existence in cosmic terms. Perhaps, Atwood implies, we are only in the middle of a lengthy evolutionary process; certainly, the changes undergone by the three protagonists are minimal at best. Since they are products of social milieu that is all too recognizable as our own, "life before man" suggests that at this historical moment ours is a condition that is not yet fully human.

Challenged about the apparent hopelessness of Life Before Man, Atwood asserts the writer's responsibility to bear witness to the world around her. Moving her examination of power politics into an international arena, Atwood's next two novels, Bodily Harm and The Handmaid's Tale, translate this commitment into a moral imperative. Here, Atwood outlines the interconnected nature of various oppressions for the protagonists' personal circumstances are literally or symbolically associated with systemic abuses of power. Initially, both Rennie Wilford in Bodily Harm and Offred in The Handmaid's Tale are complacently assured of their own political neutrality, in the mistaken belief that violence happens elsewhere to other people. They quickly learn, however, that immunity is a political myth. Rennie becomes embroiled in the after-effects of British and American foreign policy, while Offred exists in a chilling aggregate of historical and contemporary events pushed to their logical extreme: a totalitarian theocracy whose seeds lie in America's Puritan history. Both take up the challenge of documenting their experiences, bearing witness to the brutal realities of the worlds that they inhabit. The novels are saved from didacticism, however, by their narrative strength and the ironic observations of the protagonists who demonstrate that history, especially personal history, is never reducible to simplistic black and white categorizations.

Bodily Harm 's protagonist is a journalist of sorts, but her work centers on surfaces rather than depths: Rennie writes trivial lifestyle pieces for city magazines. Her own insulated lifestyle, however, is disrupted by a malignant tumor. After a mastectomy, and subsequent abandonment by her lovera more sinister version of Peter in The Edible Woman she flees to a Caribbean island attempting to escape her feelings of violation and a life that has become too horrifically real. Structured associatively, rather than chronologically, Bodily Harm demonstrates Atwood's talent for mining the multilayered possibilities of metaphorical language as she links sexism with imperialism, cancer of the female body with cancer of the body politic. The fragmented narrative echoes Rennie's own sense of dismemberment. Like the narrator in Surfacing, she is alienated from the body that has betrayed her, a divorce that symbolically complements her inability to connect with others. Thus, she refuses to engage with the political situation in her island getaway, preferring instead to remain a professional tourist. When the island is shaken by a political coup, however, Rennie is dragged unwillingly into the thick of it. Witnessing the brutal torture of a defenseless prisoner, and the equally viscous beating of her friend and cellmate, Lora, Rennie starts making some personal and political connections. Finally, she realizes the illusory nature of her belief in her own political exemption, and of the pressing need for massive involvement. Clearly, Atwood's own involvement with Amnesty International marks this novel, for Rennie's projected response to the Canadian officials who release her and request her silence is a telling resolution: "In any case she is a subversive. She was not one once but now she is. A reporter. She will pick her time; then she will report."

The Handmaid's Tale Atwood's first sustained prose foray into speculative fictionstruck many as a radical departure, but it is merely a versatile variation in her ongoing exploration of the intersections of sex and power. It is also the novel that best exemplifies her understanding of the political, a term that she defines as "who's allowed to do what to whom, who gets what from whom, who gets away with it and how." Revisioning Orwell's 1984 in feminist terms, Atwood creates the Republic of Gilead, a dystopian projection extrapolated from current trends. Although some critics derided its plausibility, the path of American affairs since the novel's publication makes The Handmaid's Tale read like prophetic realism. In Atwood's not-too-distant patriarchal future, New England has been taken over by right-wing Christian fundamentalists whose family values involve the state-enforced reduction of women to economic and biological functions, justified by selective readings of the Old Testament. As one of the few fertile women in a polluted world, the protagonist's role is that of a surrogate mother; she is a handmaid, ritually impregnated by the paternalistic Commander whose name she bears. Offred's "now" is partially explained by the memories that both pain and sustain her in a series of flashbacks to a past very similar to our own present. Then, Offred's chosen absence from history offered freedom; in Gilead this imposed absence constitutes historical erasure. Thus, her account documents her struggle to maintain her identity in a society that refuses to acknowledge it. Prohibited from access to pens or books, Offred's precocious command of language proves central to her self-preservation. And of course Offred is constructing and preserving her identity through the fragmented story that she relates, thus her text is strewn with postmodern allusions to the role of the reader in that process. As a subversive reporter on experience, Offred's plea for an audience becomes all the more pressing in the light of the ironic historical notes that conclude the novel.

With Cat's Eye, The Robber Bride, and Alias Grace, Atwood returns to the Toronto setting of her earlier work to explore public and private histories, and the vicissitudes of female friendships. In many ways, Cat's Eye is also a return to the territory covered in Surfacing, not only in its autobiographical echoes, but also in its exploration of time and memory. Both present an artist protagonist reluctant to examine her personal and historical depths, who eventually wrestles with her inner demons in a psychic exorcism, but Cat's Eye 's complexities are more subtle and more fully realized. The novel is retrospective both in form and content. A retrospective exhibition brings a grudging Elaine Risley back to the city of her childhood in a return that initiates an imaginative narrative retrospective of her own supposedly forgotten past. A child of the 1940s and 1950s, (like Atwood), her reflections render the Toronto scene in every minute detail, thus Cat's Eye functions not only as memoir, but also as a social document of post-war Canadian culture. The dramatic center of the novel lies in Elaine's childhood experience of victimization at the hands of her three best friends, and in her ambivalent feelings about the chief agent of her feminine indoctrination and torment, Cordelia. As Atwood presents it, the world of little girls is not marked by sugar and spice, but rather by the same power politics that characterize adult life. Artistic insight is offered, however, in the paintings that are the key to Elaine's unresolved anxieties, and ultimately her attempt to master her past in a visionary blend of revenge and forgiveness, love and loss. Cat's Eye is perhaps Atwood's most profound achievement for here she, like her protagonist, transforms the scattered details of a life into unified work of art.

If Cat's Eye ventures into the uncharted terrain of malicious little girls, then The Robber Bride plumbs the depths of female sexual competitiveness. Here, Atwood braids the contrasting histories and perceptions of three battle-scarred "veterans"Charis, Tony, and Rozwhose weaknesses are exploited by a machiavellian seductress. In a comic gender inversion of Grimm's tale, the titular villain is Zenia, a protean femme fatale who invades the protagonists' lives only to make off with the bootytheir men. Indeed, warfare is the dominant motif, for Zenia's sexual terrorism is played out against a backdrop of past and present military conflict. As in Bodily Harm, the personal and the political are intricately intermingled. The Robber Bride also develops Atwood's characteristic concern with formative influences and female identity since Zenia, like Cordelia in Cat's Eye, functions not only as an antagonist, but also as a doppelgänger for each of the characters. Although each woman's point of view is symmetrically apportioned, it is Tonythe text's literal and figurative historianwhose perspective frames the novel. Musing on the ambiguous promise of History's explanatory power, and its relation to the inexplicability of Zenia, it is she who wonders whether the evil that Zenia represents may not also be a part of us.

With Alias Grace, her most recent novel, Atwood contributes to the contemporary boom in historical fiction, even as she indulges the fascination with "bad girls" that marks her previous two novels. Raiding the nineteenth-century archive, Atwood presents the richly evoked history of Canada's answer to Lizzie Borden: the "celebrated murderess," Grace Marks, convicted of abetting the murder of her Tory employer and his housekeeper/mistress. A Zenia who is allowed to tell her own story, Grace calmly exposes the contradictory constructions of her character, and unsettles the conventional expectations of Simon Jordan, the ambitious doctor who hopes to make his reputation by curing her apparent amnesia about the case. Like the imprisoned handmaid, Grace's tale is her only power and she wields her ability with consummate skill; she is as adept at storytelling as she is at the female art of quilt-making, the novel's dominant, somewhat overdetermined metaphor. Grace Marks's narrative voice is quintessential Atwooddispassionate, laconic, devastating in its acuitybut, much like the historians who consider the handmaid's tale, Simon Jordan cannot "hear" its political import or register his own complicity in the unequal class and gender system that her story so subtly exposes. Exhibiting the same prurient interest in Grace's case as the salivating public (and, implicitly, the reader), Simon longs for the gory details; an ever enigmatic Grace provides an uncompromisingly detailed account of the social and economic circumstances that may (or may not) have led a housemaid to murder. Although Alias Grace contains a "revelation" that demonstrates Atwood's continued attraction to the psychological possibilities afforded by the gothic mode, even this sensational conclusion is ambiguous. Ultimately, the question of Grace Marks's guilt or innocence is subordinated to a more telling exposé of the power politics that constitute Atwood's abiding concern. In this, her first extended exploration of Canada's past since The Journals of Susanna Moodie, Atwood reiterates and historicizes the central tenet of her moral vision: our human potential to be both a victim and victimizer and our responsibility to be neither.

Jackie Buxton

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Atwood, Margaret Eleanor

Atwood, Margaret Eleanor (1939– ) Canadian novelist, poet, and critic. Best known outside Canada for her novels, she also published numerous volumes of poetry. Her debut novel, The Edible Woman (1969), received immediate acclaim for its stylish and articulate treatment of complex gender relationships. In 2000, Atwood won the Booker Prize with the novel The Blind Assassin. Other works include Surfacing (1972), the award-winning The Handmaid's Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1993), and Alias Grace (1996).

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Atwood, Margaret

Margaret Atwood

BORN: 1939, Ottawa, Canada

NATIONALITY: Canadian

GENRE: Fiction, poetry

MAJOR WORKS:
Double Persephone (1961)
The Circle Game (1966)
Surfacing (1972)
The Handmaid's Tale (1985)
The Blind Assassin (2000)

Overview

Internationally acclaimed as a novelist, poet, and short story writer, Margaret Atwood has emerged as a major figure in Canadian letters. Her fiction explores the relationship between humanity and nature, unsettling aspects of human behavior, and power as it pertains to gender and political roles. Best known for her novels, Atwood is also admired for her accomplishments as a poet, critic, essayist, and short story writer. Atwood has published more than forty books and has also worked in other media, including motion pictures, television, and theater.

Works in Biographical and Historical Context

Margaret Eleanor Atwood was born on November 18, 1939, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and grew up in suburban Toronto, a metropolitan area that appears in many of her stories and novels. As a child she spent her

summers at her family cottage in a wilderness region of Quebec, where her father, a forest entomologist, conducted research. She first began to write while in high school, contributing poetry, short stories, and cartoons to the school newspaper.

Early Acclaim as Poet As an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, Atwood met the critic Northrop Frye, who introduced her to the poetry of William Blake. Influenced by Blake's contrasting mythological imagery, Atwood wrote the poems collected in her first volume, Double Persephone (1961). While this work demonstrated her skill for using metaphorical language, it was her second volume of poetry, The Circle Game (1966), that garnered widespread critical recognition. The winner of the 1967 Governor General's Award, Canada's highest literary honor, The Circle Game established the major themes of Atwood's poetry: the inconsistencies of self-perception, the paradoxical nature of language, Canadian identity, and the conflicts between humankind and nature.

From Poet to Novelist During Rise of the Feminist Movement Atwood's work was regularly published in the popular Canadian press after the publication of her next volume of verse, The Animals in That Country (1968). After teaching university-level literature and creative-writing classes for a year, Atwood's

poetry began appearing in American as well as Canadian journals and magazines. In 1969, Atwood's first novel, The Edible Woman, was published, and she was awarded the Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Prize by the Chicago magazine Poetry. She also began writing the screenplay for The Edible Woman that same year. She soon became recognized as a novelist as well as a poet.

The late 1960s and early 1970s were watershed years in the women's rights movements in the United States and Canada. The National Organization for Women had been founded by Betty Friedan in 1966, and women across North America became vocal in their push for social and legal equality with men. Atwood became a leading voice in Canadian feminism. In 1971, after living in Europe for a year, Atwood moved to Toronto to teach literature and creative writing at York University. That year her book of verse, Power Politics, was published and her public visibility increased. Critics felt uncomfortable with the seemingly anti-male attitude of some of Power Politics, and the book produced a great deal of controversy—which raised Atwood's profile.

New Life on an Ontario Farm The years 1972 to 1976 were eventful for Atwood. She published another novel, Surfacing, in 1972. That same year, she became writer in residence at the University of Toronto, published the controversial Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, and separated from her husband. Soon afterward, she moved to a seventy-acre farm near Alliston, Ontario, with novelist Graeme Gibson and wrote the book of verse, You Are Happy (1974), which was awarded the Bess Hopkins Prize by Poetry magazine. Soon after her divorce from her first husband was finalized, Atwood and Gibson had a daughter, Jess. Atwood's short stories began appearing in magazines while she labored over her next novel, Lady Oracle (1976). She managed to produce, in 1978, both a children's book, Up in the Tree, and a new volume of poetry, Two Headed Poems. In that year, she also won the St. Lawrence Award for Fiction.

Real Threats Ficitonalized in A Handmaid's Tale Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Atwood's interest in women's rights remained keen. The movement was dealt a setback in 1982 when the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would have made sex discrimination illegal in the United States, failed to gain ratification despite ten years of lobbying and demonstrations by women. Around the same time, various groups who opposed the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade (1973), which had legalized abortion, began campaigns of intimidation and violence against women seeking abortions and doctors performing them. Disturbed by what she considered serious threats to women's rights, Atwood wrote her 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale, a dystopic story in which fundamentalist Christians have taken over the United States and relegated women to wholly subservient roles.

Continued Focus on the Lives of Women Since the publication of The Handmaid's Tale, which went on to become a best seller and a 1990 major motion picture, Atwood has achieved prominent stature in Canadian letters. Her work in the 1990s focused increasingly on the complicated relationships between women. The Robber Bride (1993), for example, features several friends whose lives are complicated not by male domination but by an aggressively self-centered woman. Atwood won the Man Booker Prize in 2000 for her novel, The Blind Assassin. The novel features a multilayered narrative with inter-weaving story lines that highlight Atwood's continued interest in the various social systems that support male domination of women. Atwood gave voice to the silent women of ancient myth in her 2005 work The Penelopiad, a retelling of the Greek myth of the homecoming of the hero Odysseus told from the point of view of his wife Penelope and her twelve handmaidens.

LITERARY AND HISTORICAL CONTEMPORARIES

Atwood's famous contemporaries include:

Anthony Burgess (1917–1993): A prolific writer and critic, Burgess is perhaps best remembered for his mediation on the nature of evil, A Clockwork Orange (1962), for which he developed a whole new slang language for his futuristic criminals.

Richard Nixon (1913–1994): Thirty-seventh president of the United States and thirty-sixth vice president (under Dwight Eisenhower), Nixon was elected to two terms beginning in 1968 but resigned in 1971 before completing his second term under a cloud of suspicion of criminal activity related to the Watergate scandal.

Anne Rice (1941–): Best-selling author of Gothic fantasy novels, including her famous Vampire Chronicles as well as religious and erotic works. Her recurring themes across all of these genres focus on love, death, immortality, and redemption.

Norma McCorvey (1947–): Known better by her legal pseudonym of “Jane Roe,” McCorvey found herself at the center of the legal firestorm known as the Roe v. Wade case, which overturned the criminalization of abortion in 1973.

Margaret Drabble (1939–): English novelist, biographer, and critic, Drabble has published seventeen novels to date, including The Millstone (1965), which earned her the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1966.

Works in Literary Context

Presenting the poet as both performer and creator, Atwood questioned the authenticity of the writing process and the effects of literature on both the writer and the

reader. Although all of her verse explores the uniqueness of the Canadian psyche, it was in The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970) that Atwood devoted her attention to what she calls the schizoid, double nature of Canada. Centered on the narratives of a Canadian pioneer woman, Journals examines why Canadians came to develop ambivalent feelings toward their country. Atwood further developed this dichotomy in Power Politics (1971), in which she explored the relationship between sexual roles and power structures by focusing on personal relationships and international politics. Her examination of destructive sex roles and her nationalistic concern over the subordinate role Canada plays to the United States are variations on the victor/victim theme that continue to dominate her work.

Nationalism In addition to her numerous collections of poetry, Atwood earned widespread attention for Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972), a seminal critical analysis of Canadian literature that served as a rallying point for the country's cultural nationalists. In Survival, Atwood argues that Canadians have always viewed themselves as victims, both of the forces of nature that confronted them as they settled in wilderness territory and of the colonialist powers that dominated their culture and politics. She proposed that Canadian writers should cultivate a more positive self-image by embracing indigenous traditions, including those of Native Americans and French Canadians, rather than identifying with Great Britain or the United States. Atwood's youthful experience in the wilderness of Quebec likely gave her an appreciation for the uniquely Canadian features of her country, and inspired her nationalist vision.

Feminism The title of Atwood's first collection of short fiction, Dancing Girls (1977), refers to the leading characters in the stories—women who obligingly accept the roles assigned to them by male-dominated society rather than following their own desires. This volume, which is considered more pessimistic in outlook than Atwood's earlier works, contains pointed observations concerning patriarchal social systems and emotionally withdrawn males. The protagonists of these short stories are intelligent, urbane, and alienated from their social environment. Sometimes this alienation emerges as psychosis, such as the schizophrenia experienced by Louise in “Polarities.” Commentators note that several of the stories in this volume reflect the theories of psychologist R. D. Laing, who regarded schizophrenia as an understandable reaction to irrational conditions created by modern society. Louise, hospitalized for psychotic behavior, is portrayed as being fundamentally in touch with reality, while her ostensibly “normal” friend Morrison is dismayed by his own moral shortcomings. As in most of Atwood's short stories, the female is depicted as intuitive, life-affirming, and allied with nature, while the male stands for violence, oppression, and artificial values.

Atwood turned to speculative fiction with her novel The Handmaid's Tale. In this work she created the dystopia of Gilead, a future America in which fundamentalist Christians have imposed dictatorial rule. Here, in a world polluted by toxic chemicals and nuclear radiation, most women are sterile; those who are able to bear children are forced to become “Handmaids,” official breeders who enjoy some privileges yet remain under constant surveillance. Almost all other women have been deemed expendable, except those who embrace the repressive religious hierarchy run by men. Although Atwood's strong feminist beliefs were evident in her previous novels, The Handmaid's Tale is the first of her works to be dominated by feminist concerns.

COMMON HUMAN EXPERIENCE

Much of Atwood's work is concerned with feminist themes. Whether she is writing about patriarchal social systems in subtle ways or exposing the repressive nature of sexism more pointedly, Atwood's fiction consistently reveals the author's strong feminist beliefs. Here are some more works that deal with feminist themes:

Woman on the Edge of Time (1976), a novel by Marge Piercy. Like Atwood, Piercy writes poetry and fiction with a feminist bent. This novel tells the story of a time-traveling psychiatric patient at Bellevue Hospital.

The Feminine Mystique (1963), a nonfiction work by Betty Friedan. Analyzing the frustrations of women at the time, this book served as the flash point of the modern feminist movement.

Orlando (1928), a novel by Virginia Woolf. A story that explores concepts of gender and how it impacts an individual's experience of life across time.

The Awakening (1899), a novel by Kate Chopin. This novel revolves around its female protagonist's ultimately tragic attempts to define her individuality in the stiflingly rigid society of the turn of the twentieth century.

Works in Critical Context

Ann Marie Lipinski, writing in the Chicago Tribune, described Atwood as “one of the leading literary luminaries, a national heroine of the arts.” Atwood's critical popularity is matched by her popularity with readers. She is a frequent guest on Canadian television and radio, her books are best sellers, and “people follow her on the streets and in stores,” as Judy Klemesrud reported in the New York Times. Atwood, Roy MacGregor of Maclean's explained, “is to Canadian literature as Gordon Lightfoot is to Canadian music, more institution than individual.” Atwood's popularity with both critics and the reading public has surprised her. “It's an accident that I'm a

successful writer,” she told MacGregor. “I think I'm kind of an odd phenomenon in that I'm a serious writer and I never expected to become a popular one, and I never did anything in order to become a popular one.”

The Handmaid's Tale The Handmaid's Tale is a radical departure from Atwood's previous novels. Her strong feminism was evident in earlier books, but The Handmaid's Tale is dominated by the theme. As Barbara Holliday wrote in the Detroit Free Press, Atwood “has been concerned in her fiction with the painful psychic warfare between men and women. In ‘The Handmaid's Tale,’ a futuristic satire, she casts subtlety aside, exposing woman's primal fear of being used and helpless.” Atwood's creation of an imaginary world is also new. As Mary Battiata noted in the Washington Post, The Handmaid's Tale is the first of Atwood's novels “not set in a worried corner of contemporary Canada.” Many critics favorably compare The Handmaid's Tale with George Orwell's 1984 and other distinguished dystopian novels for its disturbing extension of contemporary trends and its allegorical portrait of political extremism.

Atwood's Poetry Linda W. Wagner, writing in The Art of Margaret Atwood: Essays in Criticism, asserted that in Atwood's poetry “duality [is] presented as separation.” This separation leads her characters to be isolated from one another and from the natural world, resulting in their inability to communicate, to break free of exploitative social relationships, or to understand their place in the natural order. “In her early poetry,” Gloria Onley wrote in the West Coast Review, “[Atwood] is acutely aware of the problem of alienation, the need for real human communication and the establishment of genuine human community—real as opposed to mechanical or manipulative; genuine as opposed to the counterfeit community of the body politic.” Speaking of The Circle Game, Wagner wrote that “the personae of those poems never did make contact, never did anything but lament the human condition…. Relationships in these poems are sterile if not destructive.”

Suffering is common for the female characters in Atwood's poems, although they are never passive victims. In more recent works, they take active measures to improve their situations. Atwood's poems, the West Coast Review's Onley maintained, concern “modern woman's anguish at finding herself isolated and exploited (although also exploiting) by the imposition of a sex role power structure.” Atwood explained to Klemesrud in the New York Times that her suffering characters come from real life: “My women suffer because most of the women I talk to seem to have suffered.” By the early 1970s, this stance had made Atwood into “a cult author to faithful feminist readers,” as the Chicago Tribune's Lipinski commented. Atwood's popularity in the feminist community was unsought. “I began as a profoundly apolitical writer,” she told Lindsy Van Gelder of Ms., “but then I began to do what all novelists and some poets do: I began to describe the world around me.”

Responses to Literature

  1. Discuss the feminist themes in Atwood's work. How does she address such issues as the myths of femininity, women's need for self-fulfillment, their place in society, and their relationships with each other and with men?
  2. Atwood's fiction often deals with the theme of treachery. Discuss two scenes in her work that depict treachery. Why do you think Atwood is so interested in exploring this particular topic?
  3. Margaret Atwood's stories often show women coping with the restrictions placed on them by a male-dominated society. Using your dictionary and the Internet, write out a working definition of the word “patriarchy.” Can you think of any evidence that ours is a patriarchal society? Now imagine matriarchal, or woman-dominated, society. What might it be like and how would it differ from our own?
  4. Research and write about the differences between Canadian and American society. How does Atwood's views of Americans come through in her stories?
  5. Margaret Atwood wrote a poem called “Siren Song” in 1976. What is the mythological origin of the term siren song? How does the mythology relate to Atwood's poem?

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Sources

“Atwood, Margaret (Eleanor) (1939–).” DISCovering Authors. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003.

“Atwood, Margaret Eleanor (1939–).” In DISCovering Biography. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003.

“Overview of Margaret (Eleanor) Atwood.” In DISCovering Authors. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003.

Stevens, Peter. “Explorer/Settler/Poet.” In DISCovering Authors. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003.

“Study Questions for Margaret (Eleanor) Atwood.” In DISCovering Authors. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003.

Books

Davidson, Arnold E., and Cathy N. Davidson, eds. The Art of Margaret Atwood: Essays in Criticism. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1981.

Grace, Sherrill. Violent Duality: A Study of Margaret Atwood. Montreal: Vehicule Press, 1980.

Grace, Sherrill, and Lorraine Weir, eds. Margaret Atwood: Language, Text and System. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1983.

Napierkowski, Marie Rose, ed. “The Handmaid's Tale.” In Novels for Students. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale, 1998.

Ruby, Mary K., ed. “Siren Song.” In Poetry for Students. Vol. 7. Detroit: Gale, 2000.

Thomason, Elizabeth, ed. “The Edible Woman.” In Novels for Students. Vol. 12. Detroit: Gale, 2001.

————, ed. “Surfacing.” In Novels for Students. Vol. 13. Detroit: Gale, 2002.

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Atwood, Margaret

ATWOOD, Margaret

ATWOOD, Margaret. Canadian, b. 1939. Genres: Novels, Novellas/Short stories, Children's fiction, Poetry, Literary criticism and history. Career: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, lecturer in English, 1964-65; instructor in English, Sir George Williams University, Montreal, 1967-68, and University of Alberta, Edmonton, 1969-70; York University, Toronto, assistant professor of English, 1971-72; writer-in-residence, University of Toronto, 1972-73, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, 1985, Macquarie University, N. Ryde, NSW, 1987, and Trinity University, San Antonio, TX, 1989; New York University, NYC, Berg Chair, 1986. President, Writers' Union of Canada, 1981-82, and International PEN, Canadian Centre (English Speaking), 1984-86. Recipient of numerous awards for poetry and fiction. Publications: POETRY: The Circle Game, 1964; Kaleidescopes Baroque, 1965; Talismans for Children, 1965; Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein, 1966; The Animals in that Country, 1969; The Journals of Susanna Moodie, 1970; Procedures for Underground, 1970; Power Politics, 1971; You Are Happy, 1974; Selected Poems, 1976; Marsh, Hawk, 1977; Two-Headed Poems, 1978; True Stories, 1981; Notes towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written, 1981; Snake Poems, 1983; Interlunar, 1984; Selected Poems II: 1976-1986, 1987; Selected Poems, 1966-1984, 1990; Margaret Atwood Poems, 1965-1975, 1991; Morning in the Burned House, 1995. FICTION: The Edible Woman, 1969; Surfacing, 1972; Lady Oracle, 1976; Dancing Girls (stories), 1977; Life before Man, 1979; Bodily Harm, 1981; Encounters with the Element Man, 1982; Murder in the Dark, 1983; Bluebeard's Egg and Other Stories, 1983; Unearthing Suite (stories), 1983; The Handmaid's Tale, 1985; Cat's Eye, 1988; Wilderness Tips, 1991; Good Bones, 1992; The Robber Bride, 1993; Alias Grace, 1996; The Blind Assassin, 2000 (Booker Prize); Oryx and Crake, 2003. CHILDREN'S BOOKS: Up in the Tree, 1978; Anna's Pet, 1980; For the Birds, 1990; Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, 1995; Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, 2003. NON-FICTION: Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, 1972; Days of the Rebels, 1815-1840, 1977; Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, 1982; Negotiating with the Dead, 2002. OTHER: New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse, 1982; (with R. Weaver) The Oxford Book of Short Stories, in English, 1986; (ed.) The Canlit Food Book, 1987; (ed. with S. Ravenel) The Best American Short Stories 1989, 1989; Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature, 1995. Address: c/o McClelland & Stewart, 481 University Ave Ste 900, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 2E9.

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Atwood, Margaret

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Atwood, Margaret (Eleanor)

ATWOOD, Margaret (Eleanor)


Nationality: Canadian. Born: Ottawa, Ontario, 18 November 1939. Education: Victoria College, University of Toronto, 1957–61, B.A. 1961; Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, A.M. 1962; Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1962–63, 1965–67. Family: Divorced; one daughter. Career: Lecturer in English, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 1964–65; instructor in English, Sir George Williams University, Montreal, 1967–68; teacher of creative writing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, 1969–70; assistant professor of English, York University, Toronto, 1971–72. Writer-in-residence, University of Toronto, 1972–73, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, 1985, Macquarie University, North Ryde, New South Wales, 1987, and Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, 1989; Berg Visiting Professor of English, New York University, 1986. Editor and member of the board of directors, House of Anansi Press, Toronto, 1971–73. Awards: E.J. Pratt Medal, 1961; President's Medal, University of Western Ontario, 1965; Governor-General's award, 1966, 1986; Centennial Commission prize, 1967; Union League Civic and Arts Foundation prize, 1969, and Bess Hokin prize, 1974 (Poetry, Chicago); City of Toronto award, 1976; St. Lawrence award, 1978; Radcliffe Medal, 1980; Molson award, 1981; Guggenheim fellowship, 1981; Welsh Arts Council International Writers prize, 1982; Ida Nudel Humanitarian award, 1986; Los Angeles Times Book award, 1986; Arthur C. Clarke Science-Fiction award, for novel, 1987; Commonwealth Writer's prize (regional), 1987, 1994, 1995; Humanist of the Year award, 1987; City of Toronto Book award, 1989; Canadian Bookseller's Association Author of the Year award, 1988; Centennial Medal, Harvard University, 1990; Trillium award, 1992, 1994; Canadian Authors Association Novel of the Year award, 1993; Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 1994; Norwegian Order of Literary Merit, 1996; the Giller prize, 1996, and Premio Mondello, 1997, for Alias Grace; Canadian Booksellers Association author of the year, 1996; National Arts Club medal of honor for literature, 1997. D.Litt.: Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, 1973; Concordia University, Montreal, 1980; Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, 1982; University of Toronto, 1983; Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, 1985; University of Waterloo, Ontario, 1985; University of Guelph, Ontario, 1985; Victoria College, 1987. L.L.D.: Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, 1974; University of Leeds, Ontario, 1994. Companion, Order of Canada, 1981. Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 1987. Member: American Academy of Arts and Sciences (honorary member), 1988. Agent: Phoebe Larmore, 228 Main Street, Venice, California 90291, U.S.A. Address: c/o McClelland & Stewart, 481 University Avenue, #900, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2E9, Canada.

Publications

Poetry

Double Persephone. Toronto, Hawkshead Press, 1961.

The Circle Game (single poem). Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Cranbrook Academy of Art, 1964.

Talismans for Children. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Cranbrook Academy of Art, 1965.

Kaleidoscopes: Baroque. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Cranbrook Academy of Art, 1965.

Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Cranbrook Academy of Art, 1966.

The Circle Game (collection). Toronto, Contact Press, 1966.

Expeditions. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Cranbrook Academy of Art, 1966.

The Animals in That County. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1968; Boston, Little Brown, 1969.

Five Modern Canadian Poets, with others, edited by Eli Mandel. Toronto, Holt Rinehart, 1970.

The Journals of Susanna Moodie. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1970.

Oratorio for Sasquatch, Man and Two Androids: Poems for Voices. Toronto, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1970.

Procedures for Underground. Toronto, Oxford University Press, and Boston, Little Brown, 1970.

Power Politics. Toronto, Anansi, 1971; New York, Harper, 1973.

You Are Happy. Toronto, Oxford University Press, and New York, Harper, 1974.

Selected Poems. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1976; New York, Simon and Schuster, 1978.

Marsh, Hawk. Toronto, Dreadnaught, 1977.

Two-Headed Poems. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1978; New York, Simon and Schuster, 1981.

True Stories. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1981; New York, Simon and Schuster, and London, Cape, 1982.

Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written. Toronto, Salamander Press, 1981.

Snake Poems. Toronto, Salamander Press, 1983.

Interlunar. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1984; London, Cape, 1988.

Selected Poems II: Poems Selected and New, 1976–1986. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1986; Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1987.

Morning in the Burned House. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, and Borton, Houghton Mifflin, 1995.

Recordings: The Poetry and Voice of Margaret Atwood, Caedmon, 1977; Margaret Atwood Reads from A Handmaid's Tale, Caedmon.

Plays

Radio Play: The Trumpets of Summer, 1964.

Television Plays: The Servant Girl, 1974; Snowbird, 1981; Heaven on Earth, with Peter Pearson, 1986.

Novels

The Edible Woman. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, and London, Deutsch, 1969; Boston, Little Brown, 1970.

Surfacing. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1972; London, Deutsch, and New York, Simon and Schuster, 1973.

Lady Oracle. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, New York, Simon and Schuster, and London, Deutsch, 1976.

Life before Man. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1979; New York, Simon and Schuster, and London, Cape, 1980.

Bodily Harm. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, New York, Simon and Schuster, and London, Cape, 1981.

The Handmaids's Tale. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, Boston, Houghton Mifflin, and London, Cape, 1985.

Cat's Eye. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1988; New York, Doubleday, and London, Bloomsbury, 1989.

The Robber Bride. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, and New York, Doubleday, 1993.

Alias Grace. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, London, Bloomsbury, and New York, Doubleday, 1996.

Short Stories

Dancing Girls and Other Stories. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, and New York, Simon and Schuster, 1977; London, Cape, 1979.

Encounters with the Element Man. Concord, New Hampshire, Ewert, 1982.

Murder in the Dark: Short Fictions and Prose Poems. Toronto, Coach House Press, 1983; London, Cape, 1984.

Bluebeard's Egg and Other Stories. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1983; Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1985; London, Cape, 1987.

Unearthing Suite. Toronto, Grand Union Press, 1983.

Wilderness Tips. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1991; New York, Doubleday, 1991.

Good Bones. Toronto, Coach House, 1992; New York, Doubleday, 1994.

Other

Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. Toronto, Anansi, 1972.

Days of the Rebels 1815–1840. Toronto, Natural Science of Canada, 1977.

Up in the Tree (for children). Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1978.

Anna's Pet (for children), with Joyce Barkhouse. Toronto, Lorimer, 1980.

Second Words: Selected Critical Prose. Toronto, Anansi, 1982; Boston, Beacon Press, 1984.

Margaret Atwood: Conversations, edited by E. Ingersoll. Princeton, New Jersey, Ontario Review Press, 1990.

Editor, The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English. Toronto, New York, and Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1982.

Editor, with Robert Weaver, The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English. Toronto, Oxford, and New York, Oxford University Press, 1986.

Editor, The Canlit Food Book. Toronto, Totem, 1987.

Editor, with Shannon Ravenel, The Best American Short Stories 1989. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1989.

*

Bibliography: "Margaret Atwood: An Annotated Bibliography (Prose)" and "(Verse)" by Alan J. Horne, in The Annotated Bibliography of Canada's Major Authors 1–2 edited by Robert Lecker and Jack David, Downsview, Ontario, ECW Press, 2 vols., 1979–80.

Manuscript Collection: Fisher Library, University of Toronto.

Critical Studies: Margaret Atwood: A Symposium edited by Linda Sandler, Victoria, British Columbia, University of Victoria, 1977; A Violent Duality by Sherrill Grace, Montreal, Véhicule Press, 1979, and Margaret Atwood: Language, Text, and System edited by Grace and Lorraine Weir, Vancouver, University of British Columbia Press, 1983; The Art of Margaret Atwood: Essays in Criticism edited by Arnold E. and Cathy N. Davidson, Toronto, Anansi, 1981; Margaret Atwood by Jerome H. Rosenberg, Boston, Twayne, 1984; Margaret Atwood: A Feminist Poetics by Frank Davey, Vancouver, Talonbooks, 1984; Margaret Atwood by Barbara Hill Rigney, London, Macmillan, 1987; Critical Essays on Margaret Atwood edited by Judith McCombs, Boston, Hall, 1988; Margaret Atwood: Vision and Forms edited by Kathryn van Spanckeren and Jan Garden Castro, Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, 1988; "You Are What You Eat: The Politics of Eating in the Novels of Margaret Atwood" by Emma Parker, in Twentieth Century Literature, 41(3), 1995; "Trace of a Woman: Narrative Voice and Decentered Power in the Fiction of Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, and Louise Erdrich" by Katherine A. Nelson-Born, in Literature, Interpretation, Theory, 7(1), 1996; "Margaret Atwood: Writing and Subjectivity" by Alice Palumbo and Colin Nicholson, in Signs, 21(3), 1996; "A Rhetoric of Indeterminacy: The Poetry of Margaret Atwood and Robert Bly" by R.A. Kizuk, in English Studies in Canada, 23(2), 1997; "Coming-of-Age with Atwood," in Maclean's, 111(36), 7 September 1998; "Histones and Historical Fictions—Margaret Atwood and the Edges of History" by Jonathan D. Spence, in American Historical Review, 103(5), 1998.

Margaret Atwood comments:

I feel that the task of criticizing my poetry is best left to others (i.e., critics) and would much rather have it take place after I am dead. If at all.

*  *  *

In "This Is a Photograph of Me," the opening poem of Margaret Atwood's The Circle Game, the speaker proffers the reader a grainy snapshot. After momentary confusion the photo resolves itself into a recognizable scene:

   as you scan
   it, you see in the left-hand corner
   a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
   (balsam or spruce) emerging
   and, to the right, halfway up
   what ought to be a gentle
   slope, a small frame house.

The picture is banal enough, a familiar evocation of middle-class security, a haven of domesticity nestled in a benevolent nature. Little in the photo, however, is what it initially seems. A sudden parenthesis informs us that the speaker lies drowned, Ophelia-like, in the lake:

   I am in the lake, in the center
   of the picture, just under the surface.
 
 
   It is difficult to say where
   precisely, or to say
   how large or small I am:
   the effect of water
   on light is a distortion
   but if you look long enough
   eventually
   you will be able to see me.

With a single twist the poem foregrounds our received, perhaps unconscious, habits of reading the world, insisting that a close effort of attention will reveal the idyllic image of home and hearth as a smothering trap for its female victim.

The poem, with its short, free verse lines, its precise, austere diction, and its glancing allusion to myth, is stylistically typical of Atwood's work. But in its insistence on critically examining the images that structure our understanding of the world, it also voices a theme present, in one way or another, in all of her poetry. Like other female poets who came of age in the 1960s, and like other Canadian writers who have long been aware of the political and cultural domination of their country by outside forces, Atwood is extraordinarily sensitive to the ways in which power relations between humanity and nature, between men and women, and between nations shape the modes of representation, the methods of reading and writing, through which we make sense of our lives. Her poetry insists on looking closely enough to identify the marginalized, the hidden, the other, that which has been suppressed or passed over by our inherited maps and legends. Such recognition compels a search for new modes of representation, new ways of writing, that aim to give voice to that which has been silenced. Atwood's poetry thus seeks to move from the old languages of dominance, mastery, and victimization to a new language of tolerance, understanding, and illumination.

This overarching project has played itself out in various registers during the course of Atwood's career. In her early poems, dating from the late 1960s, it often takes the form of a confrontation with the Canadian wilderness, a landscape at once bleak and alien, even hostile, and yet eliciting a strong feeling of identification in the poet. The challenge, broached in many of Atwood's early poems, is to map one's surroundings, find one's place in the world, without denying the otherness and sovereignty of nature, without imposing a false, anthropomorphic pattern on a nonhuman wilderness. It is a difficult project at best, and the characteristically bleak tone of the early poems often proceeds from the failure of Atwood's protagonists to avoid a disastrous ecological imperialism:

   He dug the soil in rows,
   imposed himself with shovels
   He asserted
   into the furrows, I
   am not random.
 
 
   The ground
   replied with aphorisms:
 
 
   a tree-sprout
   weed, words
   he couldn't understand.

The hapless settler described in these lines from "Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer" fails to come to terms with the "ordered absence" that is nature and finds himself overwhelmed by "the green vision, / the unnamed / whale" of the wilderness.

In poems published in the early 1970s Atwood shifted her focus to relations between men and women, relations that, as the title of her book-length cycle Power Politics implies, she perceives as equally fraught with the potential for domination and exploitation. The cycle acidly chronicles a stultifying love affair to reveal the pain that lies just behind the traditional tropes of romantic love: "you fit into me / like a hook into an eye / / a fish hook / an open eye." But Atwood is less concerned with documenting male aggression than with delineating the oscillating cycle of victimization practiced by both partners in a relationship dominated by competition, selfishness, and fear and with finding, if possible, some space beyond the old oppressive structures of gender relations in which love might separate itself from power. Such a utopian space seems unimaginable in the world depicted by Power Politics, with its couple dissolved, exhausted by each other. But a happier alternative is at least glimpsed in Atwood's next collection, You Are Happy, whose final poem rewrites the archetypal image of the sacrificial victim as a vulnerable but trusting lover, unafraid of honest emotional exchange:

          On the floor your body curves
   like that: the ancient pose, neck slackened, arms
   thrown above the head, vital
   throat and belly lying
   undefended. light slides over you,
   this is not an altar, they are not
   acting or watching
 
 
   You are intact, you turn
   towards me, your eyes opening, the eyes
   intricate and easily bruised, you open
 
 
   yourself to me gently, what
   they tried, we
   tried but could never do
   before. without blood, the killed
   heart. to take
   that risk, to offer life and remain
 
 
   alive, open yourself like this and become whole

You Are Happy can be seen to mark a turning point in Atwood's poetry in other ways as well. Its brilliant cycle "Circe/Mud Poems," a feminist recasting of the Circe myth, provides the model for later politically charged reinterpretations of such figures as Orpheus and Eurydice, Giselle, and the Robber Bridegroom. The book's "Songs of the Transformed," a series narrated by creatures half-human and half-animal, inaugurates a slightly less guarded view of the natural world and opens the way for the reverent, almost mystical encounters with nature appearing in Interlunar (1984).

Yet if Atwood has managed to attain a guarded confidence, a tentative transcendence in her love and nature poetry, her optimism remains tempered by a keen awareness of the strife and oppression that saturate the modern world. Since Two-Headed Poems (1978), Atwood's poetry has increasingly addressed political issues on a national and international level. The title sequence of this volume explores the possibility of a common language that could provide dialogue between English-and French-speaking Canada but concludes, despairingly, that "this is not a debate / but a duet / with two deaf singers." Atwood's involvement with Amnesty International has produced a searing sequence of poems, most notably "Notes towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written," which graphically addresses the continuing practice of torture and political violence. As the title of this poem suggests, these works display a strong continuity with Atwood's earlier efforts in that they question the possibility of accurately representing the reality of torture, especially when one writes in the language of a first world observer who is, if only indirectly, implicated in the violence:

   In this country you can say what you like
   because no one will listen to you anyway,
   it's safe enough, in this country you can try to write
   the poem that can never be written,
   the poem that invents
   nothing and excuses nothing,
   because you invent and excuse yourself each day.

As demonstrated in Power Politics, Atwood's are among the sharpest eyes of those critiquing late twentieth-century romance. Her contemporary, technically precise, imagistic, and accessible voice suits the terms of middle-aged love and its concerns, which she addresses in her later work. Through the use of goddess myths, history, archeology, dreams, and family stories—the same subjects she has focused on before—she addresses the political consciousness of a sexually liberated generation. One might be reminded of Katherine Hepburn when the speaker in Atwood's "Manet's Olympia" (in her collection Morning in the Burned House) states, "She reclines, more or less. / Try that posture, it's hardly languor," or when Helen of Troy conjectures, "There sure a lot of dangerous birds around." The fables and magic that Atwood treasures form the core of her sometimes slightly cynical and lighthearted approaches to crises, which sometimes feel as if they need charms or a spell to break: "You make a cut in yourself, / a little opening / for the pain to get in. / You set loose three drops of your blood." Pervasively nostalgic, the poems of Morning in the Burned House are obsessed, sometimes nervously, about the passage of time and how loss configures and reconfigures endlessly within time's flow. The book's title poem resonantly considers the fractured nature of loss and memory:

   In the burned house I am eating breakfast. You understand: there is no house,
   there is no breakfast, yet here I am.
   The spoon which was melted scrapes against the bowl which was melted also. No
   one else is around.
 
 
   Where have they gone to, brother and sister, mother and father? Off along the
   shore, perhaps…
 
 
   I can't see my own arms and legs or know if this is a trap or a blessing,
   finding myself back here, where everything
 
 
   in this house has long been over, kettle and mirror, spoon and bowl, including
   my own body,
 
 
   including the body I had then, including the body I have now as I sit at this
   morning table, alone and happy,
 
 
   bare child's feet on the scorched floorboards (I can almost see) in my burning
   clothes, the thin green shorts
 
   and grubby yellow T-shirt holding my cindery, nonexistent, radiant flesh.
   Incandescent.

Even as she acknowledges the limitations of her language, Atwood refuses the option of silence, grimly offering witness to horrors that her words can at best suggest. It is a consistently double consciousness of the limits of language and the necessity of speech that has given all of Atwood's work, no matter what her subject, its complex blend of caution, commitment, irony, and passionate depth. It is her unflinching perception of both the impossibility and necessity of writing that has made Atwood one of our most candid and inspiring poets.

—Anthony G. Stocks and

Martha Sutro

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Atwood, Margaret (Eleanor)

ATWOOD, Margaret (Eleanor)

Nationality: Canadian. Born: Ottawa, Ontario, 18 November 1939. Education: Victoria College, University of Toronto, 1957-61, B.A. 1961. Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, A.M. 1962. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1962-63, 1965-67. Family: Divorced; one daughter. Career: Lecturer in English, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 1964-65; instructor in English, Sir George Williams University Montreal, 1967-68; teacher of creative writing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, 1969-70; assistant professor of English, York University, Toronto, 1971-72; editor and member of board of directors, House of Anansi Press, Toronto, 1971-73; writer-in-residence, University of Toronto, 1972-73, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, 1985, Macquarie University, North Ryde, New South Wales, 1987, and Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, 1989; Berg Visiting Professor of English, New York University, 1986. President, Writers Union of Canada, 1981-82, and PEN Canadian Centre, 1984-86. Awards: E. J. Pratt medal, 1961; President's medal, University of Western Ontario, 1965; Governor-General's award, 1966, 1986; Centennial Commission prize, 1967; Union League Civic and Arts Foundation prize, 1969, and Bess Hokin prize, 1974 (Poetry, Chicago); City of Toronto award, 1976, 1989; The Canadian Bookseller's Association award, 1977; Periodical Distributors of Canada Short Fiction, 1977; St. Lawrence award, 1978; Radcliffe medal, 1980; Molson award, 1981; Guggenheim fellowship, 1981; Companion of the Order of Canada, 1981; Welsh Arts Council International Writers prize, 1982; Periodical Distributors of Canada Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters of the Year award, 1983; Ida Nudel Humanitarian award, 1986; Toronto Arts award, 1986; Governor General's award, for The Handmaid's Tale, 1986; Los Angeles Times Book award, 1986; Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year, 1986; Arthur C. Clarke Science-Fiction award, for novel, 1987; Commonwealth Literary Prize, Regional winner, 1987; Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Silver Medal, Best Article of the Year, 1987; Humanist of the Year award, 1987; Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 1987; YWCA Women of Distinction award, 1988; National Magazine award, for journalism, 1988; American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Foreign Honourary Member, Literature, 1988; Cat's Eye, Torgi Talking Book, 1989; Cat's Eye, City of Toronto Book award, 1989; Cat's Eye, Coles Book of the Year, 1989; Canadian Booksellers Association Author Of the Year, 1989; Order of Ontario, 1990; Harvard University Centennial medal, 1990; Trillium Award for Excellence in Ontario writing, for Wilderness Tips, 1992; 1992 John Hughes prize, from Welsh Development Board; Book of the Year award from the Periodical Marketers of Canada, for Wilderness Tips; Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation; Canadian Author's Association Novel of the Year, for The Robber Bride, 1993; Trillium Award for Excellence in Ontario Writing, for The Robber Bride, 1994; Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Canadian and Caribbean Region, 1994; Government of France's Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 1994; Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, for The Robber Bride, 1994; Swedish Houmour Associations' International Humorous Writer award, 1995; Trillium Award for Excellence in Ontario Writing, for Morning in the Burned House, 1995; Norwegian Order of Literary Merit, 1996; Giller Prize, for Alias Grace, 1996; Canadian Booksellers Association Author of the Year, 1996; National Arts Club 1997 Medal of Honor for Literature; Premio Mondello, for Alias Grace, 1997. Honorary degrees: Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, 1973; Concordia University, Montreal, 1980; Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, 1982; University of Toronto, 1983; Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, 1985; University of Waterloo, Ontario, 1985; University of Guelph, Ontario, 1985; Victoria College, 1987; Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, 1974. Companion, Order of Canada, 1981. Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 1987; Université de Montréal, 1991; University of Leeds, 1994; McMaster University, 1996. Member: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1988 (honorary member).

Publications

Short Stories

Dancing Girls and Other Stories. 1977.

Encounters with the Element Man. 1982.

Murder in the Dark: Short Fictions and Prose Poems. 1983.

Bluebeard's Egg and Other Stories. 1983.

Unearthing Suite. 1983.

Wilderness Tips. 1991.

Good Bones. 1992.

Novels

The Edible Woman. 1969.

Surfacing. 1972.

Lady Oracle. 1976.

Life Before Man. 1979.

Bodily Harm. 1981.

The Handmaid's Tale. 1985.

Cat's Eye. 1988.

The Robber Bride. 1993.

Alias Grace. 1996.

Plays

Radio Play:

The Trumpets of Summer, 1964.

Television Plays:

The Servant Girl, 1974; Snowbird, 1981; Heaven on Earth, with Peter Pearson, 1986.

Poetry

Double Persephone. 1961.

The Circle Game (single poem). 1964.

Talismans for Children. 1965.

Kaleidoscopes: Baroque. 1965.

Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein. 1966.

The Circle Game (collection). 1966.

The Animals in That County. 1968.

The Journals of Susanna Moodie. 1970.

Oratorio for Sasquatch, Man and Two Androids: Poems for

Voices. 1970.

Procedures for Underground. 1970.

Power Politics. 1971.

You Are Happy. 1974.

Selected Poems. 1976.

Marsh, Hawk. 1977.

Two-Headed Poems. 1978.

True Stories. 1981.

Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written. 1981.

Snake Poems. 1983.

Interlunar. 1984.

Selected Poems 2: Poems Selected and New 1976-1986. 1986.

Selected Poems 1966-1984. 1990.

Poems 1965-1975. 1991.

Other

Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. 1972.

Days of the Rebels 1815-1840. 1977.

Up in the Tree (for children). 1978.

Anna's Pet (for children), with Joyce Barkhouse. 1980.

Second Words: Selected Critical Prose. 1982.

Atwood: Conversations, edited by Earl G. Ingersoll. 1990.

For the Birds (for children). 1990.

Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (for children). 1995.

Strange Things: Malevolent North in Canadian Literature. 1995.

Editor, The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English. 1982.

Editor, with Robert Weaver, The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English. 1986.

Editor, The Canlit Food Book: From Pen to Palate: A Collection of Tasty Literary Fare. 1987.

Editor, with Shannon Ravenel, The Best American Short Stories. 1989.

Editor, Barbed Lyres. 1990.

*

Bibliography:

"Atwood: An Annotated Bibliography" (prose and poetry) by Alan J. Horne, in The Annotated Bibliography of Canada's Major Authors 1-2 edited by Robert Lecker and Jack David, 2 vols., 1979-80.

Critical Studies:

Atwood: A Symposium edited by Linda Sandler, 1977; A Violent Duality by Sherrill E. Grace, 1979, and Atwood: Language, Text, and System edited by Grace and Lorraine Weir, 1983; The Art of Atwood: Essays in Criticism edited by Arnold E. Davidson and Cathy N. Davidson, 1981; Atwood by Jerome H. Rosenberg, 1984; Atwood: A Feminist Poetics by Frank Davey, 1984; Forbidden Fruit: On the Relationship Between Women and Knowledge in Doris Lessing, Slema Lagerlöf, Kate Chopin, and Atwood by Bonnie St. Andrews, 1986; Atwood by Barbara Hill Rigney, 1987; Atwood: Reflection and Reality by Beatrice Mendez-Egle, 1987; Critical Essays on Atwood edited by Judith McCombs, 1988; Atwood: Vision and Forms edited by Kathryn van Spanckeren and Jan Garden Castro, 1988; Collecting Clues: Margaret Atwood's Bodsily Harm by Lorna Irvine, 1993; Margaret Atwood's Fairy-Tale Sexual Politics by Sharon Rose Wilson, 1993; Strategies for Identity: The Fiction of Margaret Atwood by Eleonora Rao, 1994; Various Atwoods: Essays on the Later Poems, Short Fiction, and Novels by Lorraine M. York, 1995; Margaret Atwood's Novels: A Study of Narrative Discourse by Hilda Staels, 1995; Re/Membering Selves: Alienation and Survival in the Novels of Margaret Atwood and Margaret Laurence by Coomi S. Vevaina, 1996; In Search of the Split Subject: Psychoanalysis, Phenomenology, and the Novels of Margaret Atwood by Sonia Mycak, 1996.

* * *

Margaret Atwood is one of the best Canadian writers in her generation and certainly the most versatile of all. As a critic in books like Survival and Second Words, she has developed a thematically based critique—particularly of Canadian fiction—that presents the victor-victim theme as a frequent though not universal motif; it has been convincing so far as her own fiction is concerned, though less so in relation to Canadian novels and stories as a whole. Atwood is also one of the three or four best poets practicing in Canada, and her sharp ear as a poet is related to her sharp eye as a critic, which in turn is related to the combination of playful wit, Jungian demonology, and penetrative psychological insight that characterizes her fiction.

Atwood's seven novels have been widely discussed, but the differences as well as the relations between her short and her major fiction are considerable; in the short stories her vision tends to sharpen rather than narrow as she turns away from the moral-historical preoccupations of her novels towards the special, intimate, often isolated behavior of individuals. It is as if she were turning her eyes away from a telescope to a microscope and following for a while a kind of intimate enquiry like those pursued by her entomologist father, but with the behavior of humans rather than that of moths and beetles as subject. The kind of eye with which she looks, as well as the clear prose she uses, tends to link Atwood, in so far as an artist can be linked with a scientist, with the classic naturalist writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. If there is anything that Atwood's short stories have in common, it is that they isolate for observation adolescents as they enter the "mature" world, or adults entering alien settings, or people limited both emotionally and mentally who have not yet made any terms with the world.

Atwood was writing stories quite early in her career, but only in 1977 did she publish her first collection, Dancing Girls and Other Stories, shortly after her third novel, Lady Oracle. It was followed in 1983 by Bluebeard's Egg and Other Stories and in 1991 by Wilderness Tips, though these larger collections have been interspersed by small collections published by small presses, like Encounters with the Element Man, Murder in the Dark: Short Fiction and Prose Poems, Hurricane Hazel and Other Stories, and Good Bones, described as "short parables, prose poems, monologues."

Atwood's short fiction ranges in its preoccupations—and its mood—from the deathly to the trivial, for Atwood has the unusual ability to be chilling at one moment and jokingly playful the next so that one is not always sure whether that skull has just been dug out of a graveyard or manufactured by a Halloween mask-maker. The main common element is the enviable skill with which the writer works. Her short stories can be seen as the small (not always lesser) products of an imagination and an observation incessantly at work. (Her friends always open her new books fearing yet hoping to be somehow there.) The stories are, despite their assurance of touch, tentative in effect, even less likely to answer our questions fully than her novels. Yet there is a typical Atwood relentlessness about them, and we are meant to keep on questioning what is happening in this world between rationality and madness that we precariously inhabit when we read them.

The tourist, most often a woman alienated from her habitual past, is a character in many of these stories, and in other stories the trembling fear of being at the heart of the unfamiliar and the threatening is extended, as it is in Atwood's novels. In a 1980 essay on Atwood, published in Essays on Canadian Writing, Russell Brown elaborately compares one of her stories, "The Resplendent Quetzal," with her slightly later novel Life before Man and finds similar patterns of alienation. He says, and in doing so gives an important insight into Atwood's shorter fiction, "Throughout Dancing Girls, boarding houses, rented rooms, and hotels are almost the only accommodations mentioned, and all exude a sense of residents who 'never lived here'; nowhere is there stability; nowhere does a genuine 'home' exist."

One could of course apply this insight to all of Atwood's fiction. Nowhere does a real home exist. The terrible patriarchal collectivity of The Handmaid's Tale is the opposite of home, and it is surely significant that the more one can significantly link the central character of an Atwood story or a novel with its author, the more one is involved in a fluid family situation that is not based on a settled home but on a wandering existence depending on seasonal imperatives: an unsettling existence but one rich in data about human existence since awareness flourishes in instability. And so we find in Atwood's stories sharp observations on existence that resemble the occasional papers that in a scientist's career can vary her major theoretical pieces with the trivia by which her interest and her urge are sustained.

—George Woodcock

See the essays on "The Salt Garden" and "Wilderness Tips."

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Atwood, Margaret 1939–

Atwood, Margaret 1939–

(Margaret Eleanor Atwood)

PERSONAL: Born November 18, 1939, in Ottawa Ontario, Canada; daughter of Carl Edmund (an entomologist) and Margaret Dorothy (Killam) Atwood; married Graeme Gibson (a writer); children: Jess (daughter). Education: University of Toronto, B.A., 1961; Radcliffe College, A.M., 1962; Harvard University, graduate study, 1962–63 and 1965–67. Politics: "William Morrisite." Religion: "Immanent Transcendentalist."

ADDRESSES: Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Agent—c/o Random House, 1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019.

CAREER: Writer. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, lecturer in English literature, 1964–65; Sir George Williams University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, lecturer in English literature, 1967–68; York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, assistant professor of English literature, 1971–72; House of Anansi Press, Toronto, editor and member of board of directors, 1971–73; University of Toronto, writer-in-residence, 1972–73; University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, writer-in-residence, 1985; New York University, New York, NY, Berg Visiting Professor of English, 1986; Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia, writer-in-residence, 1987. Worked variously as a camp counselor and waitress.

MEMBER: PEN International, Amnesty International, Writers' Union of Canada (vice chair, 1980–81), Royal Society of Canada (fellow), Canadian Civil Liberties Association (member of board, 1973–75), Canadian Centre, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (honorary member), Anglophone (president, 1984–85).

AWARDS, HONORS: E.J. Pratt Medal, 1961, for Double Persephone; President's Medal, University of Western Ontario, 1965; YWCA Women of Distinction Award, 1966 and 1988; Governor General's Award, 1966, for The Circle Game, and 1986, for The Handmaid's Tale; first prize in Canadian Centennial Com-mission Poetry Competition, 1967; Union Prize for poetry, 1969; Bess Hoskins Prize for poetry, 1969 and 1974; City of Toronto Book Award, Canadian Booksellers' Association Award, and Periodical Distributors of Canada Short Fiction Award, all 1977, all for Dancing Girls and Other Stories; St. Lawrence Award for fiction, 1978; Radcliffe Medal, 1980; Life before Man selected a notable book of 1980, American Library Association; Molson Award, 1981; Guggenheim fellowship, 1981; named Companion of the Order of Canada, 1981; International Writer's Prize, Welsh Arts Council, 1982; Book of the Year Award, Periodical Distributors of Canada/Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters, 1983, for Bluebeard's Egg and Other Stories; Ida Nudel Humanitarian Award, 1986; named Woman of the Year, Ms. magazine, 1986; Toronto Arts Award for writing and editing, 1986; Los Angeles Times Book Award, 1986, and Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction, and Commonwealth Literature Prize, both 1987, all for The Handmaid's Tale; Canadian Council for the Advancement and Support of Education silver medal, 1987; Humanist of the Year award, 1987; Royal Society of Canada fellow, 1987; named Chatelaine magazine's Woman of the Year; City of Toronto Book Award, Coles Book of the Year Award, Canadian Booksellers' Association Author of the Year Award, Book of the Year Award, Foundation for Advancement of Canadian Letters citation, Periodical Marketers of Canada Award, and Torgi Talking Book Award, all 1989, all for Cat's Eye; Harvard University Centennial Medal, 1990; Order of Ontario, 1990; Trillium Award for Excellence in Ontario Writing, and Periodical Marketers of Canada Book of the Year Award, both 1992, both for Wilderness Tips and Other Stories; Commemorative Medal for 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation; Trillium Award, Canadian Authors' Association Novel of the Year Award, Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Canadian and Caribbean Region, and Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, all 1994, and Swedish Humour Association's International Humourous Writer Award, 1995, all for The Robber Bride; Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France), 1994; named best local author, NOW magazine readers' poll, 1995 and 1996; Trillium Award, 1995, for Morning in the Burned House; Norwegian Order of Literary Merit, 1996; Booker Prize shortlist, and Giller Prize, both 1996, both for Alias Grace; International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award shortlist, Dublin City Library, 1998; Booker Prize, 2000, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nomination, and Dashiell Hammett Prize, International Association of Crime Writers (North American branch), 2001, all for The Blind Assassin; Booker prize shortlist and Governor General's literary award nominee, both 2003, both for Oryx and Crake; Enlightenment Award, Edinburgh International Book Festival, 2005; recipient of numerous honorary degrees, including Trent University, 1973, Concordia University, 1980, Smith College, 1982, University of Toronto, 1983, Mount Holyoke College, 1985, University of Waterloo, 1985, University of Guelph, 1985, Victoria College, 1987, University of Montreal, 1991, University of Leeds, 1994, Queen's University, 1974, Oxford University, 1998, and Cambridge University, 2001; Enlightenment Award, Edinburgh International Book Festival, 2005.

WRITINGS:

POETRY

Double Persephone, Hawkshead Press (Ontario, Canada), 1961.

The Circle Game, Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI), 1964, revised edition, House of Anansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1978.

Kaleidoscopes Baroque: A Poem, Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI), 1965.

Talismans for Children, Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI), 1965.

Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein, Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI), 1966.

The Animals in That Country, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1968.

The Journals of Susanna Moodie, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1970.

Procedures for Underground, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1970.

Power Politics, House of Anansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1971, Harper (New York, NY), 1973.

You Are Happy, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1974.

Selected Poems, 1965–1975, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1976, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1978.

Marsh Hawk, Dreadnaught Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1977.

Two-headed Poems, Oxford University Press, 1978, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1981.

Notes Toward a Poem That Can Never Be Written, Salamander Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981.

True Stories, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1982.

Snake Poems, Salamander Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983.

Interlunar, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1984.

Selected Poems II: Poems Selected and New, 1976–1986, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1986.

Morning in the Burned House, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Eating Fire: Selected Poetry, 1965–1995, Virago Press (London, England), 1998.

Also author of Expeditions, 1966, and What Was in the Garden, 1969.

NOVELS

The Edible Woman, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1969, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1970, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Surfacing, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1972, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1973, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Lady Oracle, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1976, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Life before Man, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1979, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Bodily Harm, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1982, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Encounters with the Element Man, William B. Ewert (Concord, NH), 1982.

Unearthing Suite, Grand Union Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983.

The Handmaid's Tale, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1985, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1986, reprinted, Chelsea House Publishers (Philadelphia, PA), 2001.

Cat's Eye, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1988, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1989.

The Robber Bride, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1993.

Alias Grace, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1996.

The Blind Assassin, Random House (New York, NY), 2000.

Oryx and Crake, Nan A. Talese (New York, NY), 2003.

The Tent, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday (New York, NY), 2006.

STORY COLLECTIONS

Dancing Girls and Other Stories, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1977, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1982, reprinted, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Bluebeard's Egg and Other Stories, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983, Anchor Doubleday (New York, NY), 1998.

Murder in the Dark: Short Fictions and Prose Poems, Coach House Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983.

Wilderness Tips and Other Stories, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1991.

Good Bones, Coach House Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992, published as Good Bones and Simple Murders, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1994.

A Quiet Game: And Other Early Works, edited and annotated by Kathy Chung and Sherrill Grace, Juvenilia Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1997.

The Tent, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2006.

OTHER

The Trumpets of Summer (radio play), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC- Radio), 1964.

Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, House of Anansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1972.

The Servant Girl (teleplay), CBC-TV, 1974.

Days of the Rebels, 1815–1840, Natural Science Library, 1976.

The Poetry and Voice of Margaret Atwood (recording), Caedmon (New York, NY), 1977.

Up in the Tree (juvenile), McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1978.

(Author of introduction) Catherine M. Young, To See Our World, GLC Publishers, 1979, Morrow (New York, NY), 1980.

(With Joyce Barkhouse) Anna's Pet (juvenile), James Lorimer, 1980.

Snowbird (teleplay), CBC-TV, 1981.

Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, House of An-ansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1982, 2000.

(Editor) The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1982.

(Editor, with Robert Weaver) The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1986.

(With Peter Pearson) Heaven on Earth (teleplay), CBC-TV, 1986.

(Editor) The Canlit Foodbook, Totem Books (New York, NY), 1987.

(Editor, with Shannon Ravenal) The Best American Short Stories, 1989, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1989.

For the Birds, illustrated by John Bianchi, Firefly Books (Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada), 1991.

(Editor, with Barry Callaghan; and author of introduction) The Poetry of Gwendolyn MacEwen, Exile Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), Volume 1: The Early Years, 1993, Volume 2: The Later Years, 1994.

Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (juvenile), illustrated by Maryann Kovalski, Workman (New York, NY), 1995.

Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (lectures), Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

Some Things about Flying, Women's Press (London, England), 1997.

(With Victor-Levy Beaulieu) Two Solicitudes: Conversations (interviews), translated by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

(Author of introduction) Women Writers at Work: The "Paris Review" Interviews, edited by George Plimpton, Random House (New York, NY), 1998.

Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing (lectures), Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (juvenile), illustrated by Dusan Petricic, Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

(With others) Story of a Nation: Defining Moments in Our History, Doubleday Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

(Author of introduction) Chisitan Bok, editor, Ground Works: Avant-Garde for Thee, House of Anansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

Moving Targets: Writing with Intent, House of Anansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda (juvenile), illustrated by Dusan Petricic, Key Porter Kids (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

(With others) New Beginnings: Sold in Aid of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Earthquake Charities, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2005.

Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose, 1983–2005, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2005.

The Penelopiad (part of the Knopf "Myth Series"), Knopf (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.

Curious Pursuits: Occasional Writing, 1970–2005, Virago (London, England), 2005.

Contributor to anthologies, including Five Modern Canadian Poets, 1970, The Canadian Imagination: Dimensions of a Literary Culture, Harvard University Press, 1977, and Women on Women, 1978. Contributor to periodicals, including Atlantic, Poetry, New Yorker, Harper's, New York Times Book Review, Saturday Night, Tamarack Review, and Canadian Forum.

ADAPTATIONS: Reflections: Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer, a six-minute visual interpretation of Atwood's poem by the same name, was produced by Cinematics Canada, 1972 and by Universal as Poem as Imagery: Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer, 1974. The Journals of Susanna Moodie was adapted as a screenplay, Tranby, 1972; Surfacing was adapted for film, Pan-Canadian, 1979; The Handmaid's Tale was filmed by Cinecom Entertainment Group, 1989, and was adapted as an opera by Danish composer Poul Ruders, for the Royal Danish Opera Company. The Atwood Stories, adaptations of Atwood's fiction, appeared as six half-hour episodes on W Network. Alias Grace was being adapted for film by Working Title Films. Union Pictures planned to produce a four-part miniseries based on The Blind Assassin. Many of Atwoods books are available as sound Recordings, including The Tent, Doubleday, 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: As a poet, novelist, story writer, and essayist, Margaret Atwood holds a unique position in contemporary Canadian literature. Her books have received critical acclaim in the United States, Europe, and her native Canada, and she has been the recipient of numerous literary awards. Atwood's critical popularity is matched by her popularity with readers. She is a frequent guest on Canadian television and radio and her books are often bestsellers.

Atwood first came to public attention as a poet in the 1960s with her collections Double Persephone, winner of the E.J. Pratt Medal, and The Circle Game, winner of a Governor General's award. These two books marked out the terrain her subsequent poetry has explored. Double Persephone concerns "the contrast between the flux of life or nature and the fixity of man's artificial creations," as explained by a Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor. The Circle Game takes this opposition further, setting such human constructs as games, literature, and love against the instability of nature. Human constructs are presented as both traps and shelters; the fluidity of nature as both dangerous and liberating. Sherrill Grace, writing in Violent Duality: A Study of Margaret Atwood, identified the central tension in all of Atwood's work as "the pull towards art on one hand and towards life on the other." This tension is expressed in a series of "violent dualities," as Grace termed it. Atwood "is constantly aware of opposites—self/other, subject/ object, male/female, nature/man—and of the need to accept and work within them," Grace explained. "To create, Atwood chooses violent dualities, and her art re-works, probes, and dramatizes the ability to see double."

Linda W. Wagner, writing in The Art of Margaret At-wood: Essays in Criticism, asserted that in Atwood's poetry "duality [is] presented as separation." This separation leads her characters to be isolated from one another and from the natural world, resulting in their inability to communicate, to break free of exploitative social relationships, or to understand their place in the natural order. "In her early poetry," Gloria Onley wrote in the West Coast Review, Atwood "is acutely aware of the problem of alienation, the need for real human communication and the establishment of genuine human community—real as opposed to mechanical or manipulative; genuine as opposed to the counterfeit community of the body politic."

Wagner, commenting on the The Circle Game, noted that "the personae of those poems never did make contact, never did anything but lament the human condition." Wagner added, "Relationships in these poems are sterile if not destructive." In a review of True Stories Robert Sward of Quill and Quire explained that many reviewers of the book have exaggerated the violence and given "the false impression that all thirty-eight poems … are about torture."

Suffering is common for the female characters in At-wood's poems, although they are never passive victims. In her later works, her characters take active measures to improve their situations. Atwood's poems, West Coast Review contributor Onley maintained, concern "modern woman's anguish at finding herself isolated and exploited (although also exploiting) by the imposition of a sex role power structure." Atwood explained to Judy Klemesrud in the New York Times that her suffering characters come from real life: "My women suffer because most of the women I talk to seem to have suffered." Although she became a favorite of feminists, At-wood's popularity in the feminist community was unsought. "I began as a profoundly apolitical writer," she told Lindsy Van Gelder of Ms., "but then I began to do what all novelists and some poets do: I began to describe the world around me."

Atwood's 1995 book of poetry, Morning in the Burned House, "reflects a period in Atwood's life when time seems to be running out," observed John Bemrose in Maclean's. Noting that many of the poems address grief and loss, particularly in relationship to her father's death and a realization of her own mortality, Bemrose added that the book "moves even more deeply into survival territory." Bemrose further suggested that in this book, Atwood allows the readers greater latitude in interpretation than in her earlier verse: "Atwood uses grief … to break away from that airless poetry and into a new freedom."

Atwood's feminist concerns also emerge clearly in her novels, particularly in The Edible Woman, Surfacing, Life before Man, Bodily Harm, and The Handmaid's Tale. These novels feature female characters who are, as Klemesrud reported, "intelligent, self-absorbed modern women searching for identity…. [They] hunt, split logs, make campfires and become successful in their careers, while men often cook and take care of their households."

The Edible Woman tells the story of Marian McAlpin, a young woman engaged to be married, who rebels against her upcoming nuptials. Her fiancé seems too stable, too ordinary, and the role of wife too fixed and limiting. Her rejection of marriage is accompanied by her body's rejection of food; she cannot tolerate even a spare vegetarian diet. Eventually Marian bakes a sponge cake in the shape of a woman and feeds it to her fiancé because, she explains, "You've been trying to assimilate me." After the engagement is broken off, she is able to eat some of the cake herself.

Reaction to The Edible Woman was divided. Nevertheless, many critics noted Atwood's at least partial success. Tom Marshall, writing in his Harsh and Lovely Land: The Major Canadian Poets and the Making of a Canadian Tradition, called The Edible Woman "a largely successful comic novel, even if the mechanics are sometimes a little clumsy, the satirical accounts of consumerism a little drawn out." A Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor described The Edible Woman as "very much a social novel about the possibilities for personal female identity in a capitalistic consumer society."

In Life before Man Atwood dissects the relationships between three characters: Elizabeth, a married woman who mourns the recent suicide of her lover; Elizabeth's husband, Nate, who is unable to choose between his wife and his lover; and Lesje, Nate's lover, who works with Elizabeth at a museum of natural history. All three characters are isolated from one another and unable to experience their own emotions. The fossils and dinosaur bones on display at the museum are compared throughout the novel with the sterility of the characters' lives. As Laurie Stone noted in the Village Voice, Life before Man "is full of variations on the theme of extinction."

Life before Man is what Rosellen Brown of Saturday Review called an "anatomy of melancholy." Comparing the novel's characters to museum pieces and commenting on the analytical examination to which Atwood subjects them, Peter S. Prescott wrote in Newsweek that, "with chilly compassion and an even colder wit, At-wood exposes the interior lives of her specimens." Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Marilyn French made clear that in Life before Man, Atwood "combines several talents—powerful introspection, honesty, satire and a taut, limpid style—to create a splendid, fully integrated work." The novel's title, French believed, relates to the characters' isolation from themselves, their history, and from one another. They have not yet achieved truly human stature. "This novel suggests," French wrote, "that we are still living life before man, before the human—as we like to define it—has evolved." Prescott raised the same point. The novel's characters, he wrote, "do not communicate; each, in the presence of another, is locked into his own thoughts and feelings. Is such isolation and indeterminacy what Atwood means when she calls her story 'Life before Man'?" This concern is also found in Atwood's previous novels, French argued, all of which depict "the search for identity … a search for a better way to be—for a way of life that both satisfies the passionate, needy self and yet is decent, humane and natural."

Atwood further explores this idea in Bodily Harm. In this novel, Rennie Wilford is a Toronto journalist who specializes in light, trivial pieces for magazines. She is, Anne Tyler explained in the Detroit News, "a cataloguer of current fads and fancies." Following a partial mastectomy, which causes her lover to abandon her, Rennie begins to feel dissatisfied with her life. She takes on an assignment to the Caribbean island of St. Antoine in an effort to get away from things for a while. Her planned magazine story, focusing on the island's beaches, tennis courts, and restaurants, is distinctly facile in comparison to the political violence she finds on St. Antoine. When Rennie is arrested and jailed, the experience brings her to a self-realization about her life. "Death," Nancy Ramsey remarked in the San Francisco Review of Books, "rather than the modern sense of ennui, threatens Rennie and the people around her, and ultimately gives her life a meaning she hadn't known before."

Anatole Broyard in the New York Times, claimed that "the only way to describe my response to [Bodily Harm] is to say that it knocked me out. Atwood seems to be able to do just about everything: people, places, problems, a perfect ear, an exactly right voice and she tosses off terrific scenes with a casualness that leaves you utterly unprepared for the way these scenes seize you." Tyler called Atwood "an uncommonly skillful and perceptive writer," and went on to state that, because of its subject matter, Bodily Harm "is not always easy to read. There are times when it's downright unpleasant, but it's also intelligent, provocative, and in the end—against all expectations—uplifting."

In The Handmaid's Tale Atwood turns to speculative fiction, creating the dystopia of Gilead, a future America in which fundamentalist Christians have killed the president and members of Congress and imposed their own dictatorial rule. In this future world, polluted by toxic chemicals and nuclear radiation, few women can bear children; the birthrate has dropped alarmingly. Those women who can bear children are forced to become Handmaids, the official breeders for society. All other women have been reduced to chattel under a repressive religious hierarchy run by men.

The Handmaid's Tale is a radical departure from At-wood's previous novels. Her strong feminism was evident in earlier books, but The Handmaid's Tale is dominated by the theme. As Barbara Holliday wrote in the Detroit Free Press, Atwood "has been concerned in her fiction with the painful psychic warfare between men and women. In The Handmaid's Tale … she casts subtlety aside, exposing woman's primal fear of being used and helpless." Atwood's creation of an imaginary world is also new. As Mary Battiata noted in the Washington Post, The Handmaid's Tale is the first of Atwood's novels "not set in a worried corner of contemporary Canada."

Atwood was moved to write her story only after images and scenes from the book had been appearing to her for three years. She eventually became convinced that her vision of Gilead was not far from reality. Some of the anti-female measures she had imagined for the novel actually exist. "A law in Canada," Battiata reported, "[requires] a woman to have her husband's permission before obtaining an abortion." Atwood, speaking to Battiata, pointed to repressive laws in the totalitarian state of Romania as well: "No abortion, no birth control, and compulsory pregnancy testing, once a month." The Handmaid's Tale does not depend upon hypothetical scenarios, omens, or straws in the wind, but upon documented occurrences and public pronouncements; all matters of record." Stephen McCabe of the Humanist called the novel "a chilling vision of the future extrapolated from the present."

Yet, several critics voiced a disbelief in the basic assumptions of The Handmaid's Tale. Mary McCarthy, in her review for the New York Times Book Review, complained that "I just can't see the intolerance of the far right … as leading to a super-biblical puritanism." And although acknowledging that "the author has carefully drawn her projections from current trends," McCarthy asserted that "perhaps that is the trouble: the projections are too neatly penciled in. The details … all raise their hands announcing themselves present. At the same time, the Republic of Gilead itself, whatever in it that is not a projection, is insufficiently imagined." Richard Grenier of Insight observed that the Fundamentalist-run Gilead does not seem Christian: "There seems to be no Father, no Son, no Holy Ghost, no apparent belief in redemption, resurrection, eternal life. No one in this excruciatingly hierarchized new clerical state … appears to believe in God." Grenier also found it improbable that "while the United States has hurtled off into this morbid, feminist nightmare, the rest of the democratic world has been blissfully unaffected."

Despite what he saw as a flaw, French saw The Handmaid's Tale as being "in the honorable tradition of Brave New World and other warnings of dystopia. It's imaginative, even audacious, and conveys a chilling sense of fear and menace." Prescott compared the novel to other dystopian books. It belongs, he wrote, "to that breed of visionary fiction in which a metaphor is extended to elaborate a warning." Prescott went on to note, "Wells, Huxley and Orwell popularized the tradition with books like The Time Machine, Brave New World and 1984—yet Atwood is a better novelist than they." Christopher Lehmann-Haupt identified The Handmaid's Tale as a book that goes far beyond its feminist concerns. Writing in the New York Times, the critic explained that the novel "is a political tract deploring nuclear energy, environmental waste, and anti-feminist attitudes. But it [is] so much more than that—a taut thriller, a psychological study, a play on words." Van Gelder saw the novel in a similar light: "[It] ultimately succeeds on multiple levels: as a page-turning thriller, as a powerful political statement, and as an exquisite piece of writing."

In The Robber Bride, Atwood again explores women's issues and feminist concerns, this time concentrating on women's relationships with each other—both positive and negative. Inspired by the Brothers Grimm's fairy tale "The Robber Bridegroom," the novel chronicles the relationships of college friends Tony, Charis, and Roz with their backstabbing classmate Zenia. Now middle-aged women, the women's paths and life choices have diverged, yet Tony, Charis, and Roz have remained friends. Throughout their adulthood, however, Zenia's manipulations have nearly destroyed their lives and cost them husbands and careers. Lorrie Moore, writing in the New York Times Book Review, called The Robber Bride "Atwood's funniest and most companionable book in years," adding that its author "retains her gift for observing, in poetry, the minutiae specific to the physical and emotional lives of her characters." About Zenia, Moore commented, "charming and gorgeous, Ze-nia is a misogynist's grotesque: relentlessly seductive, brutal, pathologically dishonest," postulating that "perhaps Ms. Atwood intended Zenia, by the end, to be a symbol of all that is inexplicably evil: war, disease, global catastrophe." Judith Timson commented in Maclean's that The Robber Bride "has as its central theme an idea that feminism was supposed to have shoved under the rug: there are female predators out there, and they will get your man if you are not careful."

Atwood maintained that she had a feminist motivation in creating Zenia. The femme fatale all but disappeared from fiction in the 1950s due to that decade's sanitized ideal of domesticity; and in the late 1960s came the women's movement, which in its early years encouraged the creation of only positive female characters, At-wood asserted in interviews. She commented that "there are a lot of women you have to say are feminists who are getting a big kick out of this book," according to interviewer Sarah Lyall in the New York Times. "People read the book with all the wars done by men, and they say, 'So, you're saying that women are crueler than men,'" the novelist added. "In other words, that's normal behavior by men, so we don't notice it. Similarly, we say that Zenia behaves badly, and therefore women are worse than men, but that ignores the helpfulness of the other three women to each other, which of course gives them a power of their own."

Francine Prose, reviewing The Robber Bride for the Washington Post Book World, recommended the book "to those well-intentioned misguided feminists or benighted sexists who would have us believe that the female of the species is 'naturally' nicer or more nurturing than the male." Prose found the book "smart and entertaining" but not always convincing in its blend of exaggerated and realistic elements. New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani also thought Atwood has not achieved the proper balance in this regard: "Her characters remain exiles from both the earthbound realm of realism and the airier attitudes of allegory, and as a result, their story does not illuminate or entertain: it grates."

Alias Grace represents Atwood's first venture into historical fiction, but the book has much in common with her other works in its contemplation of "the shifting notions of women's moral nature" and "the exercise of power between men and women," wrote Maclean's contributor Diane Turbide. Based on a true story Atwood had explored previously in a television script titled The Servant Girl, Alias Grace centers on Grace Marks, a servant who was found guilty of murdering her employer and his mistress in northern Canada in 1843. Some people doubt Grace's guilt, however, and she serves out her sentence of life in prison, claiming not to remember the murders. Eventually, reformers begin to agitate for clemency for Grace. In a quest for evidence to support their position, they assign a young doctor, versed in the new science of psychiatry, to evaluate her soundness of mind. Over many meetings, Grace tells the doctor the harrowing story of her life—a life marked by extreme hardship. Much about Grace, though, remains puzzling; she is haunted by flashbacks of the supposedly forgotten murders and by the presence of a friend who had died from a mishandled abortion. The doctor, Simon Jordan, does not know what to believe in Grace's tales.

Several reviewers found Grace a complicated and compelling character. "Sometimes she is prim, naive, sometimes sardonic; sometimes sardonic because observant; sometimes observant because naive," commented Hilary Mantel in the New York Review of Books. Turbide added that Grace is more than an intriguing character: she is also "the lens through which Victorian hypocrisies are mercilessly exposed."

Prose, however, writing in the New York Times Book Review, thought the historical trivia excessive. "The book provides, in snippets, a crash course in Victorian culture. Prose added, "Rather than enhancing the novel's verisimilitude, these mini-lessons underline the distance between reader and subject." She also noted that some readers "will admire the liveliness with which Ms. Atwood toys with both our expectations and the conventions of the Victorian thriller."

"Dying octogenarian Iris Chasen's narration of the past carefully unravels a haunting story of tragedy, corruption, and cruel manipulation," summarized Beth E. Andersen in a Library Journal review of Atwood's The Blind Assassin. The novel, which earned its author the Booker Prize, involves multiple story lines. It is Iris's memoir, retracing her past with the wealthy and conniving industrialist Richard Griffen and the death of her sister Laura, her husband, and her daughter. Iris "reveals at long last the wrenching truth about herself and Laura amid hilariously acerbic commentary on the inanities of contemporary life," wrote Donna Seaman in Booklist. Interspersed with these narrative threads are sections devoted to Laura's novel, The Blind Assassin, published after her death. Seaman called the work a "spellbinding novel of avarice, love, and revenge." Andersen noted that some readers may guess how the story will pan out before the conclusion, but argued that "nothing will dampen the pleasure of getting there." Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times called The Blind Assassin an "absorbing new novel" that "showcases Ms. Atwood's narrative powers and her ardent love of the Gothic." Kakutani also noted that Atwood writes with "uncommon authority and ease."

Atwood has remained a noted writer of short stories as well as novels. Wilderness Tips and Other Stories, published in 1991, is a collection of ten "neatly constructed, present-tense narratives," reported Merle Rubin in the Christian Science Monitor. While finding Atwood's writing style drab and unappealing, Rubin nevertheless praised the author for her "ability to evoke the passing of entire decades … all within the brief compass of a short story." The tales in Atwood's 1992 collection, Good Bones—published in 1994 as Good Bones and Simple Murders—"occupy that vague, peculiar country between poetry and prose," stated John Bemrose in Maclean's. Describing Atwood as "storyteller, poet, fabulist and social commentator rolled into one," Bemrose claimed that "the strongest pieces in Good Bones combine a light touch with a hypnotic seriousness of purpose." In the New York Times Book Review, Jennifer Howard labeled Good Bones and Simple Murders a "sprightly, whimsically feminist collection of miniatures and musings, assembled from two volumes published in Canada in 1983 and 1992." A Publishers Weekly reviewer, who characterized the entries as "postmodern fairy tales, caustic fables, inspired parodies, witty monologues," declared each piece to be "clever and sharply honed."

Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature is Atwood's most direct presentation of her strong support of Canadian nationalism. In this work, she discerns a uniquely Canadian literature, distinct from its American and British counterparts, and discusses the dominant themes to be found in it. Canadian literature, she argues, is primarily concerned with victims and with the victim's ability to survive. Atwood, Onley explained, "perceives a strong sado-masochistic patterning in Canadian literature as a whole. She believes that there is a national fictional tendency to participate, usually at some level as Victim, in a Victor/Victim basic pattern." Nevertheless, "despite its stress on victimization," a Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor wrote, "this study is not a revelation of, or a reveling in, [masochism]." What Atwood argues, Onley asserted, that is, "every country or culture has a single unifying and informing symbol at its core: for America, the Frontier; for England, the Island; for Canada, Survival."

Several critics find that Atwood's own work exemplifies this primary theme of Canadian literature. Her examination of destructive gender roles and her nationalistic concern over the subordinate role Canada plays to the United States are variations on the victor/victim theme. Atwood believes a writer must consciously work within his or her nation's literary tradition, and her own work closely parallels the themes she sees as common to the Canadian literary tradition. Survival "has served as the context in which critics have subsequently discussed [Atwood's] works," stated a Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor.

In her novel Oryx and Crake, Atwood returns to themes from The Handmaid's Tale. "Once again she conjures up a dystopia, where trends that started way back in the twentieth century have metastasized into deeply sinister phenomena," wrote Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times. The story begins with a character called Snowman, the lone survivor of an Armageddon-like catastrophe. He wanders the streets trying to survive and finds that bioengineered animals are the only living creatures remaining. As the novel progresses, Snowman recalls his days as a boy and his childhood friend named Crake. Eventually, we learn that Crake became a scientist, one who was involved in the secret project that caused the global catastrophe. Kakatuni called the novel "at times intriguing." Referring to Oryx and Crake as a "scorching new novel," Science contributor Susan M. Squier wrote, "Atwood imagines a drastic revision of the human species that will purge humankind of all of our negative traits." Squier went on to note that "in Oryx and Crake readers will find a powerful meditation on how education that separates scientific and aesthetic ways of knowing produces ignorance and a wounded world."

Atwood also writes for children, and while much of her writing for adults is known to be quite dark, her books for juveniles are far more whimsical. For example, Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes features a text of "alliterative 'R' sounds, making it a challenging read-aloud," noted Denise Parrott in Resource Links. The story, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, revolves around Rude Ramsay, a red-nosed rat named Ralph, and their new friend Rilla. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that "Atwood's prose is both amusing and enlightening in its use of rich vocabulary." Atwood and Petricic also worked together on Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, a takeoff on the Cinderella tale. "Atwood's hilarious tale will amuse listeners of almost any age with its alliteration and clever wordplay," wrote Patricia Morley in the Canadian Book Review Annual. Bill Richardson, writing in the Toronto Globe & Mail, concluded: "I think the virtue in this cascade of consonants is the joy that lives in the sound of the words, the merely phonetic exuberance that's at least as important, at a certain age, as meaning."

Atwood has also continued to write about writing. Her lectures Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing were published under the same title in 2002. She has also released several collections. These include the 2004 publication Moving targets: Writing with Intent, 1982–2004 and the 2005 collection Curious Pursuits: Occasional Writing, 1970–2005. Each collection is representative of Atwood's oeuvre. Although the author has been labeled a Canadian nationalist, a feminist, and even a gothic writer, it seems reasonable to say that, given the range and volume of her work, Atwood incorporates and transcends these categories.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Beran, Carol L., Living over the Abyss: Margaret Atwood's Life before Man, ECW Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993.

Bloom, Harold, editor, Margaret Atwood, Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 2000.

Bouson, J. Brooks, Brutal Choreographies: Oppositional Strategies and Narrative Design in the Novels of Margaret Atwood, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 1993.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 2, 1974, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 4, 1975, Volume 8, 1978, Volume 13, 1980, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 25, 1983, Volume 44, 1987.

Cooke, John, The Influence of Painting on Five Canadian Writers: Alice Munro, Hugh Hood, Timothy Findley, Margaret Atwood, and Michael Ondaatje, Edwin Mellen (Lewiston, NY), 1996.

Cooke, Nathalie, Margaret Atwood: A Biography, ECW Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

Davidson, Arnold E., Seeing in the Dark: Margaret At-wood's Cat's Eye, ECW Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

Davidson, Arnold E., and Cathy N. Davidson, editors, The Art of Margaret Atwood: Essays in Criticism, House of Anansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 53: Canadian Writers since 1960, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986.

Gibson, Graeme, Eleven Canadian Novelists, House of Anansi Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1973.

Grace, Sherrill, Violent Duality: A Study of Margaret Atwood, Véhicule Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1980.

Grace, Sherrill, and Lorraine Weir, editors, Margaret Atwood: Language, Text, and System, University of British Columbia Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1983.

Hengen, Shannon, Margaret Atwood's Power: Mirrors, Reflections, and Images in Select Fiction and Poetry, Second Story Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993.

Howells, Coral Ann, Margaret Atwood, St. Martin's Press (New York City), 1996.

Irvine, Lorna, Collecting Clues: Margaret Atwood's Bodily Harm, ECW Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993.

Lecker, Robert, and Jack David, editors, The Annotated Bibliography of Canada's Major Authors, ECW Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1980.

Marshall, Tom, Harsh and Lovely Land: The Major Canadian Poets and the Making of a Canadian Tradition, University of British Columbia Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1978.

McCombs, Judith, and Carole L. Palmer, Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, G.K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1991.

Michael, Magali Cornier, Feminism and the Postmodern Impulse: Post-World War II Fiction, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1996.

Nicholson, Colin, editor, Margaret Atwood: Writing and Subjectivity: New Critical Essays, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Nischik, Reingard M., editor, Margaret Atwood: Works and Impact, Camden House (Rochester, NY), 2000.

Rao, Eleanora, Strategies for Identity: The Fiction of Margaret Atwood, P. Lang (New York, NY), 1993.

Sandler, Linda, editor, Margaret Atwood: A Symposium, University of British Columbia (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1977.

Stein, Karen F., Margaret Atwood Revisited, Twayne (New York, NY), 1999.

Sullivan, Rosemary, The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out, HarperFlamingo Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

Thompson, Lee Briscoe, Scarlet Letters: Margaret At-wood's The Handmaid's Tale, ECW Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

Twigg, Alan, For Openers: Conversations with Twenty-four Canadian Writers, Harbour Publishing (Madeira Park, British Columbia, Canada), 1981.

Woodcock, George, The Canadian Novel in the Twentieth Century, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1975.

PERIODICALS

Book World, November 7, 2004, Elizabeth Ward, review of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, p. 12.

Booklist, June 1, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of The Blind Assassin, p. 1796; January 1, 2004, review of Oryx and Crake, p. 776; March 1, 2005, Donna Seaman, review of Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose, 1983–2005, p. 1130..

Bookseller, February 4, 2005, review of Curious Pursuits: Occasional Writing, 1970–2005, p. 36.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 2004, Patricia Morley, review of Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, p. 465.

Christian Science Monitor, December 27, 1991, Merle Rubin, review of Wilderness Tips and Other Stories, p. 14.

Contemporary Literature, winter, 2003, Susan Strehle, review of Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, pp. 737-42.

Detroit News, April 4, 1982, Anne Tyler, review of Bodily Harm.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), December 11, 2004, Bill Richardson, review of Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, p. D18; January 21, 2006, Aritha van Herk, review of The Tent, p. D4.

Humanist, September-October, 1986, Stephen McCabe, review of the Handmaid's Tale, p. 31.

Insight, March 24, 1986, Richard Grenier, review of The Handmaid's Tale.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, p. 802; October 1, 2005, review of The Tent, p. 1057.

Library Journal, August 9, 2000, Beth E. Andersen, review of The Blind Assassin; March 15, 2005, Nancy R. Ives, review of Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose, 1983–2005, p. 84.

London Review of Books, November 17, 2005, Thomas Jones, review of The Penelopiad, p. 23.

Maclean's, January 15, 1979, review of Two-Headed Poems, p. 50; October 15, 1979, review of Life Before Man, p. 66; March 30, 1981, Mark Able, review of True Stories, p. 52; September 16, 1991, John Bemrose, review of Wilderness Tips and Other Stories, p. 58; October 5, 1992, John Bemrose, review of Good Bones, p. S10; October 4, 1993, Judith Timson, review of The Robber Bride, p. 55; February 6, 1995, John Bemrose, review of Morning in the Burned House, p. 85; September 23, 1996, Diane Turbide, "Amazing Atwood," pp. 42-45; July 1, 1999, Margaret Atwood, "Survival, Then and Now," p. 54.

Ms., January, 1987, Lindsy Van Gelder, "Margaret At-wood," p. 48.

Newsweek, February 18, 1980, Peter S. Prescott, review of Life Before Man, p. 108; February 17, 1986, Peter S. Prescott, review of The Handmaid's Tale, p. 70.

New Yorker, September 18, 2000, John Updike, review of The Blind Assassin, p. 142.

New York Review of Books, December 19, 1996, Hilary Mantel, "Murder and Memory."

New York Times, March 6, 1982, Anatole Broyard, review of Bodily Harm, pp. 13(N), 21(LC); March 28, 1982, Judy Klemesrud, "Canada'a 'High Preistess of Angst,'" p. 21; September 15, 1982; January 27, 1986, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of The Handmaid's Tale, p. C24; February 17, 1986; November 5, 1986; October 26, 1993, Michiko Kakutani, review of The Robber Bride, p. C20; November 23, 1993, Sarah Lyall, " An Author Who Lets Women Be Bad Guys," pp. C13, C16; September 3, 2000, Thomas Mallon, review of The Blind Assassin; September 8, 2000, Michiko Kaku-tani, review of The Blind Assassin; May 13, 2003, Michiko Kakutani, review of Oryx and Crake, p. E9.

New York Times Book Review, February 3, 1980, Marilyn French, review of Life Before Man, p. 1; February 9, 1986, Mary McCarthy, review of The Handmaid's Tale, p. 1; October 31, 1993, Lorrie Moore, review of The Robber Bride, pp. 1, 22; December 11, 1994, Jennifer Howard, review of Good Bones and Simple Murders, p. 22; December 29, 1996, Francine Prose, review of Alias Grace, p. 6; December 7, 2003, review of Oryx and Crake, p. 69.

O, the Oprah Magazine, November, 2005, Vince Pas-saro, review of The Penelopiad, p. 184.

Publishers Weekly, July 24, 2000, review of The Blind Assassin, p. 67; July 24, 2000, "PW Talks to Margaret Atwood," p. 68; August 23, 2004, review of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, p. 54.

Quill and Quire, April, 1981, Robert Sward, review of True Stories; September, 1984.

Resource Links, December 2003, Denise Parrott, review of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, p. 1; April, 2005, Adriane Pettit, review of Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, p. 1.

San Francisco Review of Books, summer, 1982, Nancy Ramsey, review of Bodily Harm, p. 21.

Saturday Night, July-August, 1998, Rosemary Sullivan, "The Writer-Bride," p. 56.

Saturday Review, February 2, 1980, Rosellen Brown, review of Life Before Man, p. 33.

School Library Journal, November, 2004, Caroline Ward, review of Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, p. 90.

Science, November 14, 2003, Susan M. Squier, review of Oryx and Crake, p. 1154.

Studies in the Novel, spring, 2004, Earl G. Ingersoll, review of Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, p. 126.

Village Voice, January 7, 1980, Laurie Stone, review of Life Before Man.

Washington Post, April 6, 1986, Mary Battiata, review of The Handmaid's Tale.

Washington Post Book World, November 7, 1993, Francine Prose, review of The Robber Bride, p. 1.

West Coast Review, January, 1973, Gloria Onley, "Margaret Atwood: Surfacing in the Interests of Survival."

ONLINE

Atwood Society Web site, http://www.mscd.edu/∼atwoodso/ (March 9, 2006).

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