Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (Clarendon Lectures in English Literature)

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9780198119760: Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (Clarendon Lectures in English Literature)
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The internationally celebrated author of more than twenty-five books of fiction, poetry, essays, and criticism, Margaret Atwood is one of Canada's most esteemed literary figures. She has won many literary awards, her work has been translated into twenty-two languages, her novel The Handmaid's Tale was adapted for the screen by Harold Pinter, and her most recent book, The Robber Bride, was on the New York Times bestseller list (in cloth and paper) for months. In Strange Things, Atwood turns to the literary imagination of her native land, as she explores the mystique of the Canadian North and its impact on the work of writers such as Robertson Davies, Alice Munroe, and Michael Ondaatje.
Here readers will delight in Atwood's stimulating discussion of stories and storytelling, myths and their recreations, fiction and fact, and the weirdness of nature. In particular, she looks at three legends of the Canadian North. She describes the mystery of the disastrous Franklin expedition in which 135 people disappeared into the uncharted North. She examines the "Grey Owl syndrome" of white writers who turn primitive. And she looks at the terrifying myth of the cannibalistic, ice-hearted Wendigo--the gruesome Canadia snow monster who can spot the ice in your own heart and turn you into a Wendigo. Atwood shows how these myths have fired the literary imagination of her native Canada and have deeply colored essential components of its literature. And in a moving, final chapter, she discusses how a new generation of Canadian women writers have adapted the imagery of the North to explore contemporary themes of gender, the family, and sexuality.
Written with the delightful style and narrative grace which will be immediately familiar to all of Atwood's fans, this superbly crafted and compelling portrait of the mysterious North is at once a fascinating insight into the Canadian imagination, and an exciting new work from an outstanding literary presence.

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About the Author:


About the Author:
Margaret Atwood is a noted novelist, poet, and nonfiction writer.

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Atwood returns to the matter of her wonderful "thematic guide to Canadian literature," Survival (1972), in lectures on three particular themes and the ways Canadian writers have treated them. Those themes are the devouring, implacable, direly feminine North as expressed in treatments of John Franklin's disastrous 1840s attempt to navigate a northwest passage to Asia; the impulse of whites to "go native" as exemplified by the naturalist Grey Owl, an Englishman who assumed the identity of a Canadian Indian; and the ice-hearted, human flesh^-eating Canadian Indian monster, the Wendigo. Atwood analyzes poems, songs, and stories on those themes, peppering her presentation with the keen and hilarious witticisms that distinguish her own poems and fiction. Moreover, when in the last lecture she takes up women writers' feminizing of the themes, she discloses strong satiric currents in their work that keep us richly entertained as well as fascinated and informed. If lecturers were all as good as Atwood, chautauqua might come roaring back in popularity. Ray Olson

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