Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing: Strange Familiarity



If writing novels — and reading them — have any redeeming social value, it’s probably that they force you to imagine what it’s like to be somebody else. Which, increasingly, is something we all need to know.


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  1. 1.
    Margaret Atwood, ‘Writing the Male Character’, 1982; reprinted in Second Words: Selected Critical Prose (Toronto, 1982) pp. 412–30. This remark is quoted in Coral Ann Howells’s excellent study Private and Fictional Words: Canadian Women Novelists of the 1970s and 1980s (London: Methuen, 1987) p. 70.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Margaret Atwood, Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (Toronto: Anansi, 1972) pp. 15–16, 18–19.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Margaret Atwood, Surfacing (London: Virago, 1978). Future page references in this chapter are to this edition.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Northrop Frye, The Bush Garden: Essays on the Canadian Imagination (Toronto: Anansi, 1971) p. 126; quoted Djwa, ‘The Where of Here’, p. 18.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Alice Munro, Lives of Girls and Women (1971; Harmondsworth, Middx: Penguin Books, 1982) p. 249. For an extended exploration of this image see my article ‘“Living on the Surface”: Versions of Life in Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women’, Recherches anglaises et nord-americaines, no. xx (1987) pp. 117–26.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1994

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