The Female Body Essay Margaret Atwood

Moreover, she is not necessarily a part of the intellectual communities that grew up around feminism and science fiction, and she doesn’t want to set the expectation that she is.

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Her books are interested in power and dualities; in the impulses we repress until we have the power to explore them, and in the anxieties expressed by dystopias and the fantasies implicit to utopias.

They are highly symbolic, and they work as telescopes rather than microscopes, observing the social rather than the individual.

In part, that disconnect comes about because Atwood insists on defining her own terms.

She’s interested in women’s rights, and she’s interested in the possibilities of technology for the future, but those questions don’t necessarily fall within the bounds of feminism and science fiction as she defines them.

“There are so few books like that being published right now,” she said.

“The application of literary intelligence to this question of power — it’s kind of out of style.At the time, Atwood has said, female poets were expected to be mystical and mysterious and probably suicidal, like Sylvia Plath; interviewers asked her, she writes in the essay collection , “not whether I was going to commit suicide, but when.” It was an image entirely at odds with the way Atwood describes herself, which is as “a nice, cosy sort of person, a bit absent-minded, a dab hand at cookies, beloved by domestic animals, and a knitter of sweaters with arms that are too long.” (Having briefly met Atwood, based on first impressions I find it much easier to imagine her saying, “I eat men like air,” like Plath’s Lady Lazarus than to imagine her knitting sweaters, but on this she disagrees with me.) Atwood would expand on this disconnect in her third novel, 1976’s , in which the heroine is a nice, silly woman who accidentally hypnotizes herself into writing serious poetry when she is procrastinating at her day job of churning out pulpy costume dramas, and is promptly flummoxed by the ensuing publicity.The interviewers want to turn her into a feminist and pretend that she forces them to call her after she politely tells them she has no preference, and they treat her as a mystical goddess figure to the point that she begins to see her public persona as a separate self: “She was taller than I was, more beautiful, more threatening.She began to publish her poetry as an undergraduate at the University of Toronto: in college literary magazines, and eventually in collections (first self-published, later professionally published and award-winning).She would continue to work as a poet as she began her (uncompleted) graduate studies in literature at Harvard.And as she examines the way power accumulates and distributes itself, she conjures up the cramped and oppressive sensation of being powerless.Atwood's analysis of power — how it operates, how it accumulates, what it feels like to lack it and be at the mercy of someone with lots of it — feels especially trenchant in a time when so many Americans feel that those in power are exceptionally untrustworthy.She wanted to kill me and take my place, and by the time she did this no one would notice the difference because the media were in on the plot, they were helping her.” It’s a telling characterization from Atwood, who would have a vexed relationship with the press for the rest of her career — especially when it comes to the question of genre: how she sees it, and how her critics see it.Atwood’s readers often describe her as a writer of feminist science fiction, prompting Atwood herself to declare she is nothing of the sort, thereby offending both feminists and science fiction fans.Atwood believes the social context into which you are born informs your entire life.“One thing I do for my characters is I write down the year of their birth, and then I write the months down the side and the years across the top, and that means that I know exactly how old they are when larger things happen,” she told me at the beginning of June.


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