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Understanding Margaret Atwood

Donna M. Bickford

Published: Aug 31 2023


Published: Aug 31 2023


Published: Aug 31 2023

OA Ebook
Published: Aug 31 2023


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

A timely, accessible introduction to Margaret Atwood's most recent novels and enduring themes

In 2017, the Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale introduced the acclaimed and bestselling Canadian author to a new generation and reminded Atwood's long-established readers of her uncanny prescience.

Understanding Margaret Atwood provides an overview of the author's life, descriptions and analyses of the key themes present in her most recent novels, signposts to the connections and intertextual references between them, and attention to their critical reception. Following a biographical overview, author Donna M. Bickford studies The Handmaid's Tale (1985) and its sequel The Testaments (2019), retellings of The Odyssey in The Penelopiad (2005) and The Tempest in Hag Seed (2016), the MaddAddam trilogy (2003, 2009, 2013), and The Heart Goes Last (2015). Written in clear language and a style appropriate both for scholars and for new students of Atwood, Bickford locates Atwood's recent works in the literary, political, and social context.

Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, essays, and poetry, which have collectively sold more than eight million copies worldwide; has received numerous awards and accolades, including multiple Booker Prizes and a PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award; and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Donna M. Bickford is the author of Understanding Marge Piercy and is Director emerita of the Women's and Gender Resource Center and adjunct professor emerita of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Dickinson College.

"This scholarly volume on Margaret Atwood's work constitutes a welcome addition and is an indispensable introduction to her latest fiction. It draws original association between the texts and the crucial themes in Atwood's typically nonlinear narrative such as storytelling as an art, power and its mechanisms, the evasiveness of truth, myth and its relevance in contemporary times, and gender and genres dynamics."—Eleanora Rao, Past President of The Margaret Atwood Society

"Understanding Margaret Atwood is a welcome addition to the thriving industry of Atwood's scholarship: It provides an enjoyable path through the complex labyrinth of Atwood's works, introducing the readership to Atwood's relevance as a global writer exploring some of the most relevant topics of our time such as power, the environment, and human rights."—Pilar Somacarrera, Professor of Canadian Literature, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain

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