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“So, if you’re born in 1932, you’re born into the Depression.
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.
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.
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.
is about a woman whose engagement causes her to lose her identity, Atwood prefers not to call it a feminist book, because she was not part of a feminist community when she wrote it.“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.That combination — of the lurking, horrific possibility of totalitarianism and human evil, and the unforgiving brutality and necessity of the natural world — would go on to inform her work for the rest of her career, perhaps most pointedly in the trilogy, in which human brutality nearly destroys the world and nature rushes in to fill the void.Atwood began to attend school full time at age 8, an age that in most of her fiction is deeply traumatic.And many writers just seem more interested in exploring the self.” Atwood is a writer with the voice of a poet who has never been interested in the lyrical realist tradition so popular among literary novelists like Ian Mc Ewan or Jonathan Safran Foer, with their minutely observed unhappy families having unhappy sex.Instead, Atwood puts domestic characters into blown-up situations.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.Atwood knows exactly how terrifying it is when a person with power over you doesn't mind if you suffer, when they seem to in fact want you to suffer, and she examines every nuance of that terror without flinching away from it.And that makes her perfectly suited to be the voice of the world in 2017.