MARGARET ATWOOD


IN 1970 , known only in small, mostly Canadian circles for her poetry, published a book entitled The Journals of Susanna Moodie, a persona poem sequence written from the point of view of a legendary 19th-century Canadian pioneer who had encountered the notorious murderess Grace Marks on a visit to a lunatic asylum. Grace had been alternately institutionalized and imprisoned for the brutal murders of her employer Thomas Kinnear and his lover/housekeeper Nancy Montgomery, spared from the sentence of hanging her accomplice James McDermott because of a shadow of doubt about whether she was temptress or victim. Out of this rich documented history, Atwood, 26 years after publishing the book of ...

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pattern of quilting). The events leading up to the murders are revealed through narrative, letters, newspaper accounts, excerpts from Susanna Moodie's journal, notes by doctors and wardens and poems by Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Atwood maintains an ironic distance that manages simultaneously to reveal the character of Grace in her own words and to paint a broad picture of mid-19th century Canada as a nation experiencing the passionate explosions of science colliding with spiritualism. This is the age of scientific disciplines and unbridled mysticism--studies of the brain and drawing room table-rapping seances, electromagnetic therapies and mesmerism. This is a novel about gender and power and the upheaval of superstition in the face of what may or may not be provable theory.
Grace Marks provides the catalyst for the mysterious alchemy of these forces and becomes the focus of a nation, embodying the projections of the age-old paradox of woman as ...

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dark repository. Lost memories lie down there like sunken treasure, to be retrieved piecemeal, if at all; and amnesia itself may be, in effect, a sort of dreaming in reverse; a drowning of recollection, a plunging under."
The problem is, Dr. Jordan, a mama's boy with rather thin boundaries, is increasingly bewitched and bewildered, plunging into his own conflicting fantasies of Grace as the personification of feminine innocence or as calculating seductress.
The transference is complete when the dreams he wants Grace to remember so that he can record and analyze them become dreams from his own suggestible unconscious, and the sexual dominance he fantasizes coming from Grace he finds ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 3/14/2005 03:27:06 AM
Category: Biographies
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1256
Pages: 5

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