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The Journals of Susanna Moodie: Poems [Paperback]

Margaret Atwood

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Book Description

17 Sep 1970
This cycle of poems is perhaps the most memorable evocation in modern Canadian literature of the myth of the wilderness, the immigrant experience, and the alienating and schizophrenic effects of the colonial mentality. Since it was first published in 1970 it has not only acquired the stature of a classic but, reprinted many times, become the best-known extended work in Canadian poetry. Susanna Moodie (1805-85) emigrated from England in 1832 to Upper Canada, where she settled on a farm with her husband. She wrote several books in Canada, notably Roughing It in the Bush, a famous account of pioneering that is still widely read. In poems about the arrival and the Moodies' seven years in the bush, which were followed by a more civilized ilfe in Belleville, and about Mrs Moodie in old age and then after death - in the present, when she observes the twentieth century destroying her past and its meaning - Margaret Atwood has created haunting meditations on an English gentlewoman's confrontation with the wilderness, and compelling variations on the themes of dislocation and alienation, nature and civilization. The poems are supplemented by Margaret Atwood's collages and an 'Afterword' in which the poet says: 'We are all imigrants to this place even if we were born here....'

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More About the Author

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than thirty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays.

In addition to the classic The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize and Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, was published in 2009. She was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature in 2008.

Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto, Canada.

(Photo credit: George Whitside)

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Amazon Review

In 1832, a 29-year-old Englishwoman departed for Canada with her family. The product of a genteel upbringing, Susanna Moodie had already established somewhat of a reputation as a writer of essays, poetry and children's stories. None of this, however, prepared her for the rigours of pioneer life, which she chronicled in two volumes of autobiography and eventually came to cherish. Moodie died in 1885, and-- almost a century later--Margaret Atwood seized upon this quintessential pioneer as the subject for a verse epic. In The Journals of Susanna Moodie, Atwood uses Moodie's own words as raw material, reshaping and cutting them into a startling meditation on nature, alienation and our sense of place:
We left one by one
the cities rotting with cholera,
one by one our civilized
distinctions
and entered a large darkness.
It was our own
ignorance we entered.
Atwood's epic was first published in 1970 and reappeared in a 1980 limited edition featuring illustrations by Charles Pachter, and it is this version that Houghton Mifflin had the good sense to reprint. The result is an elegant artefact, a fitting tribute to an emblematic figure--a woman who Carol Shields has described as "a Crusoe baffled by her own heated imagination, the dislocated immigrant who never fully accepts or rejects her adopted country." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 30 books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. In addition to the classic The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, and The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize. Oryx and Crake was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003. Her other books for children include Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda and Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes. She lives in Toronto, Canada. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Is it my clothes, my way of walking, the things I carry in my hand -a book, a bag with knitting- the incongruous pink of my shawl this space cannot hear or is it my own lack of conviction which makes these vistas of desolation, long hills, the swamps, the barren sand, the glare of the sun on the bone-white driftlogs, omens of winter, the moon alien in daytime a thin refusal The others leap, shout Freedom! Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and informative poetry 13 Jan 2000
By Cara - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"The Journals of Susanna Moodie" poems are interesting and spare in style. I have not gone through the whole collection, but Margaret Atwood has written a thought-provoking account (through poems) of Susanna Moodie. Any serious or avid poem reader should consider this collection of related poems.
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