The Journals of Susanna Moodie: Poems / Edition 1

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Margaret Atwood's The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970), regarded by many as her most fully realized volume of poetry, is one of the great Canadian and feminist epics. In 1980, Margaret Atwood's longtime friend, the distinguished Canadian artist Charles Pachter, illustrated, designed, and published a handmade boxed portfolio edition of 120 copies of the poem with silkscreen prints, created as an act of homage to the poet. Atwood herself has said of Pachter's work, "His is a sophisticated art which draws upon many techniques and evokes many echoes." The poem and the prints inspire one another. This is the first facsimile edition of the original, as well as the first one-volume American edition of the poem, with an introduction by Charles Pachter and a foreword by David Staines.
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Editorial Reviews

Albert Mobilio
The autobiographies of a famous Canadian pioneer woman served as the inspiration for Margaret Atwood's newly reissued 1970 book of poems, The Journals of Susanna Moodie. As an English immigrant to the backwoods north of Toronto in the 1830s, Moodie struggled to accept the bleak and often deadly landscape of her new country. Her resistance and eventual acceptance embodies, according to Atwood, a distinctly Canadian "violent duality." In exploring the contradictory heart of her national identity, Atwood also came to see an inchoate feminism in Moodie's "thin refusal" to rejoice in the "long hills, the swamps, the barren sand."

In "The Wereman," Atwood's Moodie watches her husband stride off into the forest and she wonders "unheld by my sight/what does he change into." When he returns, "he may change me also/with the fox eye, the owl/eye, the eightfold eye of the spider/I can't think/what he will see/when he opens the door." The metaphor of marriage as a wilderness in which shapes shift and uncertainty reigns is both inspired and apt to Moodie's historical circumstance -- a time when near strangers often married.

By ventriloquizing the reluctant frontierswoman -- "I am a word/in a foreign language" -- Atwood fuses the interior and exterior landscapes (the personal and political) with a low-key yet vibratory elegance. This slip-cased reprint, with deliciously spooky illustrations by Charles Pachter, is a model of printed art -- the high-energy jostling of text and imagery creates a lush detonation that obliterates the slightly over-earnest scent that can cling to these poems in starker circumstance.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195401691
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1970
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 987,322
  • Product dimensions: 8.63 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret  Atwood
Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty works of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Among her many awards are the Los Angeles Times Book Award for The Handmaid's Tale in 1986, the Giller Prize in Canadafor Alias Grace in 1996, and the Booker Prize for The Blind Assassin in 2000. Her latest novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003, and Moral Disorder, a collection of short stories was published in 2006.

Charles Pachter, born in Toronto in 1942 and trained in Toronto, Paris, and Cranbrook, has particularly enjoyed producing suits of prints for Canadian poets.


When Margaret Atwood announced to her friends that she wanted to be a writer, she was only 16 years old. It was Canada. It was the 1950s. No one knew what to think. Nonetheless, Atwood began her writing career as a poet. Published In 1964 while she was still a student at Harvard, her second poetry anthology, The Circle Game, was awarded the Governor General's Award, one of Canada's most esteemed literary prizes. Since then, Atwood has gone on to publish many more volumes of poetry (as well as literary criticism, essays, and short stories), but it is her novels for which she is best known.

Atwood's first foray into fiction was 1966's The Edible Woman, an arresting story about a woman who stops eating because she feels her life is consuming her. Grabbing the attention of critics, who applauded its startlingly original premise, the novel explored feminist themes Atwood has revisited time and time again during her long, prolific literary career. She is famous for strong, compelling female protagonists -- from the breast cancer survivor in Bodily Harm to the rueful artist in Cat's Eye to the fatefully intertwined sisters in her Booker Prize-winning novel The Blind Asassin.

Perhaps Atwood's most legendary character is Offred, the tragic "breeder" in what is arguably her most famous book, 1985's The Handmaid's Tale. Part fable, part science fiction, and part dystopian nightmare, this novel presented a harrowing vision of women's lives in an oppressive futuristic society. The Washington Post compared it (favorably) to George Orwell's iconic 1984.

As if her status as a multi-award-winning, triple-threat writer (fiction, poetry, and essays) were not enough, Atwood has also produced several children's books, including Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (1995) and Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (2003) -- delicious alliterative delights that introduce a wealth of new vocabulary to young readers.

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    1. Hometown:
      Toronto, Ontario
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 18, 1939
    2. Place of Birth:
      Ottawa, Ontario
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Toronto, 1961; M.A. Radcliffe, 1962; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1967
    2. Website:

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