Margaret Atwood's Fairy-Tale Sexual Politics

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Overview

Margaret Atwood's Fairy-Tale Sexual Politics by Sharon Rose Wilson

Sharon Rose Wilson's analysis of Margaret Atwood's sexual politics through a study of fairy-tale patterns offers a new reading of Atwood and a fresh appreciation of the traditional fairy tale's ability to illuminate modern literature. Not only is this the first study to explore systematically Atwood's fiction and poetry through fairy-tale images, but also it occasions the first time Atwood has allowed examples of her artwork to be published in a book. In relating Atwood's fragile, mysterious paintings, collages, linocuts, drawings, and cartoons to her writing, this study shows how such fairy-tale images-along with myths, the Bible, history, film, art, and popular literature-reveal archetypes in her work. The engaging writing and the eerie visual art of Margaret Atwood braid together fairy-tale themes from Grimm and Andersen with the feminist concerns for which this internationally acclaimed Canadian author is well known. In The Handmaid's Tale, for example, she presents her version of Little Red Riding Hood facing patriarchy's wolf. In almost all her novels she explores the "Rapunzel Syndrome," in which women experience internalized isolation. In joining Atwood's literature and her artwork, Wilson challenges feminist assumptions that fairy tales limit gender roles. To the contrary, fairy-tale motifs in Atwood's works are a liberating force. Indeed, Wilson discloses how the genius of this fascinating writer perceives the fairy tale to be a means of transforming the constricting images that tradition has placed upon sexual identity.

Sharon Rose Wilson is a professor of English and women's studies at the University of Northern Colorado.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This critical study illustrates how Canadian author Atwood's work incorporates the use of fairy tales, especially those of Grimm and Andersen, to depict themes of sexual politics. Wilson English, Univ. of Northern Colorado offers a careful analysis of Atwood's fiction and poetry in relation to specific tales, e.g., The Edible Wom an to ``The Robber Bridegroom,'' The Handmaid's Tale to ``Little Red-Cap,'' and Cat's Eye to ``Rapunzel'' and ``Snow Queen.'' Fairy tales have been perceived by feminists as perpetuating negative female role models; however, Wilson illustrates Atwood's reworking of the traditional message to achieve a transformation that empowers women. Of additional interest are examples of Atwood's artwork, published here for the first time. This book adds a new dimension to critical studies of Atwood and to the appreciation of fairy tales. Recommended for women's studies and children's literature collections in academic libraries-- Mary Ellen Beck, Troy P.L., N.Y.
Booknews
An analysis of fairy-tale patterns offering insight into feminist author Atwood's fiction and poetry. Atwood's own artwork is published for the first time in book form. Wilson uses the many black and white drawings plus 21 color plates to illustrate how images from fairy tales and popular literature reveal archetypes in Atwood's writing. By combining Atwood's art and literature, Wilson shows that fairy-tale motifs liberate rather than limit gender roles. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878056392
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 1/1/1994
  • Pages: 430
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Sharon Rose Wilson is professor of English and women's studies at the University of Northern Colorado.
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Read an Excerpt

"Like Atwood's poetry and fiction, her watercolors and drawings present recurrent, archetypal images of power politics, in which women and men may not only oppose but also represent aspects of one another, playing roles evoking Gothic stories, myths, Biblical narratives, television, comic books, and nursery rhymes as well as fairy tales. Images of eating and food, prevalent in fairy tales and folklore, and even of edible and cooked or baked art also recur in both Atwood's literary and visual art..."

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Introduction
1 Intertextual Contexts and Purposes: Fairy Tales and the Medusa Artist 3
2 Sexual Politics in Atwood's Visual Art: "Fitcher's Bird" and the Triple Goddess 35
3 Cannibalism and Metamorphosis in The Edible Woman: "The Robber Bridegroom" 82
4 Decapitation, Cannibalism, and Rebirth in Surfacing: "The Juniper Tree" and French-Canadian Tales 97
5 Dancing for Others in Lady Oracle: The Triple Goddess and "The Red Shoes" 120
6 Frozen Touch in You Are Happy: The Rapunzel Syndrome and "The Girl Without Hands" 136
7 Regrowing Touch in Life Before Man: "The Girl Without Hands" and The Wizard of Oz 165
8 The Artist's Marriage to Death in Bodily Harm: "The Robber Bridegroom" and "The Girl Without Hands" 198
9 Bluebeard's Forbidden Room in Interlunar and "Bluebeard's Egg": "Fitcher's Bird," "The White Snake," and Other Tales 229
10 Off the Path to Grandma's House in The Handmaid's Tale: "Little Red Cap" 271
11 Cat's Eye Vision: "Rapunzel" and "The Snow Queen" 295
Appendix: Tale Types and Motifs 315
Notes 347
Works Cited 390
Index 411
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2006

    Fantastic

    If you are interested at all in Margaret Atwood, this is a great companion to her work. For a piece of critical work, it is extremely interesting and highly engaging. I've cited it in at least three separate papers. I am an avid Atwood reader and found this book to have interesting and cohesive interpretations of her work. Enjoy!

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