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Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing
     

Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing

by Margaret Atwood
 

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An ambitious inquiry into the art of writing, here is an unprecedented insider’s view of the writer’s universe, from the beloved author of The Handmaid’s Tale.

What do we mean when we say that someone is a writer? Is he or she an entertainer? An improver of readers’ minds and morals? And who, for that matter, are these

Overview

An ambitious inquiry into the art of writing, here is an unprecedented insider’s view of the writer’s universe, from the beloved author of The Handmaid’s Tale.

What do we mean when we say that someone is a writer? Is he or she an entertainer? An improver of readers’ minds and morals? And who, for that matter, are these mysterious readers? In this wise and irresistibly quotable book, one of the most intelligent writers working in English addresses the riddle of her art: why people pursue it, how they view their calling, and what bargains they make with their audience, both real and imagined. To these fascinating issues Booker Prize-winner Margaret Atwood brings a candid appraisal of her own experience as well as a breadth of reading that encompasses everything from Dante to Elmore Leonard.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A delight. . . . Frank and spirited. . . . A clear-eyed glance into the shadows where writers work and live.” —The Washington Post Book World

“An engaging book—erudite yet informal, playfully witty yet down to earth.” —Los Angeles Times

“Smart, deeply humane, courageous. . . . I have never come across a single book that more elegantly goes to the heart of the craft and its demands. . . . Hooray for Atwood!” —Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun

“This amazing woman’s voice, this fine writer’s constant example, is extraordinary.” —The Boston Globe

“A delight. . . . Frank and spirited. . . . A clear-eyed glance into the shadows where writers work and live.” –The Washington Post Book World

“An engaging book–erudite yet informal, playfully witty yet down to earth.” –Los Angeles Times

“Smart, deeply humane, courageous. . . . I have never come across a single book that more elegantly goes to the heart of the craft and its demands. . . . Hooray for Atwood!” –Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun

“This amazing woman’s voice, this fine writer’s constant example, is extraordinary.” –The Boston Globe

“A refreshing change from other books on writing.” –Columbus Dispatch

“[Negotiating with the Dead] is what every reader wants, a learned distillation of world lit and myth as viewed by that endangered species, a working writer; 219 pages, each guaranteed entertaining, to say nothing of edifying.” –The Miami Herald

“Atwood is the leading Canadian author and one of the most eminent women writing in English. Neither category meant as much before she inhabited it. . . . [She] plunges into matters that have beguiled readers and writers since Gilgamesh engraved his story on a stone.” –The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

bn.com
In the spring of 2000, novelist and poet Margaret Atwood delivered the Empson Lectures at Cambridge University. Now, Cambridge University Press has gathered Atwood’s six memorable lectures into a delectable book. In Negotiating with the Dead, the Canadian-born author moves brightly between personal stories, literary judgments, and a sage inquiry into the role of the writer. Long a master and advocate of mischief, Atwood explains how the crafty disruption of prose transforms us all. Her insights make every reader a co-conspirator.
Library Journal
This book grew out of the series of Empsom lectures that prize-winning novelist Atwood gave at the University of Cambridge in 2000. In it, she addresses a number of fundamental questions: not how to write but the basic position of the writer, why a writer writes, "and for whom? And what is this writing anyway?" Wearing her learning lightly, Atwood allows her wit to shine on almost every page. She probes her life and work along with those of many other writers and brings in myths, fairy tales, movies whatever feeds her themes. Following an initial autobiographical chapter, Atwood addresses major issues: the duplicity evidently inherent in writing; the problems of art vs. money; the problems of art vs. social relevance; the nature of the triangular relationship of writer, reader, and book; and, in the final title chapter, the provocative idea that "all writing of the narrative kind, and perhaps all writing, is motivated, deep down, by a fear of and a fascination with mortality by a desire to make the risky trip to the Underworld, and to bring something or someone back from the dead." Atwood is not looking to provide answers or solutions but to explore the parameters of some interesting questions. The result is engaging food for thought for all who care about writers and writing. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. Mary Paumier Jones, Westminster P.L., CO Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400032600
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/09/2003
Series:
Empson Lectures
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
293,952
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.51(d)

Read an Excerpt

Acclaimed author Margaret Atwood’s definitive look at the role of the writer.
What is the role of the writer? Prophet? High Priest of Art? Court Jester? Or witness to the real world? Looking back on her own childhood and the development of her writing career, Margaret Atwood examines the metaphors that writers of fiction and poetry have used to explain -- or excuse -- their activities, looking at what roles they have chosen to play.
Margaret Atwood’s wide and eclectic reference to other writers, living and dead, is balanced by personal anecdotes from her own experiences as a writer. The lightness of her touch is offset by a seriousness about the purpose and the pleasures of writing, and by a deep familiarity with the myths and traditions of western literature.

Author Biography: Throughout her thirty-five years of writing, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honorary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Her novel, The Blind Assassin, won the 2000 Booker Prize for Fiction. Her work has been published in more than thirty-five languages.

Meet the Author

Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 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; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the Flood; and her most recent, MaddAddam. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award, and lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson. 

www.margaretatwood.ca

Brief Biography

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

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