Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose 1983-2005

Overview

From one of the world's most passionately engaged and acclaimed literary citizens comes Writing with Intent, the largest collection to date of Margaret Atwood's nonfiction, ranging from 1983 to 2005. Composed of autobiographical essays, cultural commentary, book reviews, and introductory pieces to great works of literature, this is the award-winning author's first book-length nonfiction publication in twenty years. Arranged chronologically, these writings display the development of Atwood's worldview as the world...

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2005 Hard cover New in New dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 427 p.

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Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose: 1983-2005

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Overview

From one of the world's most passionately engaged and acclaimed literary citizens comes Writing with Intent, the largest collection to date of Margaret Atwood's nonfiction, ranging from 1983 to 2005. Composed of autobiographical essays, cultural commentary, book reviews, and introductory pieces to great works of literature, this is the award-winning author's first book-length nonfiction publication in twenty years. Arranged chronologically, these writings display the development of Atwood's worldview as the world around her changes. Included are the Booker Prize–winning author's reviews of books by John Updike, Italo Calvino, Toni Morrison, and others, as well as essays in which she remembers herself reading Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse at age nineteen, and discusses the influence of George Orwell's 1984 on the writing of The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood's New York Times Book Review piece that helped make Orhan Pamuk's Snow a bestseller can be found here, as well as a look back on a family trip to Afghanistan just before the Soviet invasion, and her "Letter to America," written after September 11, 2001. The insightful and memorable pieces in this book serve as a testament to Atwood's career, reminding readers why she is one of the most esteemed writers of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“There’s so much alive and kicking [here] that most readers will find something in which to take delight.”—The Globe & Mail (Toronto)
Kirkus Reviews
Frothy, courtly occasional pieces from Booker-winning Atwood (The Blind Assassin, 2000, etc.). The Toronto-based novelist is a powerful booster of her fellow Canadian literati, whom Americans tend to lose in translation. Here, she showcases some of the reviews and comments published over the last two decades regarding important Canadian fiction-from Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God, Lucy M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, and Yann Martel's Life of Pi to the lifetime achievements of Mordecai Richler and Carol Shields. Atwood scrutinizes them all. Other pieces describe writing her dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid's Tale, while living in west Berlin and banging "on a rented typewriter with a German keyboard," and her fascination with the ill-fated 1845 Franklin Expedition, whose crew perished of lead poisoning while seeking the Northwest Passage to the Orient. (She made a "literary pilgrimage" to Beechy Island to revisit the expedition's remains.) The reviews are less interesting, since Atwood writes only about books that she likes and admits to being a "stroker" (who rewards good performance) rather than a "spanker" (who punishes bad performance). A few autobiographical essays evoke her more prickly feminist side and will arrest the attention of her devout readers: "That Certain Thing Called the Girlfriend" proclaims women to be at least as interested in other women as in men, and "Laughter vs. Death," sparked by research she did for Bodily Harm, offers her appalled reflections on the pornography industry. In a playful review of Robin Robertson's Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame, Atwood records her answer when a Mexican TV interviewer asked whether she considered herselffeminine: "What, at my age?" she blurted out. She also weighs in on Gabriel Garc'a Marquez, Antonia Fraser, Marina Warner, Angela Carter, H.G. Wells, and Ursula K. Le Guin. Atwood is always a gracious writer, stately and polished, though the public persona exemplified here is not nearly as fascinating as her darkly enigmatic literary side. For the die-hard fan.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786715350
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 2/28/2005
  • Pages: 427
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 1.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret  Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s books have been published in over thirty-five countries. She is the author of more than thirty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed 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. Her previous nonfiction book was Second Words, published in 1984. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibsion.

Biography

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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