A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature

Book - 2012
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Perseus Publishing
When first published in 1972, Survival was considered the most startling book ever written about Canadian literature. Since then, it has continued to be read and taught, and it continues to shape the way Canadians look at themselves. Distinguished, provocative, and written in effervescent, compulsively readable prose, Survival is simultaneously a book of criticism, a manifesto, and a collection of personal and subversive remarks. Margaret Atwood begins by asking: "What have been the central preoccupations of our poetry and fiction?" Her answer is "survival and victims."

Atwood applies this thesis in twelve brilliant, witty, and impassioned chapters; from Moodie to MacLennan to Blais, from Pratt to Purdy to Gibson, she lights up familiar books in wholly new perspectives. This new edition features a foreword by the author.

Book News
In this accessible overview for students and general readers, celebrated Canadian novelist and poet Margaret Atwood surveys the Canadian literature scene as she saw it in 1972, when this book was first published. Thematic chapters deal with areas such as nature as monster, first people, ancestral totems, failed sacrifices, immigrants, the paralyzed artist, ice women versus earth mothers, and Quebec. Each chapter opens with numerous quotes from literature and also includes more quotes within the chapter. This reprint offers an introduction by Atwood, written in 2003. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Toronto : House of Anansi Press, 2012
Description: xxxviii, 288 p. ; 22 cm
ISBN: 9781770892521
Branch Call Number: 810.9 Atw
Additional Contributors: Atwood, Margaret, 1939- Survival


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May 23, 2017

Although this edition was published in 2012 with a new forward by Margaret Atwood, it is too bad that the author doesn't thoroughly update this 1972 Canadian literature survey to bring it into the 21st century to include the many prize-winning Canadian writers of the intervening 50 years.


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May 23, 2017

The renowned Canadian writer, Margaret Atwood, surveys Canadian writing on twelve themes and compares to American and British writing on the same topics. Atwood brings her dry humour and strong opinions to lighten a book that is well suited to a Canadian literature class or a book club.

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