The winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, Marian Engel’s most famous – and most controversial – novel tells the unforgettable story of a woman transformed by a primal, erotic relationship. Lou is a lonely librarian who spends her days in the dusty archives of the Historical Institute. When an unusual field assignment comes her way, she jumps at the chance to travel to a remote island in northern Ontario, where she will spend the summer cataloguing a library that belonged to an eccentric nineteenth-century colonel. Eager to investigate the estate’s curious history, she is shocked to discover that the island has one other inhabitant: a bear. Lou’s imagination is soon overtaken by the island’s past occupants, whose deep fascination with bears gradually becomes her own. Irresistibly, Lou is led along a path of emotional and sexual self-awakening, as she explores the limits of her own animal nature. What she discovers will change her life forever. As provocative and powerful now as when it was first published. Includes a reading group guide.
From the Hardcover edition.
Marian Engel was born in Toronto, Ontario, in 1933. She grew up in the Ontario towns of Brantford, Galt, Hamilton, and Sarnia. She received her B.A. (1955) from McMaster University and her M.A. (1957) from McGill University, where she wrote her thesis, “The Canadian Novel, 1921-55,” under the supervision of Hugh MacLennan.
After living abroad and teaching in the United States and Europe, Engel returned to Canada in 1964 and settled in Toronto, which was to remain her home.
Her many novels and short stories explore the daily lives of her contemporaries, frequently reflecting upon the human condition from the perspective of women.
Engel was a founding member of the Writers’ Union of Canada and served as its first chairman in 1973-74.
Marian Engel died in Toronto in 1985.
“The best Canadian novel of all time. . . . Engel’s prose turns swiftly from the comic to lyric and back again. . . . In part for its extravagant strangeness, for the disruption it poses to [Canadian] tradition, Bear deserves to be celebrated.”
“A strange and wonderful book, plausible as kitchens, but shapely as a folktale, and with the same disturbing resonance.”
“Canada’s Lolita or Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”
--Globe and Mail
“Bear works as simply and mysteriously as a folktale. It is a remarkable tour de force.”
--New York Times
“A startlingly alive narrative of the forbidden, the unthinkable, the hardly imaginable.”
“At once insightful and mysterious. . . . Bear is brave. We should be too.”
“It’s a modern Canadian fable . . . and, above all, totally readable.”
“An astounding novel, both earthy and mythical, which leads into the human self and also outward to suggest and celebrate the mystery of life itself.”
--Margaret Laurence, author of The Stone Angel
“A riveting story . . . brilliant and moving.”
– Publishers Weekly
From the Hardcover edition.