Originally published in 1982, Second Words brings together fifty of Margaret Atwood’s finest essays and reviews spanning two decades, beginning in 1962, with an introduction and commentary by the author.
With her incomparable wit and originality, Atwood discusses the process of writing and the literary life, with insightful looks at the work of such figures as Erica Jong, E. L. Doctorow, Northrop Frye, Roch Carrier, Marie-Claire Blais, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Marge Piercy, Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath, and many more. In several pieces, we see the development of her ideas on Canadian identity and the American dream, as well as her controversial attitudes toward feminism, sexism, and the strange mythologies imposed on men and women in contemporary North America.
Second Words remains the largest collection of Atwood’s critical prose to date.
MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in more than forty-five countries, is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. Her latest novel, The Testaments, is the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, now an award-winning TV series. Her other works of fiction include Cat’s Eye, finalist 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; The MaddAddam Trilogy; and Hag-Seed. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Franz Kafka International Literary Prize, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award. She lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson.
Praise for Margaret Atwood and Second Words:
“Second Words is an invaluable guide to understanding Atwood’s choice of themes, her basic principles, and the development of her work (and world view) … [The book] traces the development of one of the most important ‘political artists’ writing today, one whose future work promises to be even more challenging and dangerous.” — Books in Canada
“Certainly we want to know what one of our major writers feels about literature and people … And though she is … relaxed and conversational in these occasional pieces … there are so many good words, so much intelligence, that the garden-variety reviewer seethes with envy.” — Toronto Star
“What comes across mostly is [Atwood’s] critical generosity and her understanding that the art of writing inevitably turns the writer into a global politician; every novel offers a vision of the world. Through thick and thin, Atwood has been a passionate literary citizen.” — Maclean’s
“Second Words establishes critical patterns through which a provocative, original mind interprets the world. Thus it helps us to reassess all her work.” — Christian Science Monitor