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Literary Criticism Canadian

Second Words

Selected Critical Prose 1960–1982

by (author) Margaret Atwood

House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Aug 2018
Canadian, Feminism & Feminist Theory
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 1995
    List Price

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Reissued in a handsome A List edition, the largest collection of critical prose to date from world renowned author and poet Margaret Atwood, featuring an introduction by Lennie Goodings.

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.

About the author

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.
Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, part of the Massey Lecture series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.
Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson. 

Margaret Atwood's profile page

Editorial Reviews

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

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

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

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.


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