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Literary Criticism Canadian

The Burgess Shale

The Canadian Writing Landscape of the 1960s

by (author) Margaret Atwood

Publisher
The University of Alberta Press, Canadian Literature Centre / Centre de littérature canadienne
Initial publish date
Mar 2017
Category
Canadian, Humor, Composition & Creative Writing
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9781772123012
    Publish Date
    Mar 2017
    List Price
    $12.99
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9781772123043
    Publish Date
    Mar 2017
    List Price
    $8.99

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Description

“The outburst of cultural energy that took place in the 1960s was in part a product of the two decades that came before. It’s always difficult for young people to see their own time in perspective: when you’re in your teens, a decade earlier feels like ancient history and the present moment seems normal: what exists now is surely what has always existed.”

Margaret Atwood compares the Canadian literary landscape of the 1960s to the Burgess Shale, a geological formation that contains the fossils of many strange prehistoric life forms. The Burgess Shale is not entirely about writing itself, however: Atwood also provides some insight into the meagre writing infrastructure of that time, taking a lighthearted look at the early days of the institutions we take for granted today—from writers’ organizations, prizes, and grant programs to book tours and festivals. Introduction by Marie Carrière.

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

"Through this lecture, Atwood provides an account of the past that is shaped by her signature wit, humour, and insight that readers have to come love and to equate with Canadian Literature. As a Canadian icon herself, Atwood provides a window into her own early writing days which will draw a lot of readers to this work.... It is a treasure for readers interested in Canadian Literature because this is where it all began." [Full review at http://www.prairiefire.ca/burgess-shale-canadian-writing-landscape-1960s-margaret-atwood/

Prairie Fire Review of Books

"[Her talk] ranges from ladies’ undergarments to the All-Star Eclectic Typewriter Revue, from schooling in the bible and Shakespeare and comics to starting a publishing company. Atwood’s talk is, as Atwood ever is, dryly amusing.... Atwood’s talk tries to sum up a decade from various angles, finally coming to the question: 'What did we think we were doing, we young writers of that decade?' Experimenting. Describing the landscape in new ways." https://canadianwritersabroad.com/2018/10/31/tell-us-a-story]

Debra Martens

#3 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, April 30, 2017

#1 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, March 19, 2017

"Covering amazing geographical, literary, and temporal sweeps in single witty comments, this work allows the reader a brief glimpse into the mind of a great writer and her perspective and experience living through what would now seem to many the Stone Age of the Canadian writing scene... [A]n invaluable and very readable assignment for students. I equally recommend this short work for a person looking for a light literary frolic through times past in Canada." Canadian Literature 237 (Summer 2019) [Full review at https://canlit.ca/article/rock-of-ages]

Shoshannah Ganz

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