The Political in Margaret Atwood's Fiction: The Writing on the Wall of the Tent, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Political in Margaret Atwood's Fiction

The Writing on the Wall of the Tent, 1st Edition

By Theodore F. Sheckels


200 pages

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Suggesting that politics and power are at the center of Margaret Atwood's fiction, Theodore F. Sheckels examines Atwood's novels from The Edible Woman to The Year of the Flood. Whether her treatment is explicit as in Bodily Harm and The Handmaid's Tale or by means of an exploration of interiority as in Cat's Eye and The Robber Bride, Atwood's persistent concern is with how the empowered act towards those who are constrained within the political, economic and social institutions that facilitate power dynamics. Sheckels identifies an increasing sophistication in Atwood's exposition of power over time that is revealed in the later novels' engagement with social class, postcolonialism, and a globalism that merges science and commerce as issues relevant to politics and power. Acknowledging that Atwood is not a political theorist but a novelist, Sheckels does not suggest that her work should be viewed as political commentary but rather as a creative treatment of the laudable but ultimately only partially successful ways in which women and other groups resist the constraints placed on them by institutionalized oppression.


'[Sheckles] indicates how central political issues are in Atwood’s writing, and it also allows Sheckels to make fresh connections between works, as when he identifies Atwood’s early novel Life before Man as a clear precedent to the recent apocalyptic novels Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood - a connection that has largely gone unnoticed by other critics. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper division undergraduates through faculty.' Choice ’…the book offers an elegant, detailed, and reflective analysis of Atwood’s presentation of power and resistance in all human relationships and contexts.’ Modern Language Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; Part 1 (I) Exteriority: The Edible Woman; Surfacing; Lady Oracle; Life Before Man. Part 2 Politics Foregrounded: Bodily Harm; The Handmaid's Tale. Part 3 Interiority: Cat's Eye; The Robber Bride. Part 4 Exteriority (II): Alias Grace; The Blind Assassin; Oryx and Crake; The Year of the Flood; Atwood overall; Works cited; Index.

About the Author

Theodore F. Sheckels is Professor of English and Communication Studies at Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia, USA. The founding editor of Margaret Atwood Studies and the current President of the Margaret Atwood Society, he is the author of several studies of Commonwealth literatures and U.S. and Commonwealth political communication.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature