By Leonard Unger, Jay Parini
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The Canadian literary scene found much to appreciate in this novel, from the portrayal of the Canadian wilderness to the concern about American influence. Because of Surfacing, feminist critics adopted Atwood as one of their own, though Atwood insists that her novels are not expressions of feminist dogma. Psychoanalytic and anthropological critics have found much to admire in the shamanistic sequence, comparing the narrator’s experiences with traditional Native American practices, European notions of shamanism, and Jungian and Laingian psychology.
In fact, Lady Oracle is studded with passages from the latest romance she is writing. Part 2 documents Joan’s relationship with her mother and her life as a fat girl. Joan recounts her embattled relationship with her mother as her mother’s “product” and the justification of her unhappy life. Her mother focuses on trying to get Joan to lose weight. Joan begins to recognize her body as “disputed territory” between them—as her mother encourages Joan to “reduce,” Joan defies her mother by eating gluttonously and buying outrageously conspicuous clothes to highlight her bulk and her mother’s failure.
At Leaside High School, Atwood wrote for the school newspaper. At Victoria College, University of Toronto, where she studied between 1957 and 1961, she began to pursue a literary career in earnest, participating in the social and intellectual life of the college. She 19 20 / AMERICAN WRITERS plete collection, The Circle Game, in 1966. In 1967 The Circle Game won the Governor General’s Award for literature, an important Canadian honor. During the same year, Atwood married James Polk, a fellow graduate student and an American novelist.
American Writers, Supplement XIII by Leonard Unger, Jay Parini