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Negotiating with the Dead

Negotiating with the Dead
A Writer on Writing

Out of Print

Award Winner

Part of The Empson Lectures

  • Date Published: March 2002
  • availability: Unavailable - out of print June 2014
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521662604

Out of Print

Unavailable - out of print June 2014
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About the Authors
  • What is the role of the writer? Prophet? High Priest of Art? Court Jester? Or witness to the real world? Looking back on her own childhood and writing career, Margaret Atwood examines the metaphors which writers of fiction and poetry have used to explain - or excuse! - their activities, looking at what costumes they have assumed, what roles they have chosen to play. In her final chapter she takes up the challenge of the title: if a writer is to be seen as 'gifted', who is doing the giving and what are the terms of the gift? Margaret Atwood's wide reference to other writers is balanced by anecdotes from her own experiences, both in Canada and on the international scene. The lightness of her touch is underlined by a seriousness about the purpose and the pleasures of writing, and by a deep familiarity with the myths and traditions of Western literature.

    • Author has won Booker prize for latest novel, The Blind Assassin (2000)
    • Atwood is studied now at sixth-form and university undergraduate level, so there will be a student as well as general market, and a market among students on creative writing courses
    • This book is a slightly expanded version of the Empson Lectures delivered at Cambridge in April 2000
    Read more


    • Winner of the Booker Prize for Fiction, 2000 The previous novel, Alias Grace, was shortlisted for the Booker and won the Premio Mondello in 1997

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Consistently enlivening … Margaret Atwood's excellent book performs [that] vital function … Her audience … would have had no hesitation in according her the distinguished status thus implied.' Spectator

    'A witty and profound rumination about writing.' The Times

    'Wearing her learning lightly, Atwood allows her wit to shine on almost every page.' Library Journal

    'This interesting and compelling book is as wise as it is charming, and it is very charming indeed.' Washington Post Book World

    '… finds its truth and its title in the insight that, whether the prose is deathless or merely breathless, the goad to all narrative is mortality.' San Antonio Express News

    'This book shines like the sun or moon or whatever you like best in the shine line.If you have the slightest interest in fiction as reader or critic, get this book as soon as you can. If you are a writer, get it today.' Irish Times

    'The most enjoyable aspect of the book is not, ultimately, any profound critical statement, but its author's refreshing display of erudition.' The Sunday Times

    '… a valuable metafictional commentary on Atwood's own writing.' British Journal of Canadian Studies

    'In this lively and illuminating book [Attwood] digs deep and quests far.' Writing in Education

    See more reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2002
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521662604
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 203 x 137 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.365kg
    • availability: Unavailable - out of print June 2014
  • Table of Contents

    1. Orientation: who do you think you are?
    2. Duplicity: the Jekyll hand, the Hyde hand, and the slippery double
    3. Dedication: the great god Pen
    4. Temptation: Prospero, the Wizard of Oz, Mephisto and Co
    5. Communion: nobody to nobody
    6. Descent: negotiating with the dead.

  • Author

    Margaret Atwood
    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 thirty years of writing, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and several honorary degrees. She is the author of more than twenty-five volumes of poetry, 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), Cat's Eye (1988) and Alias Grace (1996). Her novel The Blind Assassin won the 2000 Booker Prize for Fiction. She has an uncanny knack for writing books which anticipate the popular preoccupations of her public. Margaret Atwood has been aclaimed for her talent for portraying both personal and worldly problems of universal concern. Her work has been published in more than thirty languages, including Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.


    • Winner of the Booker Prize for Fiction, 2000 The previous novel, Alias Grace, was shortlisted for the Booker and won the Premio Mondello in 1997

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