978-0-19-540169-1 / 9780195401691

The Journals of Susanna Moodie: Poems


Publisher:Oxford University Press, USA



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About the book:

In 1832, a 29-year-old Englishwoman departed for Canada with her family. The product of a genteel upbringing, Susanna Moodie had already established somewhat of a reputation as a writer of essays, poetry and children's stories. None of this, however, prepared her for the rigours of pioneer life, which she chronicled in two volumes of autobiography and eventually came to cherish. Moodie died in 1885, and-- almost a century later--Margaret Atwood seized upon this quintessential pioneer as the subject for a verse epic. In The Journals of Susanna Moodie, Atwood uses Moodie's own words as raw material, reshaping and cutting them into a startling meditation on nature, alienation and our sense of place:

We left one by one
the cities rotting with cholera,
one by one our civilized
and entered a large darkness.
It was our own
ignorance we entered.
Atwood's epic was first published in 1970 and reappeared in a 1980 limited edition featuring illustrations by Charles Pachter, and it is this version that Houghton Mifflin had the good sense to reprint. The result is an elegant artefact, a fitting tribute to an emblematic figure--a woman who Carol Shields has described as "a Crusoe baffled by her own heated imagination, the dislocated immigrant who never fully accepts or rejects her adopted country."

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