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Scheherazade’s Daughters

The Power of Storytelling in Ecofeminist Change


Barbara Bennett

Scheherazade, the storyteller of 1001 Arabian Nights, recounts stories literally to save her people, and in Scheherazade’s Daughters, Barbara Bennett explores how contemporary female authors attempt to save their own world by telling compelling stories that disseminate ideas of justice and equality for all living things, a philosophy called ecofeminism. Bennett examines how ecofeminism works in works by Margaret Atwood ( Surfacing, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Oryx & Crake), Barbara Kingsolver ( Animal Dreams, The Poisonwood Bible, and Prodigal Summer), and Ruth Ozeki ( My Year of Meats and All over Creation).
Bennett also analyzes ecofeminism in autobiography and memoir in Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge, Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, and Sandra Steingraber’s Living Downstream. Lastly through Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits, Ana Castillo’s So Far from God, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Bennett investigates how magical realism can spread the positive ideas of ecofeminism.
This groundbreaking book dissects the power of literature to convert minds and hearts in a direction that has the potential, like Scheherazade’s stories, to change our world for the better.


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2. Margaret Atwood—“Up Through a Roaring and Confusion” 17


aCHAPTER TWO Margaret Atwood “Up Through a Roaring and Confusion” Margaret Atwood has always resisted labels as a writer, and indeed, it is hard to place her fiction in any one category. She writes feminist tales, dystopian fiction, speculative fiction, realistic fiction, environmental fiction, historical fiction, myths and revisioned fairy tales; in fact, her breadth of subject matter is astounding, and dedicated readers of her work wait for her next book eagerly, wondering what she will do this time. Despite books with varying labels, Atwood is thematically consistent, with certain themes evident in virtually all her work, and these common themes have much to do with ecofeminism. No matter the genre in which she is working, she offers a concerned look at the struggles of women in patriarchies; the volatile relationships between the sexes; loneliness, solitude, alienation, and helplessness as human conditions; and, as she mentioned in an interview, her belief that “God is everywhere, but losing.” Within the constructs of ecofeminism, The Handmaid’s Tale and Orxy and Crake express obvious tenets and lessons, and the two can easily be seen as companion pieces. They also both might be labeled speculative fiction—that is, they start with the question “What if?”—and then, as Atwood explains, they go on to finish that thought: “What if we continue down the road we’re already on? How slippery is the slope?” (http://www.oryxand Especially in terms of ecofeminism she asks: What if we continue to destroy our planet piece by piece? Scheherazade’s...

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