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Strategies for Identity

The Fiction of Margaret Atwood

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Eleonora Rao

Questions of genre, identity and female subjectivity comprise the focus of this comprehensive study of the contemporary Canadian novelist and poet Margaret Atwood. It explores the literary sense of the plurality of genres and narrative styles present throughout Atwood's published fiction, with the purpose of analyzing the revisitation of historical and canonical forms. The narrative possibilities inherent to specific genres constitute the basis of an examination of representations of selfhood in the light of psychoanalytic theories of language and subjectivity that define the subject as heterogeneous and in constant process.
Atwood's work proposes a gendered vision of subjectivity, wherein woman is characterized by a multiplicity of roles and subjective positions. Atwood's delineations of the marginality and polyvalency of her female characters are discussed in relation to sexual politics and gender difference. Of primary importance to the study is the texts' emphasis on the determination of sense reception by stereotypes, and on the epistemological questions raised by this in relation to language, the construction of reality, and interpretation.