Surfacing is the second available novel by Margaret Atwood. It was first published by McClelland and Steward in 1972. It has been called a companion novel to Atwood’s collection of poems, Power Politics, which was written the previous year and deals with balancing issues. The novel, grappling with notions of national and gendered self. Atwood’s second work of fiction develops many of the thematic concerns of her poetry in redolent prose. Surfacing presents a woman disabled by the penalty of her “marital” experience, but the protagonist’s journey from spiritual and emotional paralysis to combined agency has a powerful mythic length that the previous novel lacks. It is an knowledge that has left her anaesthetized, cut off from her emotions by a form of mind/body split, and her recollections are so caring that she represses them in willful amnesia. The quest in search of her father, however, triggers a quest of self-discovery, as the narrator’s history refuses to stay flooded; she is haunted by memories of her parents, a marriage that never was, and her involvement in the abortion of her child. Eventually, she is forced to tackle here specters when a dive below the lake surface becomes a symbolic dive into her own insensible. She ritualistically sheds all remainder of a language and culture that has led her into self-betrayal and carry out. Alone on the island, she undergoes a shamanistic cleansing madness, eventually surfacing with a new-found sense of self. The novel’s end resonates with Atwood’s of that period thematic guide to Canadian literature, Survival. Poised to return to the world that she has left, the narrator’s idea leaves her with a decision that speaks to her familiarity as both a Canadian and as a woman: This above all, to decline to be a victim
Article Details
Unique Paper ID: 147425

Publication Volume & Issue: Volume 5, Issue 8

Page(s): 29 - 32
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