On Writers and Writing by Margaret Atwood (Part 2)


Have you read part 1 of this book review yet?

Atwood also talks about the role of duplicity in a writer’s life. She reminds us of Clark Kent and his heroic double Superman. Epics have their fair share of doubles and so does religion. But Romanticism bought in the idea of the writer vs his double, his doppelganger, his evil twin.

So there is:

“the person who walks the dog, eats bran for regularity, takes the car in to be washed, and so forth – and that other altogether more equivocal personage who shares the same body, and who when no one is looking, takes it over and uses it to commit the actual writing.”

Since the writer who writes is a doppelganger of the writer the person, don’t think you are meeting the writer at all when you take her autograph at a book launch as there the writerly writer has left.

Atwood brings up Art for Art’s Sake, though now Art for money’s sake is a reality. She walks so easily through the realms of literature, discussing writers of different ages with the fluency and familiarity of a scholar. If a writer writes for the sake of art, he can also go too far as Kafka shows in one of his short stories. And what about the idea of the femme fatale writer- weren’t there far too many women writers, take Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton who died because of their art addiction?

If you like a writer who is fluent in literature and ideas about writing, On Writers and Writing is the book for you.


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