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Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  2,225 Ratings  ·  244 Reviews
Acclaimed author Margaret Atwood’s definitive look at the role of the writer.

What is the role of the writer? Prophet? High Priest of Art? Court Jester? Or witness to the real world? Looking back on her own childhood and the development of her writing career, Margaret Atwood examines the metaphors that writers of fiction and poetry have used to explain -- or excuse -- their
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 9th 2003 by Anchor Canada (first published March 6th 2002)
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May 31, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to a great professor of mine, I've become super aware of just how rare these gems are. Writers writing on writing. I mean, can it get any more... essential (for both the aspiring writer and astute reader)? To read her poetics, with so many citations and so many examples that bring light to the whole art form, well, it's a rare treat. And her elevated language and accessibility is exactly why we've all come to love anything produced by this literary goddess.

& perhaps a few too many que
Mar 22, 2009 Madeline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Atwood writing about how she became a writer, what it means to be a writer, and why writers do what they do.
If, in my struggles to be a writer, I manage to become even half as talented as Margaret Atwood, that will be enough. That's really all I can think of to say, so I'll just share some of my favorite parts of the book (warning - I had a lot of favorite parts):

"Around the age of seven I wrote a play. The protagonist was a giant; the theme was crime and punishment; the crime was lying, as befi
Jul 24, 2015 Sawsan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
الكتابة.... هذا العمل الانساني الملئ بالإبداع والمتعة والفائدة
سطور منظومة تُعبر عن النفس والأفكار والآراء والمشاعر, وتُصور الحياة والواقع والأحلام
ست محاضرات ألقتها مارجريت آتوود الكاتبة الكندية في جامعة كمبريدج عن الكتابة
دوافع الكتابة, شعور الكاتب أثناء الكتابة, وعلاقة الكاتب بالقارئ, وعلاقة الأدب بالمال وغيرها من الموضوعات..
تمر آتوود على مراحل من السيرة الذاتية, وسيرة ثقافية عن قراءاتها وكيف أصبحت كاتبة, وتأخذنا في جولة متنوعة عن الفن والأدب والأساطير في فترات مختلفة
الكتابة تُبقي ذكر الكُتاب
Margaret Atwood is, I tentatively conclude, not really the kind of writer I truly enjoy. I can appreciate her work, but I don't fall in love with it. I'm not sure why, altogether: partially, perhaps, because I think I could pinpoint her as the author of something without knowing. Her style gets between me and the narrative.

Her style is apparent even in her non-fiction book about writing. It's a collection of connected essays. The essays didn't feel particularly conclusive, though. Interesting, y
Kate Savage
Sep 04, 2014 Kate Savage rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was reminded of something a medical student said to me about the interior of the human body, forty years ago: “It’s dark in there.”

Possibly, then, writing has to do with darkness, and a desire or perhaps a compulsion to enter it, and, with luck, to illuminate it, and to bring something back out to the light. This book is about that kind of darkness, and that kind of desire.

The writers I love are the ones who say writing is an act of sinking, emptiness, the shock of the void and the plea
May 02, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Atwood claims she is just a regular person, but this book leaves no doubt about that claim. She isn't. Written in response to a request to be the Empson lecturer at the University of Cambridge, a series of five lectures, here worked into chapters, explains how it "is" to be a writer. One "how" that resonated with me was the writer as a creator and the writer as a person who does the laundry; the dishes and puts gas in the car. She writes beautifully about the duality of this relationshi ...more
May 19, 2008 Ollie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
What makes someone a writer? What's the role of the writer in the world today? Should she write just for Art's sake or does she have a social responsibility? Is there a third way? And is there an underlying (and universal) psychological reason behind every writer's desire to put words to paper? Margaret Atwood answers all these questions, and more, in six essays which were originally lectures given at Cambridge University.

The great thing about Atwood is that she doesn't place herself, or anyone
Αυτό το βιβλίο δεν μιλάει για τη συγγραφή, αλλά για τους συγγραφείς. Σε μια πλούσια βιβλιογραφία ψάχνει να βρει τη θέση και το ρόλο στην κοινωνία που έχουν. Ποιος είναι ο λόγος που γράφουν. Εξερευνά τη διπλή ταυτότητα του συγγραφέα, ο καθημερινός άνθρωπος πίσω από το συγγραφέα και το συγγραφέα εκείνη τη στιγμή που γράφει. Μοιράζεται τις εμπειρίες της και μας μιλάει για τον αναγνώστη και τέλος το μονοπάτι που διαβαίνει μέσα από τα σκοτάδια του κάτω κόσμου για να φέρει κάτι στην επιφάνεια ώστε να ...more
Mary Catelli
An interesting set of meditations on the writerly life. The first one is most autobiographical, but the others deal with a lot of things. Like the duality of the writer, who can communicate with the reader long after the flesh-and-blood being is in the grave. The shocking moment when she ran across the sweet quote of the Everyman series in its context, which makes it much harsher. The liminality of a writer's life.
Jeffrey Howard
I am, now, completely smitten by Margaret Atwood. Her warm, and brilliant spirit shows on every page. She is passionate about writing, for writing's sake, but provides so many reasons for why we write, why it matters, and how it can change our lives. She is fresh, always poetic, and infecting. Her words inspires one to believe that art can conjure experiences and insights equally powerful as any form source available to us--mystical, divine, or otherwise.

She whispers what every writer, aspiring
“The story is in the dark. That is why inspiration is thought of as coming in flashes. Going into a narrative—into the narrative process—is a dark road. You can’t see your way ahead. Poets know this too; they too travel the dark roads. The well of inspiration is a hole that leads downwards.”

This is much more than a writing book. It’s a 500 course, Special Studies in the Writing Experience. It’s very academic, but so--I would say--enriching. I spent quite a bit of time with these amazing lecture
Martin Ainsley
I wanted to like this book. Really, I did. But my initial enthusiasm faded a little with each chapter until, a few months ago, within thirty pages of the endnotes, I just put it down and haven't felt any inclination to pick it up again. Atwood has a way with words (duh), but I think this works against her when she writes essays; what feel like profound insights when you read them, because of the clever, aphoristic turns of phrase, end up looking more like hollow abstractions when you get a littl ...more
إبراهيم   عادل
مشكلتي الأساسية مع هذا الكتاب أني توقعت منه أكثر بكثيرٍ مما جاء فيه..
في نحو 200 صفحة تتعرَّض الكاتبة والباحثة (في هذا الكتاب) مارجريت أتوود لعددٍ من مشكلات/أسئلة الكتابة ولكنها بدلاً من أن تتحدث عن رؤيتها الخاصة تستنطق وتبحث في عدد من الروايات والقصائد من حولها،

في الفصل الأخير، بعنوان (مفاوضات مع الموتى) فقط يتضح للقارئ لماذا اختارت الكاتبة هذا الاسم، في أنها تعتبر الكتابة بشكلٍ عام مفاوضات مع الموتى كونها السبيل للخلود والحياة الأبدية، وهي في هذا السياق تستحضر ما كتبه عدد من الروائيين، وب
Adrian Stumpp
This is Atwood's obligatory book about writing, although it really has nothing to with writing and more to do with being a writer. It's a quick read with lots of musings on the writer's life, the power of art, and things like that. Present is Atwood's characteristic storytelling style. The anecdotes are well rendered and insightful. Not recommended for those in search of a true "writing" book, but previously established fans of Atwood's work should find this book worth reading.

Apr 10, 2009 Britta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Into the Labyrinth: A Writer on Writing.

Why Write?

To record the world as it is. To set down the past before it is all forgotten. To excavate the past because it has been forgotten. To satisfy my desire for revenge. Because I knew I had to keep writing or else I would die. Because to write is to take risks, and it is only by taking risks that we know we are alive. To produce order out of chaos. To delight and instruct (not often found after the early twentieth century, or not in that form). To pl
Amber Tucker
May 31, 2010 Amber Tucker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Someone's looking out for me up there. Last spring I happened upon Northrop Frye's Educated Imagination, and devoured it (and have since done so a few more times). More recently, I bought Margaret Atwood's Negotiating with the Dead, only because I'd enjoyed some of her poetry and this was in a blow-out sale at Coles. Like Frye's Massey Lectures, it's one of those books that has changed the way I think about literature and writing. What's astonishing to me is how well one follows upon the other. ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Vicki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Atwood made me get teary-eyed on the subway while reading this book.

"Negotiating With the Dead" is a reflection on the roles of writers and their readers, adapted and somewhat expanded from the Empson Lectures which Margaret Atwood delivered at Cambridge University in 2000. It is breathtakingly erudite and eclectic, but is also interwoven with very personal and down-to-earth recollections and episodes from Atwood's own journey as both a writer and a reader. It was a sweet reminiscence a
Wei Lien Chin
Dec 02, 2015 Wei Lien Chin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
You will enjoy this book if you are a writer, and you will enjoy this book even more if you were ever a literature student.

Margaret Atwood has pieced together six separate speeches, which she'd expanded as essays, and all of them are related to writers and writing.

Naturally, having never studied literature, some of the essays went over my head. Essays 3 and 4, in particular, were overwhelming. Atwood has obviously given the act of writing a lot of thought, and I feel small next to the mere pre
Dec 22, 2015 Candace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a creative writer--so how useful this book is as inspiration/instruction to those who are trying to write creatively or to spur/better their writing, I cannot say. However, as an intellectual discussion of what it means to write and be a writer and how both the action and identity, respectively, come about was very interesting. Overall, I am inordinatly fond of Atwood's way of phrasing things.
خالد العزيز
حسناً .. أنهيته .. لم أكن أتوقع أن قراءته ستأخذ كل هذا الوقت ،وكان سقف توقعاتي أكبر من ذلك ..
مشكلة هذا الكتاب أنه ليس كتاباً عن الكتابة بشكل كامل ،بل ما يصح وصفه بأنه كتاباً عن أمثلة عن الكُتاب و الكتابة و الكِتاب من الكتب ،صحيح أنه يحوي بعض الفقرات القوية ،ألا أنه لم يكن على قدر ما تمنيت ،رغم عشقي لمارجريت أتوود .
الترجمة جيدة عدا بعض الهفوات المطبعية ،وهذا ليس بجديد عن د.عزة مازن مترجمة القاتل الأعمى لمارجريت أتوود.

2002 Hardcover edition published by Cambridge University (ISBN 0-521-66260-5)

Page 5 - "No writer emerges from childhood into a pristine environment, free from other people's biases about writers. All of us bump against a number of preconceptions about what we are or ought to be like, what constitutes good writing, and what social functions writing fulfills, or ought to fulfill. All of us develop our own ideas about what
Jan 19, 2009 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
Shelves: myfavorites
This is possibly my favorite Atwood ever. It is intensely personal, from a series of lectures she gave. The final chapter especially, is incredible.

(p.10) "When I was eight we moved again, to another postwar bungalow, this time nearer the center of Toronto, at that time a stodgy provincial city of seven hundred thousand. I was now faced with real life, in the form of other little girls--their prudery and snobbery, their Byzantine social life based on whispering and vicious gossip, and an inabil
Aug 07, 2008 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers, Atwood fans
Shelves: thesis
My first real foray into Atwood's non-fiction, and it was enlightening, to say the least. I'll confess that the book loses steam on many occasions, but for the chapter on duplicity alone, the whole text is worth it. Besides, it's under 200 pages, and a rather easy read, especially in comparison to much of her fiction. If I had to classify the book, I'd say it's Atwood's "A Room of One's Own"--she deals with the causes and effects of writing, with the monoliths of the canon, with the "woman quest ...more
Oct 25, 2016 Duaa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: critics-study
الكتاب لم يقدم إجابات عن كيفية الكتابة، و أعتقد أنه لا يوجد كتاب يقدم إجابات جاهزة و لو توفر كتاب كهذا لما انطبق عليه اسم كتاب- باستثناء الكتب المقدسة- فمهمة الكتاب الحقيقية هي في إحياء و توالد الأسئلة، و بالتالي بعث الوعي من جموده
وجدت تحليلات قيمة لمعاني روايات كلاسيكية قرأتها في مراهقتي، و بدا لي الكتاب كمرجع نقدي لفحوى الروايات في مدى ارتباطها بالأساطير، و هذا سيعينني في قراءاتي المستقبلية
لا أخفي مدى خوفي من قراءة بعض الفقرات التي تضمنت ذكر احتياج الموتى لدم الأحياء و للطعام المستدير، الأ
Debra Komar
Margaret Atwood is - and likely always will be - a mystery to me. I have met her at writers festivals and she is an absolutely lovely woman. But I don't know if you get that from her writing. In the introduction, she warns readers she is not an academic but she certainly writes like one - not intended as a slam (I am an academic who often writes like one) but it creates a distance between author and writer.

Her prose is dense and often beautiful, which makes her popularity so curious. She is not
Feb 21, 2011 Ethan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
"Wanting to meet an author because you like their work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pate."

This book is a well-established writer's take on writing, intended for writers. This was a bit of a strange book. At times, Atwood tends to dissolve into overly philosophical navel-gazing, but every so often she says something quite interesting and clever. I would describe this book as Mostly Okay with moments of Awesome.

This book is based on a series of lectures she gave at Cambridge. At
Ben Dutton
Apr 05, 2012 Ben Dutton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Atwood’s Negotiating with the Dead is her Empson lectures extended into book form. She’s been at the writing game a very long time and she has much to say – much of it will be familiar to other writers and to those interested in how to write – but she has enough original thought to make certain chapters really stand out – particularly the final two chapters, I felt. She occasional does bang a drum I no longer thought valid – the lack of authority given to female writers and poets – thin ...more
Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite authors and I've always admired her intellectual ability to openly and honestly speak her mind on a range of subjects. Negoitating with the Dead is Atwood essentially writing about the skill, pleasure and importance of writing, but it's more of an exploration of other writers and a look into why writers write, rather than a critique of her own work.

Through a series of lectures that have been reconstructed into chapters, Atwood asks many questions such as; W
Charles Matthews
May 05, 2010 Charles Matthews rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Atwood is maybe the only famous writer with whom I have been personally acquainted. And that was a long time ago, when we were graduate students at Harvard. She wasn't famous then, except in Canada, where one of her books of poetry had won the Governor General's Award, but we were sure she would be. Based on a series of lectures she gave at Cambridge University, this book includes some amusing insights into how her personality, interests and career were shaped by growing up in Canada in ...more
جابر طاحون
كتاب عن الكتابة مع انه لبس عن كيفية الكتابة ، و هو أيضًا ليس عن كتابة شخص بعينه .إنه عن الموقف الذي تجد فيه الكاتبة نفسها فيه / و الذي قلما يختلف من كاتب لآخر . يناقش الكتاب ماهية الكتابة و هل هي نشاط انساني ؟ أم مهنة ؟ أم عمل مضجر من أجل المال أو لعلها فن !

اختار مارجريت أتوود _ صاحبة رواية القاتل الحائزة علي البوكر _ العنوان " مفاوضات مع الموتي " علي فرض أن كل الكتابات الروائية، وليس بعضها ، بل ربما كل أنماط الكتابةيحركها و يدفعها من الأعماق خوف من الفناء و افتتان به .

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FABClub (Female A...: * Negotiating with the Dead group discussion 3 7 Aug 26, 2015 08:14AM  
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
More about Margaret Atwood...

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“There's an epigram tacked to my office bulletin board, pinched from a magazine -- "Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pâté.” 299 likes
“My own view of myself was that I was small and innocuous, a marshmallow compared to the others. I was a poor shot with a 22, for instance, and not very good with an ax. It took me a long time to figure out that the youngest in a family of dragons is still a dragon from the point of view of those who find dragons alarming.” 17 likes
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