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Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature

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3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  152 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
"Strange Things" explores a part of the imaginative landscape of one of the most esteemed and popular of contemporary writers, Margaret Atwood. Atwood's witty and informative book focuses on the imaginative mystique of the wilderness of the Canadian North. She discusses the 'Grey Owl Syndrome' of white writers going native; the folklore arising from the mysterious - and di ...more
Hardcover, 126 pages
Published January 18th 1996 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

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Alexa
Dec 29, 2015 Alexa rated it liked it
Shelves: fab-15
This is a great collection of essays, showing Atwood’s humor and wit and joy in the themes of Canadian literature. It’s an interesting analysis of many of the same themes that can be seen running through her own work – and it’s a lot of fun to read just for the sense of connection it gave me to Atwood the real person (who wears earrings that match her lecture topic!).
Melissa  Jeanette
This was a lot of fun to read. I chose it as additional research for a paper I was working on, and I'm glad I did. There were so many funny, poignant, insightful moments that I had a mountain of sticky notes hanging out the side by the the end (as it was a library book and I couldn't underline to my hearts content). It was almost painful to remove stickies when I finally had to make the "not applicable to my research" decisions. I found the chapters on the Franklin expedition and the Wendigo to ...more
Rosie (prosesroses)
Strange Things puts together 4 chapters or lectures on Canadian literary themes connected to the north that Margaret Atwood gave at Oxford University.

Atwood is terrific writer and speaker, witty and engaging. It really shows here. This book is a great extension of Atwood's previous book on CanLit themes, Survival, and is actually written better than that. At 126 pages, it goes by fast. Atwood interweaves haunting imagery, mythology and real-life Canadian events into themes that illustrate the Ma
...more
El
Dec 14, 2007 El rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who else better to write about the uses and mythologies of Canada in (Canadian) literature than Margaret Atwood? Here she does not glorify it. She admits there is very little to reference, and what there is is not very pretty. These lectures explores from cannibalism to Wendigo and other stuff in between. She is sassy and sarcastic, and if you take every word she says literally then the joke is on you. She knows her shizzle and in true Atwood form discusses the symbolism of the North and Canada ...more
Tiffany Risner
Apr 06, 2014 Tiffany Risner rated it really liked it
Although I try not to focus on nationalistic pieces of writing, I felt compelled to read and review this collection of lectures that Ms. Atwood delivered in 1991 because she references so many other Northern texts, authors, ideas and symbology. She claims not to be an academic, but qualifies herself on the basis of her own “amateur enthusiasms.” Her four lectures are on the following subjects: The tragic Franklin expedition, The Grey-Owl Syndrome in which whites want to be Indians, The Wendigo ( ...more
Liadagh
Feb 22, 2016 Liadagh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Margaret Atwood's witty and informative book provided a fascinating insight into how the great wild north, better known as the Yukon (and Newfound in the east) has shaped Canadian literature and the ways in which the legacy and legends of north still influences Canadian writers today, Atwood included.

If you are curious about Canadian literature and wish to learn more without resorting to dry academic texts this is a good place to start.

Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite writers, and this b
...more
Fiona
Dec 14, 2014 Fiona rated it it was ok
I think literary criticism isn't for me.
Anna
Mar 31, 2014 Anna rated it really liked it
I like Atwood's writing so much I actually enjoyed this piece of non-fiction and I read more than I needed for my paper. Which really means something.
Geoff
Aug 06, 2013 Geoff rated it liked it
Very strong, entertaining talks. These would have been fun lectures to sit in on. As a reading, they don't pack the same punch, but they're still worth the relatively small amount of time it took to get through them. All in all, well worth the time to read for anyone that cares even a little bit about the mythologies and identity we've built up around ourselves in Canada.
Sian Lile-Pastore
i like books about snow and ice and 'the north' so i liked this. it's a series of lectures that atwood delivered in oxford and looks at the wendigo, women writers in the 'canadian wilderness'and lots of other things. it's really interesting.
Meg
Dec 06, 2008 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any interested in Canadian lit or national identity or Wendigos
Love Margaret Atwood, can't wait to see how this works out.

Fascinating, amazing, funny. Drags a little on the chapter about white Canadians who want to become Indian, but overall very good.
A.-C.
Dec 14, 2011 A.-C. rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Very insightful and witty. I always enjoy the way Atwood's work - fiction as well as non-fiction - few authors or critics resonate as well with me as she does.
Andrea
Oct 20, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Margaret Atwood is the best lecturer ever! I would read endless nonfiction by Margaret Atwood. As I read this, so much Canlit floated through my head. Wonderful!
Kirsty
Dec 24, 2014 Kirsty rated it it was amazing
I'm a bit obsessed lately with the north and ships/oceans, and this scratched my itch nicely. Atwood is always readable and intelligent, and this book was no exception.
Stephanie
Quite riveting, especially for a book of literary criticism. Far more relevant and insightful than the points in Survival.
Janet
As funny, smart and compelling as her fiction.
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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
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