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The Journals of Susanna Moodie

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  651 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Margaret Atwood's The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970), regarded by many as her most fully realized volume of poetry, is one of the great Canadian and feminist epics. In 1980, Margaret Atwood's longtime friend, the distinguished Canadian artist Charles Pachter, illustrated, designed, and published a handmade boxed portfolio edition of 120 copies of the poem with silkscree ...more
Hardcover, 70 pages
Published December 31st 1997 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1970)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,210)
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Marianne Søiland
Nov 18, 2015 Marianne Søiland rated it really liked it
Nå har jeg lest Roughing it in the Bush av Susanna Moodie før denne diktsamlingen. Det kan være en fordel. Atwood har klart, i få men effektive dikt, å gjenskape følelsen til pioneerkvinnen Moodie da hun kom til Canada for første gang og ble i 7 år. Anbefales nok helst til dem som har lest Moodie, selv om Atwood i etterordet skriver at det ikke er nødvendig å lese Moodie først. Sikkert ikke nødvendig, men jeg ser jeg fikk mye mer ut av diktene med bakgrunnen i sekken. Kanskje fordi jeg ikke er s ...more
Feb 11, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it
In the Afterword, Margaret Atwood states: "These poems were generated by a dream. I dreamt that I was watching an opera I had written about Susanna Moodie. I was alone in the theatre: on the empty white stage, a single figure was singing." And later, about her poems: "I suppose many of these were suggested by Mrs. Moodie's books, though it was not her conscious voice, but the other voice running like a counterpoint through her work that made the most impression on me."

Sep 10, 2015 Hollie rated it it was amazing
As someone who doesn't generally read poetry I was expecting to feel confused or uninterested in this collection of poems, especially as I also have no background in Canadian literature or history and no knowledge of Susanna Moodie, however the narrative was easy to follow and the writing was completely immersive to the point that none of that mattered. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and analysing this, and would definitely recommend it as a starting point for anyone new to Atwood who isn't sure i ...more
Sep 02, 2013 A.M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this collection of poetry by Margaret Atwood based on real-life Canadian emigrant, Susanna Moodie, a pioneer in the early 1800s who penned autobiographical accounts of her adventures and trials in the Canadian wilderness.

At first, I felt compelled to read Moodie's own work, Roughing It in the Bush, but upon reading Atwood's "Afterword," abandoned the endeavor. Suffice it to say, Atwood's artistic rendition in no way matches the tone of Moodie's writing, which I can only describe
Oct 30, 2011 Vicki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Atwood's poetic reimagining of the hardscrabble life of Susanna Moodie, a British settler who emigrated to Canada in the 1830s, is vivid unto itself. It groups Moodie's experiences into three sets of poems: the first covers her arrival in Canada and primitive subsistence on a farm near what became Peterborough, Ontario, the second covers her somewhat more civilized existence in the town of Belleville, and the third is actually a posthumous set of reflections that concludes with her spir ...more
Aug 10, 2015 Wendy rated it really liked it
The writer's information on the back cover says, "Margaret Atwood lives in Edmonton." That was so long ago...when she was the UofA's writer in residence. I'm embarrassed to say I am only getting to this book now. This is an evocative collection that places Moodie in a real and imagined Canada of the past and (at least in 1970 when the book was published) future. I will return to these poems--the issues explored are as relevant today as they were in 1970.
Thomas Cummins
Feb 17, 2016 Thomas Cummins rated it liked it
I'm torn on this book. On one hand I loved the letters in the beginning that explained the backstory and history behind this book, but on the hand I'm not a poetry fan (so the actual content by Atwood did almost nothing for me). The volume itself is strikingly beautiful though, and Pachter's illustrations to die for. I just honestly can't recommend this book for anything more than decoration or as a coffee table book.
Jan 24, 2015 Diana rated it it was amazing
I found this book by accident. It fell into my hands in the poetry section at the library. It further fell open to a poem about a child lost to the land that Susanna Moodie was trying to settle. About a month later I happened upon the book in an antique book store and that my friends is the end of that. Would love to see an original of the manuscript. It is clearly a bonafide piece of art.
Jan magdalene
Jul 27, 2015 Jan magdalene rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
fucking boring and horrible concept poetry: a failure at being anti-colonial in it's treatment of it's content in any way. like, you gotta fuck with it somehow ya' know? you gotta give SOME sort of message, if you're badly re-writing the diary entries of a gross racist scumfuck. or you can be lazy and boring and i'll puke on your book by mistake.
There's an eerie, haunting quality to these poems supposedly inspired by a dream Margaret Atwood had about writing an opera based on the journals of Susanna Moodie.

The book is divided into three time frames starting with Susanna Moodie's landing on Canadian soil to settle there and ending with her death and beyond.

There's this whole "haunted landscape" feel to the entire collection. From drownings and the loss of life to the lynching of a black man, these poems draw upon the harsh wilderness o
Jan 23, 2015 Natalie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to compare with Susanna Moodie's "Roughing it in the Bush". I would never have chosen to read this book on my own but since I read it in Can. Lit it was ok.
Feb 06, 2015 Alexa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fab-15
A stunningly illustrated version of Margaret Atwood’s poetic reimagining of the off-putting voice of one of Canada’s most unhappy early pioneers. She has really captured Moodie’s misery, regret, and alienation. Quite enthralling.
Sep 05, 2015 Jayda rated it liked it
i liked the poems, the hint of morbidity was a bit surprising
(required reading)
Mar 11, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
I am now curious to read the original books to see the original inspiration.
Cycle of poems based loosely on the journals of 19th-cen. English pioneer in Canada whose journals are apparently required reading in Canadian Lit. Atwood is excellent as always on the divided inner voice, the accute natural detail and the murky underconsciousness rumbling beneath, the sharp self-hatred with which the entrapped lie to themselves. The poems are good but not excellent; I think the best part may be the movement of the story out of the backcountry into the city and the twentieth cen ...more
Jan 21, 2015 Ally rated it liked it
Shelves: ipfw-fresh_14-15
"Death of a Young Son by Drowning"
Jun 14, 2015 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous words and gorgeous art: soulmates.
May 17, 2014 Teo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really good poems with a strong voice throughout (albeit made up by Atwood, but I'm not complaining because it works for me). Journal 3 might seem a little disjointed in the context of the earlier journals, but it might be the way it was meant to be written, anyhow. Perhaps the entire point of Journal 3 was that it was not meant to be understood, as how the complexities of the pioneer immigrant experience is not to be understood.
Jun 29, 2012 Sebastian rated it really liked it
I'm often interested in how artists visually interpret writing, especially poetry. While I thought Pachter's accompanying illustrations were interesting, I didn't especially care for them-- just not my taste.

One of Atwood's most exciting volumes of poetry, historically based, though the work sneaks up on you in ways her other work does not, the wilderness upon you at the second you've discovered it's been lurking.
Oct 07, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
I began this collection expecting to hate it. I had previously read quite a bit about Ms. Moodie and assumed that poetry about her life would be dull. I was wrong. This is some of the deepest, most beautiful and haunting contemporary poetry I have ever read. Atwood's insight into the psyche of the woman and the nation is thought provoking and presented in beautiful form. Truly compelling.
Jan 27, 2010 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
I can't say I was overly impressed by this book. It really helps if you've read Roughing It In The Bush by Susanna Moodie. A lot of the poems I found really related to the book and if you didn't read that then this wouldn't make much sense. I found a lot of the poetry quite boring and dull actually. I guess I'm just not a fan of Atwoods poetry.
Dec 01, 2007 Sandra rated it it was amazing
Beautifull book...prints accompaning the poems are really great. I found an excerpt that I read and forgot about from high school...recently found again and discovered was significant for my current life stage...from Looking In a Mirror " (you find only the shape you already are...but what if you have forgotten that...or discover you have never known)"
Apr 10, 2009 Elias rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I read this in a class on long poems after reading "The Four Quartets" and it was so refreshing. I love how Atwood's versions of Moodie's experiences really bring out a more knowledgeable, philosophical voice than the one present in "Roughing it in the Bush". Essential reading for Canadians.
Kat Evans
Feb 22, 2013 Kat Evans rated it it was amazing
Roughing it poems.

"(each refuge fails / us; each danger / becomes a haven)"

"I was not ready / altogether to be moved into"

"look how / fast Belleville is growing / (though it is still no place for an english gentleman)"
Serena Janes
May 27, 2013 Serena Janes rated it it was amazing
Imaginative, evocative poems based on Moodie's experiences as a settler in early Ontario. I think Atwood brilliantly captures the pioneers' experience--both outside and, especially, inside.
Jul 07, 2011 Mariana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1832, Susanna immigrated to northern Canada. These poems tell of her life and struggles in a hostile new land.
Feb 02, 2011 Aimee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2011
I love this book, the strange bare poems, the loneliness, and the wild and vivid (sometimes creepy) artwork.
Aug 02, 2011 Marg rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Signed by the author.
"for Marg Yeo
rewarding faithful
Margaret Atwood
March 1970"
May 25, 2010 Stephanie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, time-3rd-year
Better than other Atwood poetry books I've least I can tell what's going on some of the time!
May 29, 2015 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: readharder
The poetry is beautiful, and, in the edition I read, the accompanying artwork was too.
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FABClub (Female A...: The Journals of Susanna Moodie group discussion 6 11 Feb 05, 2015 07:24PM  
  • A Jest of God
  • Icefields
  • Roughing It in the Bush
  • The Lamp at Noon and Other Stories
  • Your Native Land, Your Life
  • Sisters In The Wilderness: The Lives Of Susanna Moodie And Catharine Parr Traill
  • The Half-Finished Heaven
  • No Language Is Neutral
  • The Dance Most of All: Poems
  • Rising, Falling, Hovering
  • Eunoia
  • The Double Hook
  • Selected Poems
  • The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
  • Dance Me to the End of Love
  • The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos
  • The Oxford Book of War Poetry
  • Appalachia: Poems
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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“History (that list
of ballooning wishes, flukes,
bent times, plunges and mistakes
clutched like parachutes)
is rolling itself up in your head
at one end unrolling at the other.”
“I planted him in this country
like a flag”
More quotes…