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The Journals of Susanna Moodie
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The Journals of Susanna Moodie

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  545 ratings  ·  26 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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Mw Pm
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."

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
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
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.
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
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.
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
"Death of a Young Son by Drowning"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)"
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
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
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.
In 1832, Susanna immigrated to northern Canada. These poems tell of her life and struggles in a hostile new land.
I love this book, the strange bare poems, the loneliness, and the wild and vivid (sometimes creepy) artwork.
Aug 02, 2011 Marg rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Signed by the author.
"for Marg Yeo
rewarding faithful
Margaret Atwood
March 1970"
Better than other Atwood poetry books I've least I can tell what's going on some of the time!
B- I enjoy her novels better than her poems, but literary, so it tells a story.
Kay Sundstrom
This poems haunted me for years
Anne Thessen
Jun 23, 2008 Anne Thessen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Anne by: Ricky
Excellent art, amazing poetry.
Originally Elke's; not that exciting.
Sparse and beautiful
A fantastic collection.
James Taylor
James Taylor marked it as to-read
Jan 24, 2015
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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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“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”
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