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Cat's Eye

feminist elaine novel atwood

a novel by Margaret Atwood, published in 1989. Told from the perspective of a painter, Elaine Risley, this reflective yet profoundly critical novel works on several levels: as a sensitive exploration of women's relationships with other women, with their families, and with men; as an examination of the changing mores of feminism, and of the post-feminist ideology of the 1980s; as an account of the development of a woman artist, and the transformation of lived experience into art; and as a portrait of the changing panorama of four decades of Canadian life, both social and artistic. A retrospective exhibition of her work provides Elaine with the opportunity to examine the events that inspired her creations. The poetic introspection of her early memories, with its haunting description of her relationship with her brother, is marred by her recollection of her bond with Cordelia, alternately friend and adversary, which serves as a metaphor for the illusions and betrayals she encounters in her life. The sections set in the present allow Atwood's satirical vision full scope, as she portrays the attitude of the present generation of feminist critics to their erstwhile icons. Looking back at her past from the perspective of a relatively complacent middle age, Elaine revises her own attitudes and those of successive feminist generations to allow a wide margin for the privileges of domesticity, introspection, and contented relationships.

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