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Surfacing

atwood novel language canadian

a novel by Margaret Atwood, published in 1973. A young Canadian divorcee travels with three friends—one of them her lover—to her childhood home, in search of clues to the disappearance of her father from a remote island in a large lake in Northern Quebec. This outward search takes her back to her childhood and her past, inducing her to face the unresolved questions of her life as a woman. Motherhood, sexuality, and identity are dissolved in a crucible of mysticism verging on madness, as she plunges into visions of the supernatural and the mythological, described in spare, poetic language that evokes the wonder and the horror of the Canadian wilderness. Natural imagery is employed by Atwood as a metaphor for inner states in this novel of quest, which, while reflecting contemporary works by Doris Lessing and some of the theories of R. D. Laing, is nevertheless innovative and unique in its fusion of language and vision and its depiction of psychological states. The triumphant conclusion, in which the narrator emerges in full possession of her powers as a woman, is a masterpiece of feminist epiphany, and the novel sets forth several of the themes of Atwood's later poetry and of her prose, both fictional and critical.

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