People who read books identify with the book, not so much with you. They only identify with you if someone else writes a book in which you figure as a character like Virginia Woolf and The Hours ; then you get to be a character in a work of fiction . . . So, when you’re dead and you get to be a character in somebody else’s book, then you can have that kind of identification with yourself, but other than that you’re just the medium. People don’t go to a seance to talk to the medium; they go to talk to Aunt Bessie!
Spanning different genres, as well as crossing over them, Atwood’s her own life and work but also the contexts for it and reception of it. It references the work of a number of key Atwood scholars, of which there are many, drawn from across North America, Britain and Europe. Atwood was once told by her high school English teacher, ‘This must be a very good poem dear because I can’t understand it at all.’
Heidi Slettedahl Macpherson is Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Professor of English at De Montfort University, Leicester.