Paris, 2022-03-10 13:18:11. Margaret Atwood in her latest book of essays
TORONTO – Margaret Atwood doesn’t think there is a “wrong” side to history, so she doesn’t care much about how she remembers it.
Atwood, 82, said, “I don’t care. I’m going to die. We might be surprised. You have an open mind. But it kind of doesn’t matter. And I have no control over it.”
The Canadian literary legend added a new book of essays titled “Perfect Questions” to her prolific bibliography this month. The collection consists of essays, speeches, book reviews, political commentaries, and other reflections crafted between 2004 and 2021—covering a turbulent period, as Atwood sees it, the historical stakes of the issues we face seem even more extreme and immediate, between the slow burning of the climate crisis and threats to the future of representative democracy.
But Atwood said she does not write posterity in mind, and is more concerned with the fate of the living than the whims of inheritance.
“What usually happens right after you die, there’s a huge wave of interest, and people are doing features on you….and then you’re old. People go, ‘Eye roll, eye roll, eye roll.'” Oh, said Atwood.
“They do it somewhat when you’re old, anyway, they roll eyes. Unless you get really relevant right away, like having a TV show that everyone thinks is prophetic. They don’t roll their eyes at that time. They just wait a bit and then roll them.” Later “.
Atwood said this fabrication served as a counterweight against the artists’ “idolatry”. It’s a problem that the Toronto writer has haunted since the popular TV adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and its 2019 sequel, “The Testaments,” led to her late career resurgence as the “prophet of dystopia.”
“I’ve often been right,” she said with a laugh. “They forgot all the times I was wrong.”
Aside from an entertaining interest in tarot card reading, Atwood insisted she was not in the business of predicting the future. If anything, the “pressing questions” show her that she is a skilled reader of history, eliciting insights into the present moment. Anything beyond that, she said, is up to us to decide.
“You can look for signs and symptoms, and you can say, if we keep going down this road, we are likely to fall into a ditch,” Atwood said. This does not mean that we will continue down this path.”
In “Hot Questions,” Atwood confronts a series of crises that have characterized the twenty-first century – from the US-led war on terror, to the financial meltdown of 2008, to Donald Trump’s polarizing rise to the White House, to the COVID-19 crisis – with wisdom not Their uncompromising makes the articles timely and timeless.
Atwood’s drumbeat of warnings has been a constant for nearly two decades on the group’s covers; The world changes to give new echo to her observations of the dangers of ecological devastation, totalitarian encroachment, and social upheaval during epidemics.
Throughout her career, this clarity of conviction seems to have kept Atwood in line with the whims of the zeitgeist, constantly way ahead of her time. But in recent years, this same independent streak has made her stand out from certain circles of the contemporary feminist movement.
And dust has recently surrounded her with a tweet last fall she shared with an editorial in the Toronto Star titled, “Why can’t we just say ‘woman’ anymore?” The article by Rosie Dimano argued that the growing embrace of gender-inclusive language, such as “one who menstruates,” raises concerns about lexical “wiping of women”. Some critics have accused Atwood of inflating dog whistles against transgender people.
In an interview last month, Atwood shrugged off the controversy.
“I don’t care,” she said. “I’m on record saying that transgender rights are human rights.” “When I was (tweeting) about transgender rights…and the science about it, I was getting trolled by people who didn’t agree with it. And that’s what happens.”
Atwood said she has proven herself resilient in culture wars because she is more interested in truth than pandering to the age’s dogma.
Some people tend to think of time as a linear march toward progress, Atwood said. But in her view, there is nothing inevitable about how history will unfold, so there is no point in trying to be on the “right” side of it today while finding yourself on the “wrong” side tomorrow.
This is especially true of posthumous artistic reputation, she said, which tends to go up and down with the ever-changing cultural tide.
“You have a period where people ignore your awful things you’ve done and focus on the good,” Atwood said. “And then you have another period where your seeming mistakes are stacked against you.”
“If things settle down, you’ll go into oblivion for a while and then someone will discover a miracle for you. Dig your pyramid. And look, look at who we’ve been condoning all these years.”
This report was first published by The Canadian Press on March 10, 2022.
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