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The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out
When Margaret Atwood was a little girl in 1949, she saw a movie called The Red Shoes. It is the story of a beautiful young woman who becomes a famous ballerina, but commits suicide when she cannot satisfy one man, who wants her to devote her entire life to her art, and another who loves her, but subjugates her to become his muse and inspiration. She...
When Margaret Atwood was a little girl in 1949, she saw a movie called The Red Shoes. It is the story of a beautiful young woman who becomes a famous ballerina, but commits suicide when she cannot satisfy one man, who wants her to devote her entire life to her art, and another who loves her, but subjugates her to become his muse and inspiration. She struggles to choose art, but the choice destroys her.Margaret Atwood remembers being devastated by this movie, but unlike many young girls of her time, she escaped its underlying message. Sustained by a strong sense of herself, Margaret Atwood achieved a stratospheric literary career. How did a young girl, in those pre-feminist days, create the instinctive capacity to believe in herself? As pre-eminent biographer Rosemary Sullivan says: "The answer has to do with the mystery of self-confidence".Self-confidence is just one fascinating side of our most famous literary export, examined by Rosemary Sullivan in The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood/Starting Out. Not a biography, but a portrait of a woman and her generation -- this is the unfolding of an enigma. For despite her tremendous success that transcends the literary community, catapulting her into the realm of a "household name", Margaret Atwood has remained very much a private person with a public persona. Rosemary Sullivan reveals the discrepancy between Atwood's cool, acerbic public image and the down-to-earth, straight-dealing and generous woman who actually writes the books. Throughout, she weaves the issues of female creativity, authority and autonomy set against the backdrop of a generation of women coming of age during one of the most radically shifting times in contemporaryhistory.
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