A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature
McClelland & Stewart, Paperback, 9780771008726, 320pp.
Publication Date: March 23, 2004
When first published in 1972, Survival was considered the most startling book ever written about Canadian literature. Since then, it has continued to be read and taught, and it continues to shape the way Canadians look at themselves. Distinguished, provocative, and written in effervescent, compulsively readable prose, Survival is simultaneously a book of criticism, a manifesto, and a collection of personal and subversive remarks. Margaret Atwood begins by asking: “What have been the central preoccupations of our poetry and fiction?” Her answer is “survival and victims.”
Atwood applies this thesis in twelve brilliant, witty, and impassioned chapters; from Moodie to MacLennan to Blais, from Pratt to Purdy to Gibson, she lights up familiar books in wholly new perspectives.
It’s a terrific book, enraging, alive–and I wish someone would give it to every continentalist in the Cabinet and every smug academic in all the cosy common rooms across this colonized land.”
–Christina Newman, Maclean’s
“Survival is a fine example of what happens when a first-rate intelligence takes on a task usually carried out by literary morons.”
–George Woodcock, Vancouver Sun
“…the most important book that has come out of this country.”
–Phyllis Grosskurth, Globe and Mail