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Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
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Lady Oracle (original 1976; edition 1998)

by Margaret Atwood

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2,151None3,016 (3.58)132
Member:bookishgardener
Title:Lady Oracle
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Anchor (1998), Edition: 1 Anchor, Paperback
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Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood (1976)

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    She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb (Anonymous user)
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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Definitely not her best work. Though in another review I read that this was one of her earlier novels which may explain why it was so irritating. It just feels like there was no resolution. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
Not sure quite what to say about this one. On one hand, some of it was very witty and lively. But I had no time for Joan's whininess about her weight, relationships, and self worth. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
I adore Margaret Atwood, and so much like other reviewers, it's no surprise that I liked this as well. Double lives, and realizing there are parts of you that even when you run away, you take with you.
  omnia_mutantur | Nov 7, 2013 |
This is the only book by Atwood I've read to date. I suspect its not her best work, but it was still worth a read. ( )
  stacy_chambers | Aug 22, 2013 |
This is not really a review - more a collection of thoughts about this beguiling and bewildering (at times) novel of identity, gender, and the manufacture of stories. I'm not sure I got everything there is to get out of this early Atwood work, but I did enjoy it.

Identity: Atwood plays with notions of identity and self. Some are hidden, others doubled, often misread and misunderstood. Joan Foster, the protagonist, doesn't seem to know herself for much of the book, but she knows that the person she sees reflected by the people around her is not who she is. "But hadn't my life always been double? There was always that shadowy twin, thin when I was fat, fat when I was thin, myself in silvery negative, with dark teeth and shining white pupils glowing in the black sunlight of that other world." (page 246)

Role of women: Joan "fails" in the traditional roles of women - daughter, mistress, wife. But what she fails at is to live up to the traditional notions of what these things are. She's ashamed of her secret role as the author of Gothic romances but she also feels like a fraud as a much-hailed author of feminist poetry. She wants a "normal" life and what is wrong with that? But, also, what IS a normal life?

Politics: This novel is quite funny, especially when Atwood pokes fun at radical politics and the people who espouse whatever radical philosophy is currently in vogue. Nationalism, communism, feminism, Fascism - it's all fair game when so much of it is empty rhetoric and blind allegiance.

Romance: Joan makes a living producing romance novels, the embodiment of traditional ideas of love stories and fairy tales. And she seems to yearn for this kind of dramatic, sweep-you-off-your-feet relationship and is willing to make all sorts of compromises to have even a hint of it ("...he had gone to a lot of trouble to find me. He'd walked at least three blocks in the rain: that meant dedication of a sort." (page 196)) She has a vivid imagination and loves the grand gesture, but also keeps these feelings hidden because they do not conform to the contemporary feminist ideal.

I don't know enough about feminist theory and gender politics to do much of this justice. Lady Oracle can be read quite easily and only as a novel about a woman searching for herself but there are also a lot of layers to be explored. I can see this work as being worthy of a re-read, as well as the spark to a lot of fascinating conversation.

"For a while I wanted to be an opera singer... Unfortunately I couldn't sing. But it always appealed to me: to be able to stand up there in front of everyone and shriek as loud as you could, about hatred and love and rage and despair, scream at the top of your lungs and have it come out music. That would be something." (page 78) ( )
1 vote katiekrug | Apr 13, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Atwoodové román se odehrává v druhé polovině 20. století a politicky odráží zejména existenci západních levicových hnutí. Sama Atwoodová se aktivně hlásí k levici a patří k propagátorům ekologického života. V očích Joan jde ale o bezzubé bojůvky, kterým přes velkolepé ideály chybí konkrétní cíl i prostředky.
 
Bohatý děj doplňuje neodolatelný atwoodovský humor a samozřejmě i ironický feminismus. Její hrdinka se sice motá v začarovaném kruhu, své konání ale reflektuje s dokonalým odstupem: Joan se snaží řídit svůj vlastní život jako život svých romantických románových hrdinek, ale vůbec se jí to nedaří, život se jí vymyká z rukou. Každá další maska je jen komplikací, z níž už není cesty zpět. Snad jen ta schopnost nadhledu ji ještě drží nad vodou. A že se nedočkáme laciného happyendu, jaký by nechyběl v Joaniných románcích, či naopak nějaké konečné tragédie, je nasnadě.
 
Které já však v závěru vítězí, není vůbec jasné. Joan se v Itálii místo pocitu osvobození zmocní paranoia a fikce se životem se jí promíchá natolik, že ve snaze uchopit život do vlastních rukou praští flaškou naprosto nevinného chlápka.
added by _eskarina | editIdnes.cz, Hana Ulmanová (Dec 28, 2009)
 
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I planned my death carefully; unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Faking her own death, Joan Foster flees to an Italian seaside resort there to take stock of her life - and death - so far: a life of multiple identities and transformations, from fat girl to thin, from red hair to mud brown, from London to Toronto, from Polish Count to radical husband to the Royal Porcupine (her 'con-create' poet lover), from the secret writing of gothic romances to life as Canada's 'most distunguished female poet'. Blundering from one adventure to another, each crisis more lurid and extraordinary than the last, our irrepressible heroine is always hilarious and always a survivor - if only just.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385491085, Paperback)

Joan Foster is the bored wife of a myopic ban-the-bomber.  She takes off overnight as Canada's new superpoet, pens lurid gothics on the sly, attracts a blackmailing reporter, skids cheerfully in and out of menacing plots, hair-raising traps, and passionate trysts, and lands dead and well in Terremoto, Italy.  In this remarkable, poetic, and magical novel, Margaret Atwood proves yet again why she is considered to be one of the most important and accomplished writers of our time.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:15 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Joan Foster is the bored wife of a myopic ban-the-bomber. She takes off overnight as Canada's new superpoet, pens lurid gothics on the sly, attracts a blackmailing reporter, skids cheerfully in and out of menacing plots, hair-raising traps, and passionate trysts, and lands dead and well in Terremoto, Italy. In this remarkable, poetic, and magical novel, Margaret Atwood proves yet again why she is considered to be one of the most important and accomplished writers of our time.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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