Kicking against the pricks : Margaret Atwood's art(i)face(s).
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
"Margaret Atwood", claim the Margarets Atwood in a review of their book, Second Words, is not one person, but "a front for a committee" (McCombs, ed. 251). This thesis examines some of the faces of Margaret Atwood's artistry. It is governed by the premise that Atwood's work embodies the subversive strategies of a feminine sextuality. Hers is a (feminine) subversion on every level:: formal, linguistic, historical and thematic. Atwood replies to the phallocentric logos and the phallogocentric "I" by kicking against the pricks. It is a resistance that is both multiple and strategic. Therefore, my feminist post-structuralist approach to Atwood's multiplicities takes as its basis the rhizomatic theory of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattali. Rather than the centered metaphor of the well-wrought urn of textual modernity, the rhizome is an overground and underground metaphor; an identification of a proliferation of roots and shoots that are uncentered and endless. It is a metaphor that is both appropriate and applicable to the form and content of Atwood's work. This thesis, then, focuses on four major rhizomatic threads -- ways of seeing, language, the body, and desire -- in a comprehensive selection of both poetry and prose works. The irreducibility of Atwood's texts to a singular approach demands an equally strategic critical positionality. These readings, therefore, are not necessarily theoretically compatible, but they are definitely not mutually exclusive. Thus, the rhizomatics of this work echoes the contra-dictory complexity of that elusive Atwoodian beast.