Arts & Life
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/10/2008 (4284 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
After all, the past few weeks have seen the world's markets suffer their greatest meltdown in decades -- and the shadow of debt is crippling North American consumers.
But Atwood's Massey Lecture Series was conceived some three years ago, she told a packed house at Pantages Theatre Friday night.
"People have asked me -- could you see it coming?" she said. "And I'd say, 'Yes, I could, but I couldn't see when.'"
The Massey Lectures have been commissioned by CBC Radio annually since 1961, giving contemporary thinkers a chance to address modern-day issues. Atwood's lectures have already been published by Anansi Press (Payback; Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth) as she takes its message across Canada.
The diminutive author looked like a rare bird on stage, a mass of grey curls on her head, colourful autumn scarf over her shoulders, peering over her glasses with a twinkle in her eye as she fired off another clever line.
Her lecture for the evening -- Debt as Plot -- was that fiction has been driven for centuries by the theme of debt, and she proceeded to deconstruct everything from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol to George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss.
"When I was young, I thought the 19th-century novel was driven by love,"
Atwood said. But now she sees Emily Bronte's tormented hero Heathcliff through different eyes, pointing out that he wreaks his revenge by buying the big manor, Wuthering Heights.
Why no 20th-century novels in this lecture? one audience member later asked.
Simple answer, the bestselling author replied: "Copyright laws."
It was a talk geared to English majors, but wide-ranging enough to include all, from its clever dissection of Ebenezer Scrooge's conversion to consumerism to an amusing comparison of what "ruin" means in 19th-century literature (for men it's financial; for women, it's sexual.
Lecture 1 called Ancient Balances was delivered in St. Johns last Sunday; No. 2 in Vancouver Oct. 15 was called Debt and Sin. Winnipeg got lecture 3, Debt as Plot. Atwood delivers The Shadow Side in Montreal Oct. 20 and concludes the series Nov. 1 in Toronto with 'Payback.'
U of W president Lloyd Axworthy and author Margaret Sweatman introduced Atwood. The university brought the Massey Lecture to Winnipeg.
The entire series will be broadcast on CBC radio Nov. 10 - Nov. 14 on Ideas.
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