Since her first book of poems, Double Persephone (1961), mythology has played a major role in Margaret Atwood’s oeuvre. Renowned world-wide for the chilling prescience of her startling novel The Handmaid’s Tale, the writer has revisited the role of women in classical myth, deconstructing it and transforming it into her own stories, in which female characters are often the protagonists and the future is bleak. What do they reveal to us?
Margaret Atwood will commence with myths – which like legends and fairy tales have fascinated her since childhood – to explore the roots of this ongoing interest and how it has informed her own creativity in numerous disciplines over six decades of remarkable publication, where she has investigated gender, sexuality, language, identity, belief, social orders, the ecological and our relationship to animals. In this talk moderated by Gareth Evans, writer and curator at Whitechapel Gallery, Atwood will explain why she resists the label of ‘feminist’ applied to her books – she prefers to think of them as being ‘social realist’ works. Similarly, she thinks of her stories as belonging to speculative, not science fiction.