A novel with a major, very creepy power Very different from her latter books, The Edible Woman is about the destructive power of man woman relationships and it takes place in a world of robotic emotions and mechanical compulsions not too far off from the Victorian variety The novel, a true avantgarde sociosexual depiction, borrows its demonic tone from Hawthorne, its cinematography from Cronenberg, its absurdism from David Lynch Also, it contains all the brilliance pseudo silliness of Beckett Gender role reversal is perhaps the outstanding theme here In The Edible Woman, bearded men act like giant babies, a woman can be metaphorically literally eaten, and all the young men and women are desperate and yearning to fill up their counterparts role according to society and history Like a J.G Ballard yarn of quiet hysteria and a deep, scathing discomfort hard to peg this one down without so many similes , Woman is satire supreme gone awry As well as top notch topsy turvy. Marian Is Determined To Be Ordinary She Lays Her Head Gently On The Shoulder Of Her Serious Fianc And Quietly Awaits Marriage But She Didn T Count On An Inner Rebellion That Would Rock Her Stable Routine, And Her Digestion Marriage A La Mode, Marian Discovers, Is Something She Literally Can T Stomach The Edible Woman Is A Funny, Engaging Novel About Emotional Cannibalism, Men And Women, And The Desire To Be Consumed Margaret Atwood s prescient first novel still offers lots to chew onMarian, a 20 something woman in 1960s Toronto, gets engaged to her dull but respectable lawyer boyfriend, Peter, then soon begins losing her appetite for food This causes problems leading up to the wedding, as Marian suffers a serious identity crisis Perhaps she doesn t want to submit to this marriage, after all.This was Margaret Atwood s first novel, and besides the funny and insightful writing, the book was way ahead of its time.Atwood wrote it in the early to mid 60s, and because of a publishing snafu it wasn t published until 1969 Still, this was long before anorexia nervosa was a common disorder Marian s roommate, Ainslie, wants to have a baby out of wedlock, which was far less of an acceptable option then than it became later And the book s implicit critique of Marian s expected life go to school to find a husband, work until you get married and or have a child was seen as an outgrowth of feminism, even though Atwood, in a later introduction, admits she wrote it before the movement.I love how Atwood carefully sets up Marian s condition She works at a marketing research firm, so she s constantly aware of the rampant consumerism around her Food metaphors abound in the early chapters Marian s office company is layered like an ice cream sandwich, with the three floors the upper crust, the lower crust, and our department, the gooey layer in the middle Further, the humidity in the office is unbearable The air conditioning system, I saw, had failed again, though since it is merely a fan which revolves in the centre of the ceiling, stirring the air around like a spoon in soup, it makes little difference whether it is going or not One of the cleverest moves was switching the POV, once Marian starts becoming unstable, from first person to third person It s as if Marian begins viewing what s happening to her at a remove She s alienated from herself.And the secondary characters are all highly amusing, from the forthright Ainslie to Marian s co workers dubbed the office virgins, all sporting dyed blonde hair to Duncan, a boyish grad student who s everything Peter isn t The literary digressions by Duncan and his academic roommates might seem commonplace today psychosexual interpretations of Alice In Wonderland, etc think of the eating metaphors in it back then they must have been incredibly refreshing.I also like wondering if Duncan is real or a figment of Marian s imagination Atwood has some difficulty handling the passage of time, and there s not much about Marian s family.But the look at WASPy, straight laced 1960s era Toronto is fascinating one scene in which two unmarried people try to find a hotel to have sex in is hilarious And the book holds up incredibly well There are still lots of Marians and Peters out there, and society s obsession with food, consumption and the glamorization of the ideal life has grown exponentially over nearly 50 years.A brilliant fictional debut by a writer who would go on to become one of the most influential and prolific voices of her generation. I decided to re read this because its white spine always calls my attention next to the black spines of Austen and Bront My review from two and a half years ago, to paraphrase Talking Heads, seems to talk a lot but not say anything The Edible Woman was Atwood s first novel, and thus I must treat it like a first novel Atwood was twenty six when she wrote this, and it reads like it The novel presents itself as a tale of a women who is faced with the awful prospect of marriage The thought of her imminent nuptials causes Marian, our protagonist, to start viewing foods as living entities It first starts with meat, Marian can only see the animal it once was on her plate Then it becomes far worse She cannot eat carrots because she can only imagine the great pain it must have caused them to be ripped from the ground She peers into a boiled egg and all she sees is a yellow eye staring back at her very Bataille For Marian, eating any food at all becomes a sort of cannibalism.However, I wish that this is what the novel actually is The actual edible woman part of The Edible Woman does not happen until roughly two thirds into the novel Instead, most of this novel is just us following Marian as she goes to work, or visits to the launderette, or goes from door to door asking people to fill out surveys It can get boring and it puts you in the strange position of actually wanting Marian to hurry up and have her mental breakdown already Thankfully Atwood created the character of Ainsley, Marian s flatmate, who decides that she wants to have a baby but only so she can raise it herself away from the damaging influence of a father figure Due to these kind of themes throughout the novel, Atwood has referred to the book as a proto feminist work I suppose Ainsley could be seen as a precursor to Val from Marilyn French s The Women s Room The most disappointing aspect of this novel however is where it ends up going I cannot discuss this part in detail as it would be a spoiler but, for those who have read it, I detest Duncan.So, after my re read I ve decided to take a star away from my original review It is now a two star novel, meaning it s alright but I don t recommend unless you re an Atwood completest.Original review from 3 1 15Well this is a novel that is fecund with originality I really enjoyed this Basically imagine if The Bell Jar was actually good and readable, then you d have this I really admire Atwood s decision to switch between third and first person narration It s very clever and works marvellously In fact this whole novel is very clever and marvellous What a wonderful way to begin my YearofAtwood. This story is perhaps the most pathological, dystopian and absurd I ve ever read I try to leave my profession as a psychiatrist hidden and behind, I know, impossible thing and I would like to evaluate with the eyes of an average, normal person this book, as happened to me, that not wanting to take this particular work in the library, I chose it because it was struck by the cover.The plot is nothing complicated, rather, complete monotony We will meet Mariam, a very quiet girl but a little weird I swear, from the initial descriptions made, it looked like a high functioning autistic girl She works for a market survey company, shares an apartment with a friend, and survives with very few social relationships, mostly fragile, fragmented and somewhat superficial Marian, even in her typicality, is not at all stupid or superficial, and this is where, as we will see, a real psychotic obsession will be inserted that will push her to aberrant, tragic and distressing situations.The obsession of not eating because otherwise she will risk to be eaten by the colleagues and the few friends Peter, with his request to marry her, opens the Pandora s box, unfortunately giving life to a real psychiatric life to Mariam.Why did I give such a low rating because the plot, will make your skin crawl, is ambiguous to its maximum power to make you doubt that it is set in a dystopian world, but no, we are in Canada, I assume in the 90s.The plot is divided into three parts, the first, a cosmic bothering., here I really risked to give up the book, nothing special happens but this total apathy of all the characters all but I say all, from the first part of the book up to the third, are painful to life, without effective brio desire, to know with interest and curiosity and friends, colleagues or those who meet in life.All characters who could be pulled out from a day center for psychiatric rehabilitation, so dear GR readers, it is not that there is to stay relaxed and happy in the face of an expectation of such, men and women totally detached from themselves and hateful This you will read, perhaps the only one who is saved a little is Duncan kind of lover friend to her , but unfortunately unable to have an incisiveness or support on the tragedy of Mariam paradoxically we will see in the first and second part of the book as a dull woman, manipulated by everyone about everything and everything, devoid of precise desires, but it is precisely during her obsession that the real Mariam desperately tries to know herself, asking questions to herself and desperately tries to get out of that sick vortex that prevents her from living in all senses., so the plot s clue will arrive at the end only , in the third part Do you want to hurt yourselves then read this novel, it is a sick story, totally sick.I m surprised that Atwood wrote this story as a debut novel, you will no longer feel this redundant distorted vision of all reality, almost like a psychiatric manual , in her other works, for sue the ones that I have read..Do you know why I do not recommend it because it is inconclusive, because Mariamwill be able to get out Questa storia forse la piu patologia, distopica e assurda che abbia mai letto..cerco di lasciarmi alle spalle la mia professione di medico psichiatra, lo so, cosa impossibile e vorrei valutare con gli occhi di una persona normalissima questo libro, come successo a me, che non volendo assolutamente prendere in biblioteca questa particolare opera, l ho comunque scelta perch folgorata dalla copertina.La trama non nulla di complicato,anzi, monotonia completa, conosceremo Mariam, una ragazza tranquillissima ma un tantino stramba giuro, dalle descrizioni iniziali fatte, sembrava un autismo ad alta funzionalit lavora per una societ di indagini di mercato, condivide un appartamento con una amica e sopravvive con pochissime relazioni sociali, per lo piu fragili, frammentate e alquanto superficiali Marian, pur nella sua tipicit , non assolutamente ne stupida ne scema o superficiale, ed qui che come poi vedremo, si innester un vera ossessione psicotica che la spinger a situazioni aberranti, tragicomiche e laceranti L ossessione di non mangiare perch in caso contrario rischia di essere mangiata dalle colleghe e dai pochi amici Peter, con la sua richiesta di sposarla, apre il vaso di Pandora, dando vita purtroppo ad un vero vivere psichiatrico di Mariam.Perch ho dato una valutazione cos bassa perch la storia vi far accapponare la pelle, ambigua alla sua massima potenza tanto da farvi venire il dubbio che sia ambientata in un mondo distopico, invece no, siamo in Canada, presumo negli anni 90.La trama divisa in due parti, la prima, una balla cosmica qui ho proprio rischiato di abbandonare il libro, nulla di particolare accade se non questa totale apaticit di tutti i personaggi, tutti ma dico tutti, dalla prima parte del libro sino alla terza, sono dolenti alla vita, senza brio effettivo a conoscere con piu interesse e curiosit e desiderio amici, colleghi o chi si incontra nella vita.Tutti personaggi che si potrebbero tirare fuori da centri diurni per la riabilitazione psichiatrica, quindi cari lettori GR, non che c da stare rilassati e contenti di fronte ad una aspettativa del genere, uomini e donne totalmente avulse su loro stessi e odiosi questo leggerete, forse l unico che si salva un filino Duncan, ma purtroppo incapace ad avere una incisivit o supporto sulla tragedia di Mariam paradossalmente la vedremo nella prima e seconda parte del libro come una donna scialba, manipolata da tutti su tutto e per ogni cosa, priva di desideri precisiE proprio durante la sua Ossessione che la vera Mariam tenta e cerca disperatamente di conoscere se stessa, si pone delle domande e cerca disperatamente di uscire da quel vortice malato che le impedisce di vivere in tutti i sensi.Volete farvi del male allora leggete questo romanzo, una storia malata, totalmente malata.Mi sorprende che la Atwood abbia scritto questa storia come romanzo d esordio, non si percepir piu questa ridondante visione distorta di tutta la realt , quasi da manuale psichiatrico , nelle altre sue opere che ho letto.lo sapete perch ve lo sconsiglio perch inconcludente, perch Mariamriuscir ad uscirne The first book I read by Margaret Atwood in the mid eighties and the one that made me a fan I had never read anything quite like it before and I was hooked. Written just before the founding of NOW, The Edible Woman is as relevant today as it was in 1965 The novel s protagonist, Marian, has recently graduated from college and is working for a public opinion company She is dating a man, Peter, who everyone thinks is perfect Once engaged Marian begins to have trouble eating As she is consumed by her relationship, she stops being able to consume food In the first sex scene in The Edible Woman, which is rich in messages and metaphors, Peter decides he wants to have sex in the bathtub Marian agrees, but isn t thrilled She thinks Peter is attempting to act out things he read about Sex in the bathtub, she decides, is a scene from a murder mystery he read She notes but wouldn t that the scene Peter read about rather be someone drowned in the bathtub A woman In the end, Marian breaks her engagement and tries to feed Peter a cake she made to look like herself, claiming that he wants to devour her There is a clear feminist voice throughout the story and the message is not as simple as marriage consumes women Marian decides that her independence is important than a marriage to someone who does not let her be an individual The intersection between Marian s sexuality and eating habits are salient in today s popular culture While The Edible Woman was written before eating disorders were discussed, they are now a big part of our culture The relationship between food and sexuality is even fodder for situation comedy Last night I watched a rerun of Friends in which Monica and Rachel show Chandler how to deal with being dumped the women way They hand him soy milk ice cream and tell him that you have to eat healthy ice cream when heartache happens frequently When he gets really depressed they break out the full fat Ben and Jerry s The message is clear when women are upset, it affects the way they eat Unlike Monica and Rachel, who binge eat when they are upset, Marian responses to problems in her relationship by starving herself Why did she stop eating Does she want to starve the dependent person she had become While in 1965 Atwood used the idea of food and Marian s self imposed starvation as a metaphor, today the idea of a women starving herself as a relationship deteriorates is sadly a clich. before Ohhh this book is like my favorite hoodie threadbare and falling apart but so so soft and comfy, with all those little stains and patches as sweet reminders of long ago Love love love love this bookafter Well yes, I do love this book as much as ever, but I was actually kind of surprised at how different it was from the last time I read it, oh, five or six years ago Here are some reflections in list form, because I m feeling lazy 1 I am still terribly and utterly in love with Duncan, who was I believe my very first literary crush, when I was like fifteen But some of the magic is gone this time He s gotten a little clich d with over reading, I guess I ve easily read this ten times 2 I was really surprised how steeped in fifties mentality and early feminist theory it was Marian has to quit her job when they find out she s getting married, for example, and this is accepted placidly as normal Huh 3 While the story is totally awesome and the characters are incredibly great, the most important element for me of any Margaret Atwood book is always the stunning stunning language, which was not so much on display here This was I m pretty sure her first published novel, but she was a poet before that, and so it s not like she didn t already know how to turn like the most beautiful phrases ever 4 The whole not eating thing Gosh, I d remembered it being like the whole book, this agonizing descent, food item by food item, into essential starvation, but actually she doesn t even stop eating meat until like a third of the way through the book 5 Also, I remembered being totally on Marian s side when she goes sort of crazy, but this time she really did seem a bit hysterical, a bit less a victim of oppressive and destabilizing circumstances.6 Also WTF, I was so bummed that minor spoiler, I guess, if you care Ainslie wound up deciding to get married after all even trying to get Len to marry her Blaugh Again, though, this was written in, what, the mid fifties or early sixties So what do I know 7 It made me really upset to realize, about halfway through, that I am older than these characters If not all of them, at least most I don t really feel like going into why this was so disconcerting, but it was, staggeringly. The Edible Woman , Margaret Atwood s debut novel, is a slightly topsy turvy inverted fairytale, with shades of Mad Men in its focus on consumer culture and the stifling social conventions of the mid Sixties Published in 1969 but written a few years earlier, Atwood s sly humour elevates this story of one woman s identity crisis amid the restrictive expectations placed on young women of the time marriage and babies, in that order In some ways this novel is like a time capsule from a lost era we are no longer scandalised by unwed mothers or expect women to quit their jobs upon marrying but there s still plenty of relevance in the ways women are packaged for consumption, and the pressure to conform Plus, Atwood s writing remains fresh and very readable.Written 20 years before the dystopian The Handmaid s Tale, it s interesting to compare the two novels both show women confined to roles as baby making machines, Stepford wives or bureaucratic matrons enforcing the status quo But The Edible Woman is fun, jaunty even, a comedy of manners that relies on wit and charm to get its satirical point across with some mild surrealism thrown in Later, The Handmaid s Tale would dispense with humour altogether, to present its nightmare scenario as a plausible outgrowth of the faintly absurd social s displayed here I m looking forward to seeing where Atwood takes the theme next in The Testaments.Reading The Edible Woman, it s clear that Atwood has been from the beginning a keen observer of the societal constraints placed on women In this debut, her barbs are sort of gently pointed rather than piercing, but it s very far from lightweight Sardonic insights served with a wink and a pink swirl of buttercream icing 4 stars. What an unusual story Marian is newly engaged and then discovers she can t eat certain foods, first meats and then almost everything else What is her subconscious trying to tell her Atwood is a writer who amazes me every time I read her it really is hard to categorize her writing Her writing style on the other hand is exquisite, intelligent and witty at times The main theme of this book is relationships and how they can transform you I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot than I did the second The second half seemed a bit too rushed to me.One thing I found interesting was how different things were in the 1960s, when this book was written There is absolutely no way that a woman conducting door to door surveys would even consider going into a male survey participant s home these days Also, feminism has changed the ways in which women think for example, after marriage, a woman isn t expected to quit her job and stay home Also, having a child out of marriage isn t considered terrible any either.
Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master s degree from Radcliffe College.Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees She is the author of than thirty five volumes of po
- 310 pages
- The Edible Woman
- Margaret Atwood
- 13 May 2017 Margaret Atwood