“Underskin Journals of Susanna Moodie”: Atwood Editing Atwood


“Husband, in Retrospect” is one of the unpublished poems that can be found among Margaret Atwood’s drafts and revisions of The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970) at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. “Husband, in Retrospect” provides insight into Atwood’s creative process during her work on the Journals, a poetic reimagining of Canadian pioneer Susanna Moodie’s memoirs. In her exploration of the pioneer’s psychological experience, Atwood focuses on what she perceived to be the earlier writer’s ambivalence about her new country. We examine “Husband, in Retrospect,” as well as its removal from the collection, to demonstrate that in constructing this unspoken narrative, Atwood’s project does not aim to resolve but to expand on existing fissures and moments of doubleness in Moodie’s texts. Atwood’s editing and her final exclusion of the poem point explicitly to her decision to avoid resolving moments of conflict in the narrative and for her characters.

This article ““Underskin Journals of Susanna Moodie”: Atwood Editing Atwood” originally appeared in Gendering the Archive. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 217 (Summer 2013): 105-23.

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