Atwood’s Reinventions: So Many Atwoods


  • Coral Ann Howells University of Reading / University of London



later Atwood, fiction post-2000, dystopia, popular fiction, digital technology, MaddAddam, The Testaments


In The Malahat Review (1977), Canadian critic Robert Fulford described Margaret Atwood as “endlessly Protean,” predicting “There are many more Atwoods to come.” Now at eighty, over forty years later, Atwood is an international literary celebrity with more than fifty books to her credit and translated into more than forty languages. This essay focuses on the later Atwood and her apparent reinvention since 2000, where we have seen a marked shift away from realistic fiction towards popular fiction genres, especially dystopias and graphic novels. Atwood has also become increasingly engaged with digital technology as creative writer and cultural critic. As this reading of her post-2000 fiction through her extensive back catalogue across five decades will show, these developments represent a new synthesis of her perennial social, ethical and environmental concerns, refigured through new narrative possibilities as she reaches out to an ever-widening readership, astutely recognising “the need for literary culture to keep up with the times.”


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Author Biography

Coral Ann Howells, University of Reading / University of London

Coral Ann Howells is Professor Emerita, University of Reading and Senior Research Fellow, Institute of English Studies, University of London. She has published widely on contemporary Canadian fiction, especially writing by women. Her publications include Private and Fictional Words: Canadian Women Novelists of the 1970s and 80s ((1987), Margaret Atwood (1996, 2005), Alice Munro (1998), and Contemporary Canadian Women’s Fiction: Refiguring Identities (2003). She edited  the Cambridge Companion to Margaret Atwood (2006), co-edited with Eva-Marie Kroller the Cambridge History of Canadian Literature (2009) and is co-editor of the final volume of the Oxford History of the Novel in English (2017). Her revised edition of the Cambridge Companion to Margaret Atwood will be published early 2020. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.


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How to Cite

Howells, C. A. (2020). Atwood’s Reinventions: So Many Atwoods. ELOPE: English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries, 17(1), 15–28.