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Atwood, Margaret.

Circle Game, The.


Inscribed By Atwood
Michael Ondaatje
Atwood, Margaret. The Circle Game. Toronto: Contact Press, (1966).
8vo.; white printed wrappers; spine and edges lightly browned. In a specially made cloth slipcase.
First edition of the Governor General's Award-winning book that launched Atwood's career; 200 copies, the entire edition.
A presentation copy, inscribed by Michael Ondaatje as a Christmas gift in 1966-the year of publication-and later by Atwood. Ondaatje's inscription, on the first blank, reads: Tom - Merry Christmas 1966 -Mike and Kim. Atwood's, on the title page, reads: For Tom Marshall in Kingston  Oct. 14 1971 Margaret Atwood. Five years later, Marshall, a fellow Canadian poet, would write of her in an issue of the Malahat Review dedicated to her work that she was then "young enough for us to suppose that her best work is in the future," and indeed it was. The Circle Game contains Atwood's most celebrated and famous poems, and many of the themes she would later develop in her novels are present in these early poems. In poems such as "The City Planners" and "Camera," Atwood writes of the undercurrent of uncertainty that complicates the modern world, and of the struggle to redefine intimacy and connect with other human beings amidst the rapid growth of technology. On the heels of the success of The Circle Game, Atwood published three more collections of poetry in quick succession: The Animals in That Country (1968), Procedures for Underground (1970) and The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970). Though her popular novel The Edible Woman appeared in 1970, The Handmaid's Tale (1983) for which she won a second GGA, as well as the acclaimed The Robber Bride (1994) and Alias Grace (1996), were still to come, as was her eye-opening Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature.  
Born in Ottowa in 1939, Margaret Atwood is one of Canada's most prolific and versatile female authors. Though most famous for her works of fiction, she has published thirteen books of poetry, of which The Circle Game is the second. Patricia Stone notes that "Atwood's first poetry emerged in the 1950s when she, a teenager, had no inkling of modern poetry," and quotes her as follows:
In high school we did not study any Canadian poets; we studied dead English people. But there were a lot of people around my age who were coming into it, who had begun to write. There were people on the west coast and people here [Toronto] in the coffee-shop movement; there was that kind of public reading going on... It was such a small community.... Something wiggled on one side of it and those on the other side felt the ripple. (
Feminist issues dominate her works of fiction, which contain strong, complex, and often controversial female protagonists. The societal and cultural roles women have played over time, either by choice or by force, are examined by Atwood in these seminal works, set in both literal historical landscapes and imagined future dystopias. Atwood has also written several books designed for younger audiences, as well as six works of non-fiction, with topics that range from literary criticism to social history.
Atwood completed her undergraduate work at Victoria College at the University of Toronto, received a master's degree from Radcliffe College, and has since received numerous honorary degrees from universities in Canada, as well as one from Oxford University in England. Throughout her career, she has been honored with a multitude of prestigious literary awards, most notably the Booker Prize, the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature, The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, Le Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and the London Literary Prize, for which she was the very first recipient.    

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