09 January, 2017

MONDAY TRAVELS: Death by Landscape by Margaret Atwood

Happy Monday friends! If you remember last Monday, I mentioned that we are expanding our Monday meetings a little and instead of simply reading poems, from now on every Monday we will be traveling to a new country and exploring both poetry and prose of that country!

So today we are in Canada and we will explore:


Canadian writer Margaret Atwood:
Margaret Eleanor Atwood,  (born November 18, 1939) is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She is a winner of the  AwArthur C. Clarke and Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, winning once, and has been a finalist for the Governor General's Award several times, winning twice. In 2001, she was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame She is also a founder of the Writers' Trust of Canada, a non-profit literary organization that seeks to encourage Canada's writing community. Among innumerable contributions to Canadian literature, she was a founding trustee of the Griffin Poetry Prize.


 Death by Landscape is a short story where a woman named Lois, a widowed mother, who displays her art collection on the walls of her new waterfront apartment. She spends time admiring the paintings, yet they do not fill her with peace. On the contrary, the paintings show landscapes that make her very uneasy. Lois fears the depiction of the wilderness.

She recalls her summers at Camp Manitou, which she experienced from the ages of nine to thirteen. She remembers the traditions associated with her camp experience. She can still sing the words to the songs and remember the spunky counselors. There she and her best friend Lucy, who seems to have grown up into a young lady spend their summer together, before a tragic accident happens and Lucy disappears in the wilderness.


1. Killer nature - In University I had a Canadian literature class where a Canadian born professor introduced us to literary works of Canadian writers and he said one very interesting idea that what all Canadian novels, novellas, poems and so on have in common - is the theme of nature and wilderness being a killer. You see only a little part of Canada is inhabitant by people and the biggest part is still called the wilderness. So in old times, if a person was to be banished or punished they would simply set them to the wilderness to basically die. So in this particular short story, when Lucy disappears no one is kind of surprised that she simply got lost in the woods.

 2. Desperation and search - after Lucy disappears when they are thirteen years old, through out her entire life Lois keeps buying these painting of landscapes that were merely painted by Canadian painters group called 'Group of Seven'. They primarily painted only Canadian wilderness and landscapes and Lois believed that until she will buy these painting Lucy will never die and keep on living through them. I really liked this aspect of the story, it shows how empty and guilty Lois really feels. 


I enjoyed this story immensely. I remember reading it my second year of University and I cannot shake it off till this day. This is one of those stories that will stay with you and from time to time you will think about it when you go for a walk in the woods or drive to the nature. I enjoyed the fact that Canadian literature has this one piece that will always combine them. And even in children books for example Anne from Green Gables you can also find passages that says you can get lost in nature and in the woods and wilderness is not to be messed around with. 

Another thing that is fascinating to me is the concept of Lois buying the landscape paintings to keep Lucy alive. As if one day she will find Lucy in one of them. I understand that it's mostly creepy but to me its also rather romantic. 

So here you my friends, from the bottom of my heart I really would suggest you to read this short story it's amazing. And if you are up for it also check out other world by Canadian writers. Because Canada really did give two wonderful things to the world - Books and Ryan Gosling!

See you next Monday!