Canadian literature, which has been existing for about two centuries, was considered a relatively young compared with the West European and American literature. It experienced a difficult but fruitful period. The national literary Canadian base was missing before the mid-twentieth century; the work of individual writers could not be regarded as a single literary tradition at long distance between them. Today, the Canadian cultural identity, embodied in literature, reflects the old dialogue with the new focus on tradition and reinterpretation: North American literature receptive to other cultures, and thus is characterized by deliberate isolationism.
A notable phenomenon in the literary process of modern Canada is creativity of Margaret Atwood. The writer has received worldwide fame as the spokeswoman of the female theme, the feminist movement in the Canadian literature that aroused the interest of foreign literary critics and led to extensive study of her works.
Of particular interest is the literary hero in Margaret Atwood’s works that embodies both general trends and features of the hero of contemporary Canadian literature. Her hero is a strong woman who seeks to overcome alienation and find her own sources, who can feel a sharper and more emotional contradiction of being and her soul, whose inner world sublimates signs of individual and national specificity of human consciousness of the late twentieth century. This is the person, immersed in inner fight with oneself, a carrier of age national values and a symbol of changes of contemporary Canadian society. In the center of Margaret Atwood’s novels there is the fate of women and women’s perception of the world; images that help the writer realize universal problems for the Canadian reality: national consciousness and creative writing.
Margaret Atwood is the author, who echoes with the key modes of existential ethics. The writer asserts the existence of the grand symbol that is the basis of any distinctive dynamic culture and defines its further development. For Canada, this symbol was survival that was always understood as the physical survival in the harsh climatic conditions, and then – as a confrontation between the economic and cultural pressure with more developed countries. The tragic struggle of a Canadian citizen with formidable forces of nature at an earlier stage, and today with the civilization, Atwood associated with the American way of life, has given birth to the literary hero-victim, a resident of Canada in its complex relationship with the United States – a symbol of totalitarianism.
Canadian literature, which has been existing for about two centuries, was considered a relatively young compared with the West European and American literature. It experienced a difficult but fruitful period.