The CBC Massey Lectures
Published by: House of Anansi Press Inc
Imprint: House of Anansi Press
Sales Date: 2019-09-03
Published: September 2019
Imprint: House of Anansi Press
Series: The CBC Massey Lectures
Page Count: 248 Pages
Dimensions: 5.00 x 8.00
248 Pages, 5.00 x 8.00 x 0.55 in
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Available in a new edition and with an introduction by Margaret Atwood, Payback delivers a surprising look at the topic of “debt” — a subject that continues to be timely.
Legendary novelist, poet, and essayist Margaret Atwood delivers a surprising look at the topic of “debt” — a subject that continues to be timely during this current period of economic upheaval. In her intelligent and imaginative approach to the subject, Atwood proposes that “debt” is like air — something we take for granted and never think about until things go wrong.
This is not a book about practical debt management or high finance, although it does touch upon those subjects. Rather, it goes far deeper into an investigation of debt as a very old, very central motif in religion, literature, and the structure of human societies. By looking at how debt has informed our thinking from preliterate times to the present day, through the stories we tell to our concepts of “revenge” and “sin” to the way we structure our social relationships, Atwood shows that this idea of what we owe — in other words, “debt” — is possibly built into the human imagination as one of its most dynamic metaphors. In the final section, Atwood touches upon not only our current global financial situation, but also the concept of our “debt to nature” and how our ideas of ownership and debt must be changed if we are to find a new way to interact with our natural environment.
"Ms. Atwood is a witty and astute writer of broad sympathy and wide-ranging curiosity, and the prose of the book, at once commonsensical and counterintuitive, bristles with insight and implication." A.O. Scott, New York Times
Payback is a delightfully engaging, smart, funny, clever, and terrifying analysis of the role debt plays in our culture, our consciousness, our economy, our ecology, and, if Atwood is right, our future. Washington Post
Witty, acutely argued, and almost freakishly prescient . . . as amusing as it is unsettling. Chicago Tribune
A fascinating, freewheeling examination of ideas of debt, balance and revenge in history, society, and literature — Atwood has again struck upon our most current anxieties. Times of London
A celebrated novelist, poet, and critic, Atwood has combined rigorous analysis, wide-ranging erudition, and a beguilingly playful imagination to produce the most probing and thought-stirring commentary on the financial crisis to date. New York Review of Books
Elegant and erudite . . . as one would expect from a novelist of Ms. Atwood’s calibre, the phrasing is polished and the metaphors striking. Economist.com
An extraordinarily vibrant Massey Lecture on debt, how it plays a motor force in much literature, in our own lives, and in the machinations of the crowd we elect to govern us. Maclean’s
In Payback, Atwood freely mixes autobiography, literary criticism, and anthropology in an examination of debt as a concept deeply rooted in human — and even, in some cases, animal — behaviour . . . Building an argument that abounds with literary examples . . . Atwood entertainingly and often wryly advances the familiar thesis that what goes around comes around. Toronto Star
[Payback is] a demonstration of Atwood’s ability to evoke in memorable detail our vanished cultural past, and to examine both past and present in the form of language. Writing in this mode, she’s never off her game. National Post