Synopses & Reviews
Collected here, the Massey Lectures from legendary novelist Margaret Atwood investigate the highly topical subject of debt. She doesnt talk about high finance or managing money; instead, she goes far deeper to explore debt as an ancient and 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, from the stories we tell of revenge and sin to the way we order social relationships, Atwood argues that the idea of what we owe may well be built into the human imagination as one of its most dynamic metaphors. Her final lecture addresses the notion of a debt to nature and the need to find new ways of interacting with the natural world before it is too late.
"Atwood's book is a weird but wonderful mlange of personal reminiscences, literary walkabout, moral preachment, timely political argument, economic history and theological query, all bound together with wry wit and careful though casual-seeming research. 'Every debt comes with a date on which payment is due,' Atwood observes on this conversational stroll, from the homely and familiar 'notion of fairness' and 'notion of equivalent values' in Kingsley's Water Babies to the thornier connection between debt and sin, memory and redemption in Aeschylus's Eumenides. 'Any debt involves a story line,' Atwood points out as she leads the reader into 'the nineteenth century [when] debt as plot really rages through the fictional pages,' and ruin is financial for men, but sexual for women. Things get even darker on 'the shadow side' where 'the nastier forms of debt and credit' debtors' prisons, loan sharks and rebellions abide. Atwood is encyclopedic in her range, following threads wherever they lead credit cards and computer programs, Sin Eaters, Saint Nicholas, Star Trek, the history of pawnshops and of taxation, Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty and Dante's Divine Comedy, Christ and Faust and a consistently captivating storyteller." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)