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Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008 CBC Massey Lectures) by Margaret Atwood - Paperback - First Edition - October 2008 - from Books of the World (SKU: RWARE0000003230)

Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008 CBC Massey Lectures)

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Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008 CBC Massey Lectures)

by Margaret Atwood

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About This Item

Toronto: House of Anansi Press, October 2008. Trade Paperback. Second printing. New. Pristine inside and out. No remainder mark. Not damaged. 230 pages.

Collected here, the Massey Lectures from novelist Margaret Atwood investigate the subject of debt. She doesn't 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.


Includes bibliographical references (p. 215-219) and index.


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On Apr 23 2014, a reader said:
Precision and zest are two pretty good defining terms for any writing Margaret Atwood lays her hand to. And irony, and intelligence: those virtues, as Hitchens remarks, we are so much warned against. Irony layers her language: one of her poem collections is called YOU ARE HAPPY; one of her most moving poems is called “Last Day”. The quick vitality, her points that form themselves a shade faster than we expect, her boomerang use of current phrases—all these give Atwood’s artistry a contrarian side. In PAYBACK: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (Anansi, 2008), the topic leaps off the ledger page and Atwood demonstrates its fiscal, emotional, sacrificial and literary facets as one of the conditions of our lives, as our great imaginary construct and as a recurring topic of our imaginative writing. It’s an ideal subject for Atwood to raise her eyebrow over, and in two hundred rapid pages we get Euripides, Eric Berne, Madame Defarge, Solon, the daughter of Jephthah, gelada monkeys, the Bedoneby sisters, Shylock (of course), Faustus (of course) and Scrooge (Original, Lite and Nouveau)—and an exceedingly interesting bibliography of current ecology websites. How much more shadowy can you get, Atwood has her reader ask, four chapters in: “Quite a lot more, because it’s shadowiest just before it gets even shadowier. But never mind, I’m saving the hopeful stuff for the end of the book. Just like Pandora.” Atwood as contrarian? In the fifth and final chapter: “I’ll try to make this as painless as possible. No, on second thought, I won’t do that: because if it were painless, it wouldn’t be about payback, would it?” Brava.


Books of the World US (US)
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Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008 CBC Massey Lectures)
Margaret Atwood
Trade Paperback
Book condition
New New
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House of Anansi Press
Place of Publication
Date published
October 2008
debt, economics, finance, literary studies, anthropology, ethnology, history, sociology, cultural, social, political economy, economic history
Bookseller catalogs
History; Economics;

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remainder mark
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trade paperback
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