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Volume 39, Number 2 (2014)

Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy: Postmodernism, Apocalypse, and Rapture

June 25, 2015


Who sees in Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy is fairly clear; who tells is trickier. In a subtle move at the end of the novel MaddAddam, Atwood gives the entire narration to the Crakers—either through compilation or through narration itself.  Mirroring the palindrome that is its title, Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy subtly plays a trick on its readers: its ending is its beginning, making Oryx and Crake aesthetically the later text (written at a later time). The ending of MaddAddam then sends us back to Oryx and Crake not only for its narrative complexities, but for the seeds of our apocalypse. Although the roads to apocalypse are many, the driving force behind the many worthy apocalyptic causes in this trilogy is the once-subversive postmodernism, now co-opted by corporate ends. Contrary to the plethora of reassurances that “it will be fine tomorrow,” the trilogy leaves little hope within the parameters of its narrative.  As dramatized in Atwood’s Payback, any hope is left to the reader who must then piece through the fragments and ruins in order to stave off an apocalypse not quite yet come.  Indeed, this trilogy could easily be seen as The Waste Land of the 21st century.