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Volume 10, Number 1 (1985)

Turning Life into Popular Art: Bodily Harm's Life-Tourist

  • Sharon R. Wilson
May 22, 2008


Throughout her work, Margaret Atwood uses literal and metaphoric camera images, including photographs, commercial and non-commercial art, movies, television programs, filmstrips, and mental pictures as symbols of seeing and being in the world. Her characters and personas often seem to view life through a celluloid film. Seeing themselves, the past, and other people as photograph trophies or the raw material for popular journalistic pieces on lifestyles, they fear the attack of camera-guns which turn them into products for consumption, and yet, paradoxically, they seek validation in being seen, trying to escape massive involvement by creating tourist-brochure realities. Bodily Harm, like the earlier work, presents a character who specializes in packaging experience for popular consumption. However, in the end, the camera images in this novel not only dramatize the fragmented self but also initiate the process of metamorphosis which seems to continue even beyond the frame of the book.