Much of Atwood’s most experimental and outspoken work appears in her short stories, which are also often the crucible for the later novels, a place to try out a character, event and theme, and then build on it. Indeed, much of the formal experimentation and the playfulness concerning human behaviour and literary form appear here. The stories map against the development of the novels, consistent themes of which are survival and the wilderness. In Atwood’s more overtly feminist phase she produced Dancing Girls (1977), True Stories (1981), Murder in the Dark (1983) and Bluebeard’s Egg (1983), collections of stories concerned with women’s identities, roles, relationships, constraints on and constructions of femininity, and the downsides of the norms of women’s expectations. What she latterly chose to call ‘flash fiction’, a term used for very short fictions, can be found in her most recent collection, The Tent (2006).
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