The Burgess Shale

“The outburst of cultural energy that took place in the 1960s was in part a product of the two decades that came before. It’s always difficult for young people to see their own time in perspective: when you’re in your teens, a decade earlier feels like ancient history and the present moment seems normal: what exists now is surely what has always existed.”

Margaret Atwood compares the Canadian literary landscape of the 1960s to the Burgess Shale, a geological formation that contains the fossils of many strange prehistoric life forms. The Burgess Shale is not entirely about writing itself, however: Atwood also provides some insight into the meagre writing infrastructure of that time, taking a lighthearted look at the early days of the institutions we take for granted today—from writers’ organizations, prizes, and grant programs to book tours and festivals.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Front cover 1
Title page 4
Copyright page 5
Foreword / Liminaire | Carrière 6
Introduction | Carrière 10
The Burgess Shale | Atwood 14
About the Author 58
CLC Kreisel Lecture Series 59