Charlotte Reads Classics

Slowly, slowly, she sipped a sentence.

Tag: The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

If you didn’t know, The Blind Assassin is an engineered feat of writing: The story is narrated by Iris Chase, who informs us her sister Laura committed suicide ten days after the end of the second world war. Iris is now an old lady with heart problems, and wants to write a kind of confession of their lives to her estranged granddaughter. She remembers past events, not always chronologically, but skips between these memories and what is happening in the present. In addition to this, there is the novel written by Laura Chase (called The Blind Assassin) and newspaper articles spread through the narrative.

I’m not particularly into the kind of science fiction the story within the story within the story (the one actually featuring a blind assassin!) falls into, but as the novel continued I did begin to enjoy the relationship between the man and woman, especially as it begins to parallel the sisters’ lives more and more. I loved Iris as an old lady – she has some particularly excellent crazy elderly lines, but it was the hindsight and melancholic nostalgia that really won me over. And the tales of high society reminded me very much of the Ford Madox Ford novel I read recently.

Atwood manipulates this story perfectly – there really is no other book with such beautiful and touching depths.

The Blind Assassin Quotes

“I became conscious of my heart, and of dizziness. Also of breathlessness, as if I were in over my head. But over my head in what? Not water; something thicker. Time: old cold time, old sorrow, settling down in layers like silt in a pond.”

“Beginnings are sudden, but also insidious. They creep up on you sideways, they keep to the shadows, they lurk unrecognised. Then, later, they spring.”

“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.”