The interfaces between autobiography and painting in cat’s eye, by Margaret Atwood / As interfaces entre autobiografia e pintura a olho de gato, de Margaret Atwood

Natália Pacheco Silveira, Sandra Sirangelo Maggio


Margaret Atwood's Cat’s Eye (1988) features the fictional autobiography of Elaine Risley, influential Canadian artist. The painter, upon returning to her hometown, Toronto, for a retrospective exhibition of her work, critically rethinks her life and, in particular, her relationship with her three childhood best friends: Carol, Grace and Cordelia. Throughout the narrative, we follow Risley's artistic and personal development, who, through her first-person account and her paintings — placed for the reader through epigrammatic descriptions — exposes her trajectory as a woman, artist and mother in the 60s. Hite (1995) comments on the relationship between the facts narrated by Risley and her artistic production, explaining the common point between them: neither art nor personal experience can be separated from the dynamics of power, which constitute reality. Thus, in Cat's Eye, both the autobiographical account and Risley's paintings are relevant not only for the presentation of the events experienced by the protagonist, but also for their assimilation and problematization. Bearing in mind the connection between the two means — narrative and painting — this work aims to analyze the links between them in the novel. To this end, the connections between the chapters and Risley's paintings — who name them — will be explored, as well as the presentation and composition of works during the narrative and, when necessary, their relation with other paintings and referenced artists. As theoretical support, I employ authors who work on Cat's Eye’s relationship with art/painting, as well as the relationship between autobiography and art: Banerjee (1990), De Jong (1998), Hite (1995), Howarth (1974) and Vickroy (2005). The expected contributions are the discussion about the interfaces between narrative and painting, as well as their meanings inside and outside Cat’s Eye




Canadian Literature, Autobiography, Painting.

Full Text:



ATWOOD, Margaret. Cat’s Eye. 1ª ed. Londres: Virago Press, 2009. 512 p.

ATWOOD, Margaret. Second Words: Critical Essays. Toronto: A List, 2018. 448 p.

BANERJEE, Chinmoy. Atwood’s Time: Hiding Art in "Cat’s Eye". Modern Fiction Studies, Baltimore. v. 36, n. 4, p. 513-522. 1990. Available at: Access on 29 jun. 2021.

DE JONG, Nicole. Mirror images in Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye. Nora: Nordic Journal of Women's Studies. v. 6, n.2, p. 97-107. 1998. DOI 0.1080/08038749850167806. Available at: Access on 29 jun. 2021.

DVORÁK, Marta. Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye: or the trembling canvas. Études anglaises, v.54, n. 3, p. 299-309. 2001. DOI 10.3917/etan.543.0299. Available at: Access on 29 jun. 2021.

HITE, Molly. Optics and Autobiography in Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye. Twentieth Century Literature, Hempstead, v. 41, n. 2, p. 135-159. 1995. DOI 10.2307/441644. Available at: Access on 29 jun. 2021.

HOWARTH, William L. Some Principles of Autobiography. New Literary History, Baltimore, v. 5, n. 2, Changing Views of Character, p. 363-381. 1974. DOI 10.2307/468400. Available at: Access on 29 jun. 2021.

INGERSOLL, Earl G. Margaret Atwood’s “Cat’s Eye": Re-Viewing Women in a Postmodern World. Ariel, v. 22, n. 4. p. 17- 27. 1991. Available at: Access on 29 jun. 2021.

O'FLYNN, David. Art as Healing: Edward Adamson. JOUR. p.47-54. 2011. Available at: Access on 29 jun. 2021.

RABINOVITZ, Lauren. Issues of Feminist Aesthetics: Judy Chicago and Joyce Wieland. Woman's Art Journal, v. 1, n. 2, p. 38-41. 1980. DOI 10.2307/1358083. Available at: Access on 29 jun. 2021.

SYBESMA-IRONSIDE, Jetske. Through a Glass Darkly: William Kurelek's Picture Books. Canadian Children's Literature, v. 39/40, p. 8-20. 1985. Available at: Access on 29 jun. 2021.

VICKROY, Laurie. Seeking Symbolic Immortality: Visualizing Trauma in "Cat's Eye". Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal, Baltimore, v. 38, n. 2, p. 129-143. 2005. Available at: Access on 29 jun. 2021.



  • There are currently no refbacks.