Single page featured in the Journals of Susanna Moodie.
A rare and original illustrated page from The Journals of Susanna Moodie, arguably Margaret Atwood’s finest work of poetry. In it, she adopts the voice of Susanna Strickland Moodie, an English woman who came to live in the rural area near Peterborough. Charles Pachter illustrated the poems, and in 1980, 120 copies were hand-printed in a boxed edition which is now in public and private collections around the world. Oeno Gallery has entire hand made, box sets available by request.
The Double Voice
took turns using my eyes:
One had manners,
painted in watercolours,
used hushed tones when speaking
of mountains or Naiagara Falls,
composed uplifting verse
and expended sentiment upon the poor.
The other voice
had other knowledge:
that men sweat
always and drink often,
that pigs are pigs
but must be eaten
anyway, that unborn babies
fester like wounds in the body,
that there is nothing to be done
One saw through my
bleared and fradually
bleaching eyes, red leaes,
the rituals of seasons and rivers.
The other found a dead dog
jubilant with maggots
half-buried among the sweet peas.
In 1852 Susanna Moodie published her journals in an effort to educate other English women about the hardships of establishing a life in Canada.
In 1962, these were reprinted as Roughing It In the Bush.
In 1970, Margaret Atwood published The Journals of Susanna Moodie – a book of poems based on the Moodie Book.
Charles Pachter had illustrated Atwood's previous books of poetry, and was moved to illustrate the Journals – a project he completed in 1980. Two master Italian printers worked with Pachter for the better part of a year to create the 120 completed boxed sets of the work. Each one contains 28 hand printed pages. This wasn’t just an illustration – it was an amplification of the original poems.
It has been republished in a small book format in 2014 by Cormorant Press.
Only 4 original copies remain – the others are in public collections or private hands.
This is truly the most magnificent book ever to be produced in Canada, a benchmark in the history of Canadian printing. It is immensely gratifying to find how Pachter's graphics so extend, expand and explore the inner meaning of Atwood's text.
-Beth Miller, Special collections Librarian, University of Western Ontario
Atwood speaks in a powerful modern voice. Pachter's uncompromisingly strong yet sensitive imagery hovers properly between his vision of what Atwood is saying and what the words say on the page. This book is a magnificent example of its kind, to be savored at once and in successive stages.
Cynthia Nadelman, Art News, New York
About Charles Pachter
Canadian, b. 1942, Toronto, Canada, based in Toronto, Canada