Books·Canadian

Bear

Marian Engel's award-winning novel chronicles the erotic love affair between a librarian and a bear.

Marian Engel

Marian Engel's most famous — and most controversial — novel, Bear chronicles the erotic love affair between a librarian and a bear. The librarian, Lou, accepts a job cataloguing a 19th-century library in rural Ontario in a remote home on an isolated island. She is the sole inhabitant of the island, except for the titular bear. What follows is a challenging but compelling exploration of self-discovery.

Bear won the 1976 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

From the book

Yet, when the weather turned and the sun filtered into even her basement windows, when the sunbeams were laden with spring dust and the old tin ashtrays began to stink of a winter of nicotine and contemplation, the flaws in her plodding private world were made public, even to her, for although she loved old shabby things, things that had already been loved and suffered, objects with a past, when she saw that her arms were slug-pale and her fingerprints grained with old, old ink, that the detritus with which she bedizened her bulletin boards was curled and valueless, when she found that her eyes would no longer focus in the light, she was always ashamed, for the image of the Good Life long ago stamped on her soul was quite different from this, and she suffered in contrast.


From Bear by Marian Engel ©1976. Published by Random House Canada.

 

 

Interviews with Marian Engel

The author reads from her award-winning novel before discussing it with CBC Radio's Peter Gzowski. 32:20

 

 

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