Critical Overview

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 191

Cat's Eye was received with enthusiasm by reviewers, many of whom considered it to be Atwood's finest work to date. Alice McDermott, in the New York Times Book Review, praised the novel's "precise and devastating detail, the sense of the ordinary transformed into nightmare," and also commented that "It is a novel of images, nightmarish, evocative, heartbreaking and mundane ... Atwood's most emotionally engaging fiction thus far."

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Stefan Kanfer, in Time, commented on Atwood's understanding that the humiliations of childhood have deeper effects than anything that happens in adulthood: "The cruelties done to the narrator become sources of a melancholia that affects the rest of her days....Risley's emotional life is effectively over at puberty."

Like a number of reviewers, Hermoine Lee in New Republic noted the parallels between Cat's Eye and Atwood's own life, referring to the novel as "fictive autobiography." Lee found the most gripping part of the novel to be the sections where young Risley suffers at the hands of her friends: "Atwood's account of this torture is horrifyingly brilliant, and will strike home to anyone who was ever involved in childhood gang warfare, whether as bullier or bullied."

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Critical Context

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