Literary Precedents for Alias Grace

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Because Atwood is painstakingly and relentlessly original, it is tempting to say that there are no literary precedents, that Alias Grace is unique. Nonetheless, Atwood is playing with certain conventional patterns, such as the Gothic romance; the novel focuses on the well-known concept of the split self; the plot is based on a true crime; and much of the narration is limited and suspect. Thus, Alias Grace shares similarities with several well-known works, the most famous and closely related being Goethe's Faust (mentioned earlier), Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), Henry James's The Turn of the Screw (1898), and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (1966).

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who published prodigiously, probably more than any other writer in history, is primarily known for one work, the enormously influential play Faust, which was based on a true story or perhaps several true stories mixed...

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This section contains 1,346 words
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Buy the Alias Grace Study Guide
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Alias Grace from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.