Bear

Bear

A Novel

Book - 1976
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After five years buried like a mole amid the decaying maps and manuscripts of an historical institute, Lou is given a welcome field assignment: to catalogue a nineteenth-century library, improbably located in an octagonal house on a remote island in northern Ontario. Eager to reconstruct the estate's curious history, she is unprepared for her discovery that the island has one other inhabitant: a bear.
Lou's imagination is soon overtaken by the estate's historical occupants, whose fascination with bear lore becomes her own. Irresistibly, Lou is led along a path of emotional and sexual self-discovery, as she explores the limits of her own animal nature through her bizarre and healing relationship with the bear.
A daring and compelling novel, Marian Engel's Bear won the Governor General's Award for 1976.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, c1976.
ISBN: 9780771030802
0771030800
9780771093791
0771093799
Characteristics: 141 p. ;,22 cm.

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Peyton_ Dec 23, 2018

“Bear” is a controversial piece of Canadian literature. It is set on a remote island in Ontario where a woman is trying to find items of historical significance in a unique house. Her other task is to take care of the pet bear that resides in a cabin behind the house. Marian Engel takes this narr... Read More »


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PolyWogg
Jul 11, 2019

BOTTOM-LINE:
Bestiality is a strange theme for an award-winner
.
PLOT OR PREMISE:
A historical librarian gets a chance to catalog the books at a remote island home for a summer in Northern Ontario, and encounters locals, free time to figure out her life, and a pet bear.
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WHAT I LIKED:
This book was given to me back in my teens, a gift of quality literature as it had just won the Governor General's Award for fiction. I knew nothing about it as I started to read it. And I was relatively shocked to see "high literature" include bestiality and graphic descriptions of oral sex performed by the bear on the main character. The historical parts were awesome, as was the descriptions of the island and the passage of the summer.
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WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
I found the romanticization of the relationship with the bear a bit odd, as was the depersonalization of her other sexual partners during the summer. I also felt there were gaps in the ending -- we saw what she intended to do, not what she would do once she was back in Toronto.
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DISCLOSURE:
I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I was not personal friends with the author.

Peyton_ Dec 23, 2018

“Bear” is a controversial piece of Canadian literature. It is set on a remote island in Ontario where a woman is trying to find items of historical significance in a unique house. Her other task is to take care of the pet bear that resides in a cabin behind the house. Marian Engel takes this narrative and turns it into a discussion about feminism and women’s sexuality.
It intrigues me that during the sexual scenes Engel completely changes the language that she uses. Most of the novella is written simply, with a soft language that plays with characters’ emotions and struggles. During intimate moments between Lou and the bear Engel’s language becomes harsh, rough, and off-putting. Suddenly she uses more foul language and harsh, direct words. There is nothing beautiful about the words and its makes these moments even more garish, since they are already conflicting morals by having elements of bestiality. If Engels wanted to make these scenes intimate and pleasurable then a kinder, softer language should be used.
“Bear” was written in the early 1970s and is a discussion of feminism and women’s sexuality. The bear is supposed to be a reflection of Lou (maybe it represents her animalistic desires) and shows that a woman, Lou, does not need a man to make her happy. Lou remarks that she has sex with her boss because she feels a need to, but finds no intimacy with him. Lou also, after being neglected by the bear, has sex with Homer, the estate’s caretaker. This book is written during a time of female sexual revolution where women were fighting for their bodies and their right to have sex for pleasure, which became easier with the birth control pill. Although Lou never does have sex with the bear, she finds pleasure with him and love him more than any man, demonstrating that men are not key to women’s sexual satisfaction.
“Bear” was completely outside of my comfort zone for reading. I do not seek out erotica in fiction and prefer to read soft romance with glances and sighs rather than erotica with claws and orgasms. I am glad that I have read “Bear”; it has broadened my library of literature. I found it to be a good perspective into what women were battling for in the seventies and how women wrote about their sexual power and feelings. I think that was the key for me: to read “Bear” as a study of seventies feminist literature, rather than reading it for pleasure. I do recommend it as a study of women’s authorship during the sexual revolution and hope that others will read it as it is written and not as a book about a women who has sex with a bear (because she doesn’t).

m
mclarjh
May 20, 2018

A story about a decadent little city tart who has sex with a bear. Really!

i
imaryg
Aug 30, 2017

It is a really weird book about a relationship between a bear and human, a woman, fantasy obviously. Not sure what to think after reading it.
I suppose it plays to strange human fantasies or predilections.

n
noluckboston
May 01, 2016

Featured on the awful library books blog.
http://awfullibrarybooks.net/friday-fiction-bear-nsfw/

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