Belfast Telegraph

Margaret Atwood: Greta Thunberg is Joan of Arc of the environment

The teenage French saint was burned at the stake.

Margaret Atwood has praised the teenage activist (Ian West/PA)
Margaret Atwood has praised the teenage activist (Ian West/PA)

By Craig Simpson, PA

Margaret Atwood has hailed Greta Thunberg as the environmentalist “Joan of Arc”.

The Canadian writer and two-time Booker Prize-winner has voiced her support for campaign group Extinction Rebellion.

Speaking to campaigners Atwood, who wrote The Handmaid’s Tale, praised “wonderful” teenage climate activist Thunberg, and welcomed the arrival of a youthful environmental movement.

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Climate activist Greta Thunberg has been compared to the French saint (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

She compared the 16-year-old Swede to the 15th century French saint who helped reclaim land from the English, before being burned at the stake.

Speaking on the Extinction Rebellion podcast, Atwood said: “She’s wonderful and she’s impervious to people slagging her off. She’s sort of the Joan of Arc of the environment.

“I think she needs a big white horse.”

The author of The Testaments added: “I’m very happy to see that this message is finally getting out there and penetrating, because it’s been a long time coming.”

Atwood spoke to Extinction Rebellion about the role of writers in the environmental struggle.

The author has long-held sympathies for climate activism, but has warned against Soviet-style, solely political artworks being created for the cause.

She said of climate change: “You can’t write a whole novel with that as the protagonist, but it has become the background or, indeed, the foreground.

“You cannot dictate to artists what they should do. They’re figuring it out.

“You can’t tell them what to do, or it will be agitprop all over again, and socialist realism. You can’t tell artists what to ‘art’.”

Atwood wore the badge of Extinction Rebellion during the 2019 Booker Prize ceremony in October, where she jointly won with Bernardine Evaristo.

PA

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