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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
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The Handmaid's Tale (original 1985; edition 1986)

by Margaret Atwood

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22,09250359 (4.12)1356
Member:tiffin
Title:The Handmaid's Tale
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Seal Books, McLelland and Stewart Limited
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Modern Canadian Lit., Writing by Women

Work details

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

1980s (1)
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    sparemethecensor: The Handmaid's Tale is the classic forerunner to dystopic fiction of sexist futures. When She Woke picks up the mantel with a more modern version of a misogynistic theocracy taking over government. Both show terrifying futures for the state of women in society.… (more)
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» See also 1356 mentions

English (483)  Spanish (4)  French (3)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (2)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Norwegian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (500)
Showing 1-5 of 483 (next | show all)
For some reason, I never got around to this book until recently. It was shocked at how much I liked it, how prescient Atwood was regarding the Christian right. If I were a fearful conspiracy theorist, I could see something like this plot this happening in the not too distant future. ( )
  AntT | Jan 24, 2015 |
For some reason, I never got around to this book until recently. It was shocked at how much I liked it, how prescient Atwood was regarding the Christian right. If I were a fearful conspiracy theorist, I could see something like this plot this happening in the not too distant future. ( )
  AntT | Jan 24, 2015 |
Estive a ver um hangout sobre este livro e, grande parte do tempo em que ouvia uma das intervenientes a falar do livro, pensava: "Não, leste tudo ao contrário! Como é que é possível alguma mulher não gostar deste livro? Ultrapassado?! Nem pensar!" E de tanto pensar isto lembrei-me que ainda não tinha escrito sobre o mesmo. Acho que, por ter feito um SLNB sobre o livro, onde falei tanto sobre ele, me meteu de ressaca até agora. Contudo, ouvir alguém expressar uma opinião tão diferente da minha fez o meu sangue ferver e por isso aqui fica a minha opinião.
A Margaret Atwood revelou ser uma escritora excepcional, apresentando no "A História de uma Serva" a possibilidade arrepiante de, o mundo como o conhecemos mudar radicalmente amanhã, ser substituído por uma sociedade teocrática e despir as suas mulheres das suas identidades e direitos.
Offred é a personagem que nos guia através dos eventos. Vivemos toda a história presente e passada através dela. Ela é uma serva: como mulher fértil mas com um passado considerado "imoral", foi entregue a uma família com a finalidade de procriar e fornecer-lhes uma criança. Como é uma sociedade afectada por problemas ambientais, as crianças são o seu bem mais precioso, pois são poucas as que nascem sem problemas ou sobrevivem à gestação.
Este não é um livro para entreter ou ser agradável. Não nos dá uma conclusão moral no fim, não é essa a sua finalidade. Este é um livro para nos fazer pensar: Quem somos como sociedade, o papel do homem, da mulher, da família. O poder da religião nas nossas vidas. A falta de união entre as mulheres. Quem é realmente o sexo fraco?
Agora, enquanto ouvia a opinião de alguém que não gostou do livro dizer "Oh, isto seria impossível de acontecer nos dias de hoje" percebi o papel das "Tias" neste livro. Haverá sempre alguém que vai experienciar a realidade de outra forma, e agir de outra forma. Os nossos valores moldam-nos e temos tendência a lutar por aquilo que acreditamos. Se acreditarmos na ilusão que vivemos numa sociedade livre e segura, negamos a possibilidade de vir a perder a nossa liberdade e segurança. E não lutaremos por eles quando for necessário. Não devemos viver com medo mas é nosso dever vivermos alertas para o que nos rodeia. Este é um livro escrito em 1985 mas que ainda hoje é um verdadeiro alerta: há fragilidade nas nossas instituições, há desunião no nosso sexo (feminino), há imoralidade e há fanatismo religioso. Há a possibilidade de sermos Offreds. Basta olhar para o mundo como ele é hoje e rapidamente percebemos que o mundo está cheio delas. ( )
  tchetcha | Jan 15, 2015 |
How refreshing it is to have a cowardly protagonist. She would prefer to be brave, like her friend Moira and her mother but as much as any of us like to think that in the face of oppression, we would be out there protesting and fighting until we regain our rights, the novel paints a more realistic picture of how people would behave in a disorienting change of government and why and how such an oppressive regime can succeed, especially in a situation where only mostly women are oppressed. If this were to happen today and you were a woman, do you think your male counterparts would be standing up for you, protesting and overthrowing the oppressors? Or would they rather not get shot on the streets and go along with it - also perhaps even subconsciously enjoy the newfound power over another human being? The genders can of course be reversed for this hypothetical question.

The scariest part of this dystopia is that it is so new, it is scarier because the people still remember and what they remember is a world similar to ours. It brings an immediacy and fear to the events. The past constantly intrudes with its memories of better times and we can see when memories of the past start getting distorted, maybe this new thing is not so bad after all, we had freedom before but what did they really offer? We still have at least some freedom here, akin to Stockholm Syndrome. There is a sentence in the novel which expresses this sentiment perfectly about how adaptable humanity can be as long as there are compensations, however minor.

The novel does a great job in conveying the sense of power and powerlessness in the people and how in diminished circumstances, people can draw strength and power from the smallest of things. I had not fully realised just how disempowering it is to be deprived of words - I was after all reading about this - until the Scrabble reveal. Thanks to the author's deceptively simple prose, you could feel the the protagonist's exhilaration and ecstasy of being allowed to do such an innocuous yet empowering activity. How great is the protagonist's imposed name, by the way, Of-fred, Off-red, Off(e)red?

Recommended focus areas when reading: try not to worry about how real the takeover nor get frustrated by the protagonist's inactivity/passiveness, but do concentrate on the thought-provoking questions and think, realistically, how would you have reacted in her situation, remembering that you are alone, can trust no one and your previous life is obliterated. Do ignore the last section titled Historical Notes whose sudden change into a pompous male authority voice after a predominantly cast of female characters was especially jarring and a strange misstep. (half star off)

Edition Note: my Vintage edition has some misspellings which was off-putting when they occurred, specifically on page 154 bizzarre 188 siting and 196 sum us. ( )
  kitzyl | Jan 15, 2015 |
That. Was. Scary. But all that is happening in the Middle East ... well. ( )
  IsaboeOfLumatere | Jan 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 483 (next | show all)
As a cautionary tale, Atwood's novel lacks the direct, chilling plausibility of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World. It warns against too much: heedless sex, excessive morality, chemical and nuclear pollution. All of these may be worthwhile targets, but such a future seems more complicated than dramatic. But Offred's narrative is fascinating in a way that transcends tense and time: the record of an observant soul struggling against a harsh, mysterious world.
added by Shortride | editTime, Paul Gray (Feb 10, 1986)
 
How sad for postfeminists that one does not feel for Offred-June half as much as one did for Winston Smith, no hero either but at any rate imaginable. It seems harsh to say again of a poet's novel - so hard to put down, in part so striking - that it lacks imagination, but that, I fear, is the problem.
 
It's a bleak world that Margaret Atwood opens up for us in her new novel, ''The Handmaid's Tale'' - how bleak and even terrifying we will not fully realize until the story's final pages. But the sensibility through which we view this world is infinitely rich and abundant. And that's why Miss Atwood has succeeded with her anti-Utopian novel where most practitioners of this Orwellian genre have tended to fail.
 

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Battey, FrancesCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sibthorp, FletcherCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.

And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?

And she said, Behold my maid Bihah, go in unto her, and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her
-- Genesis 30:1-3
But as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal. . .
-- Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal
In the desert there is no sign that says, Thou shalt not eat stones.
-- Sufi proverb
Dedication
For Mary Webster and Perry Miller
First words
We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.
Quotations
As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it; but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come; and, try as we may, we cannot always decipher them precisely in the clearer light of our own day.
Time has not stood still. It has washed over me, washed me away, as if I’m nothing more than a woman of sand, left by a careless child too near the water.
The shell of the egg is smooth but also grained; small pebbles of calcium are defined by the sunlight, like craters on the moon. It's a barren landscape, yet perfect; it's the sort of desert the saints went into, so their minds would not be distracted by profusions. I think that this is what God must look like: an egg. The life of the moon may not be on the surface, but inside.
But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest. Maybe none of this is about control...Maybe it's about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.
There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia, freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The Reading Guide Edition is the substantial equivalent the main Handmaid's Tale work, with a few additional pages of questions for groups to consider at the back. Please therefore leave these works combined together. Thank you
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Wikipedia in English (6)

Book description
From the back of the book: Offred is a handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the commander and his wife once a day to walk to food market whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offredd and the other handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offredd can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke, when she played with and protected her daughter, when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…..
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038549081X, Paperback)

In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now....

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:40 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

A look at the near future presents the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, once the United States, an oppressive world where women are no longer allowed to read and are valued only as long as they are viable for reproduction.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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