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The Handmaid's Tale (Contemporary…

The Handmaid's Tale (Contemporary Classics) (original 1985; edition 1996)

by Margaret Atwood

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24,80962444 (4.11)1557
Title:The Handmaid's Tale (Contemporary Classics)
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Vintage (1996), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 324 pages
Collections:Owned - Hard Copy, Read, Your library
Tags:1001 Books

Work details

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

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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 1557 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 602 (next | show all)
The best thing about this book was the final chapter "Historical Notes on 'The Handmaid's Tale'." I'm not a fan of dystopian literature but was interested in this because it was a required reading in the Social Justice class at Cottey and the fact that it is now so popular on book lists (the recent election as brought it to the forefront).

The story is set is the Republic of Gilead following some massive tragedy. The birth rate for the white upper class is so diminished that handmaidens are procured to be impregnated by Commanders who has a wife. The wife seems to participate in the sex act and well as the birth of a child if there is one. The entire story focuses on the status of women in this culture. They are either wives to the Commanders, Aunts (those empowered with enforcing strict rules), handmaids (those selected for pregnancy), or they are the econowives (wives of the poor). Women either play the role of caregiver and domestic, sex object, or trophy wife.

Some of the story was a bit hard to follow (probably because I wasn't all that engaged in the characters), but the final chapter which is designed as a lecture of the Gilead period. Set in the far future, it reads as a archaeological study.

If one is into dystopian literature, this is a good read. Maybe it reflects some of the feelings toward women today. ( )
  maryreinert | Feb 16, 2017 |
Creepy feminist dystopian story. In addition to horrible plot twists, the language stabbed at you every so often with just the right word or phrase to chill your blood. Some of Atwood’s images will be very hard to erase from my memory. The “historical notes” that Atwood appends at the end were unnecessary and, I think, detracted from the emotional impact of the story. I recommend that you don’t read them. ( )
  drardavis | Feb 3, 2017 |
The Handmaid's Tale was a truly unique piece of work, analyzing the suppression of the feminine half of the species. While the male-dominated society was a true focus of the work, religious censoring was also included in the message. However the end was certainly less than appealing to me. I know it was supposed to end on a cliff hanger - to leave the ending open to interpretation and imagination - but I was left completely unsatisfied. An amazing book overall, with an extraordinary lesson and warning of the past returning to claim the future. ( )
  sasta | Feb 1, 2017 |
Our first ever Margaret Atwood novel had our heads spinning in all directions … from uncomfortable and creepy to clever and interesting with a certain respectful awe in what the author has been able to create.
No one was exactly comfortable with this book’s theme, but then, we were never really meant to be, were we? The fact that every shocking event Atwood has included has happened somewhere in the world at some time, demands a certain amount of reverent appreciation. Her subject matter is deeply thought out and portrayed in a highly believable environment where human frailty is a constant escort.
Regardless of our unease, and the fact that speculative fiction is not necessarily a favoured genre, it was noted that the writing was of a high quality with an extremely prophetic concept, considering its time of publishing, the ‘80s.
Most of us found it challenging in many ways … as women (with a feminist slant), as readers and as human beings. The facts of the story are purposely left open to interpretation, which went a long way towards creating a most stimulating discussion and it was very interesting to hear everyone’s take on a variety of topics. Politics, religion, history and last but not least, what makes a brilliant novel. If you like to challenge yourself and are not adverse to speculation, give this one a go. Like us, you’ll be glad you did.
1 vote jody12 | Jan 27, 2017 |
Such a great book about women's rights and position in society, and still so timely. It's extreme and terrifying, but also plausible. There are bits that seem a little dated, but it's kind of depressing how much of it isn't. It's good to reflect on how quickly the freedoms we currently take for granted can be removed, and how quickly a new 'normal' can be constructed. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Jan 22, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 602 (next | show all)
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.
Ithink, 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. :D
I am amazed with this book, very useful
Atwood is also the inventor, and developer, of the LongPen and associated technologies that facilitate the remote robotic writing of documents.She is the Co-Founder and a Director of Syngrafii Inc. (formerly Unotchit Inc.), a company that she started in 2004 to develop, produce and distribute the LongPen technology.She holds various patents related to the LongPen technologies.

While she is best known for her work as a novelist, she has also published fifteen books of poetry.Many of her poems have been inspired by myths and fairy tales, which have been interests of hers from an early age.Atwood has published short stories in Tamarack Review, Alphabet, Harper's, CBC Anthology, Ms., Saturday Night, and many other magazines. She has also published four collections of stories and three collections of unclassifiable short prose works.
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.

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atwood, Margaretprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, AnnaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, ElenaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Battey, FrancesCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danes, ClaireNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, ValerieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennati, CamilloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sibthorp, FletcherCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
For Mary Webster and Perry Miller
First words
We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.
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 withhold 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
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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 (4)

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:22 -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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