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

by Margaret Atwood

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21,271None63 (4.12)1221
Member:JonnySaunders
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
Rating:****
Tags:1001 Books

Work details

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

Recently added byChrisNorbury, Burch, mhmr, smitha_1988, ktmz, Gatucci, rlangston, private library, bnbazuin, alyssar87
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» See also 1221 mentions

English (440)  Spanish (4)  French (3)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (2)  German (1)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (455)
Showing 1-5 of 440 (next | show all)
The story is of and by a woman. A woman who has had her freedom stolen and replaced with sanctioned sexual servitude. Set in the future, in what was the state of Maine, society has fractured. Religious zealots have taken over and dictated that the recent trend of infertility and deformed births will be rectified by creating the position of 'the Handmaiden'. These rare gems, fertile women, are billeted to powerful men whose wives want a baby. They have ceremonial sex and await impregnation before being moved elsewhere for the same routine. The wider society is heavily stratified and restricted to the point of armed defense and walls. 'The colonies' are where you are sent if you break the rules, and there you die from over work, under nourishment or radiation poisoning. We get all this information drip-fed to us through the life of our hero, the handmaiden. Seeing as she is old enough to remember freedom, she reminisces throughout the story. In this way we are able to get a full picture of life.

It is clever, and the information cleverly dispersed. It raises so many issues about personal freedom, government and conflicting ideologies. I am so glad this book finally got to the top of my tbr pile. I hope it gets to the top of yours soon too. ( )
1 vote Ireadthereforeiam | Apr 15, 2014 |
I enjoyed this glimpse into an imagined dystopian future created by Margaret Atwood. As a feminist and a HUMAN BEING, I was disturbed by the similarities between the culture in the the book and our own in real life -- and the direction in which we could go. However, Handmaid's Tale was written in the eighties, and we seem to be slowly progressing.

The book didn't end how I hoped it would, and I was a little disappointed, much more so because the finish seemed rushed compared to the rest of the story than because my prediction was wrong.

Overall, an important read by a gifted author. ( )
  dysmonia | Apr 15, 2014 |
The Handmaid's Tale is about a futuristic world of Gilead where the handmaids are the only fertile ones left and they wear red. They are covered similarly to what nuns wear and how much of their body is covered. I find it interesting that this is done as to help men resist their temptation as if condemning the women and blaming them for being too sexy and/or attractive. I also found it interesting the amount of parallels to slavery in this book. For example, the handmaids are told that they only exist as bodies for procreation and/or vessels for reproduction. This is how the slave women were treated. The handmaids are turned into the inferior race and the book makes this appear as if slavery is happening again. The illiterate handmaids no longer have control of their bodies and are therefore the new generation of the slave women from the 18th and 19th centuries. This is an extraordinary read that everyone should read when one gets the chance!
  Krys_01 | Apr 9, 2014 |
"In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?"

This book originally published in 1985, is so sharp it will grip your imagination. ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
"In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?"

This book originally published in 1985, is so sharp it will grip your imagination. ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 440 (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 (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary 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 12 descriptions

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