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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
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The Handmaid's Tale (original 1985; edition 1998)

by Margaret Atwood

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21,42147663 (4.12)1260
Member:CalvinBoesch
Title:The Handmaid's Tale
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Anchor (1998), Edition: 1st Anchor Books, Paperback, 311 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

1001 (104) 1001 books (104) 20th century (193) Atwood (111) Canada (159) Canadian (412) Canadian fiction (96) Canadian literature (312) classic (170) classics (102) dystopia (1,639) dystopian (291) fantasy (211) feminism (704) feminist (155) fiction (2,853) future (191) futuristic (131) gender (111) literature (232) novel (376) own (144) post-apocalyptic (114) read (423) religion (234) science fiction (1,326) sf (159) speculative fiction (191) to-read (327) women (460)
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 1260 mentions

English (458)  Spanish (4)  French (3)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (2)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (474)
Showing 1-5 of 458 (next | show all)
Read during Fall 2001

In an only so slightly future Cambridge, Massachusetts, the government has been taken over by Christian fundamentalists. Women are among the many enemies. The eeireness was highlited when I reazlied that most of it seemed to be taking place where I live and work in Cambridge. Written in 1985 but extremely topical now.
  amyem58 | Jul 11, 2014 |
I read this back when it first came out and it's even better this second time around. If anything, the almost 30 intervening years have made the book even more salient. Recent history make it even more frightening. ( )
  ScoutJ | Jul 9, 2014 |
This is my first anything (novel, poem, short story) by Margaret Atwood, and I am blown away. Dusty and I were reading this together, and we had set page limits per week--that is the only reason this book was read in 3 weeks, rather than 3 days. The story is that good.

I try to create spoiler-free reviews, but I'm just not sure I have that ability with this book.

Atwood's blend of time is one that I have not seen in a novel, maybe ever. The narrator switches from the 'present' (is it even the present though?) to memories of her old life, to memories of years before, to things that happened yesterday in a blend that would be very easy to make the novel confusing. Instead, I feel the exact opposite, every flashback makes me want to know more: how was this society created? What happened to her old life? What is truly the 'present'? (Keeping in mind that if the entire novel is a flashback, we can assume that the narrator has lived through the event.)

Perhaps what is most startling in this novel--in a world where women have no rights, for our own good, and are simply there for making babies--is how easily she describes the transition. This takes place in the US, or what used to be the US, or at least part of the US...but I get a sense that there is freedom in other parts of the world still.

This book is incredible. How did I make it through college and high school without reading this book? Counting back, it has been on my bookshelf 7 years, given to me by my 8th grade English teacher. I am ashamed at myself in it taking me 7 years to read this book. It is amazing.

Kudos to me: this review is spoiler free. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
This is my first anything (novel, poem, short story) by Margaret Atwood, and I am blown away. Dusty and I were reading this together, and we had set page limits per week--that is the only reason this book was read in 3 weeks, rather than 3 days. The story is that good.

I try to create spoiler-free reviews, but I'm just not sure I have that ability with this book.

Atwood's blend of time is one that I have not seen in a novel, maybe ever. The narrator switches from the 'present' (is it even the present though?) to memories of her old life, to memories of years before, to things that happened yesterday in a blend that would be very easy to make the novel confusing. Instead, I feel the exact opposite, every flashback makes me want to know more: how was this society created? What happened to her old life? What is truly the 'present'? (Keeping in mind that if the entire novel is a flashback, we can assume that the narrator has lived through the event.)

Perhaps what is most startling in this novel--in a world where women have no rights, for our own good, and are simply there for making babies--is how easily she describes the transition. This takes place in the US, or what used to be the US, or at least part of the US...but I get a sense that there is freedom in other parts of the world still.

This book is incredible. How did I make it through college and high school without reading this book? Counting back, it has been on my bookshelf 7 years, given to me by my 8th grade English teacher. I am ashamed at myself in it taking me 7 years to read this book. It is amazing.

Kudos to me: this review is spoiler free. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
The Handmaid's Tale is gripping, but also disturbing. It is yet another dystopian novel about the chilling effects of totalitarianism. Like many of these stories, it is difficult to imagine this happening in our society, but it has happened before. Told in first person, the story is non-linear and ranges back and forth from her present-day confinement as a breeding machine to her past life with her husband and daughter, before their world was turned upside down. Very thought-provoking! ( )
  darcy36 | Jul 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 458 (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 13 descriptions

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