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The Handmaid's Tale (Everyman's…

The Handmaid's Tale (Everyman's Library) (original 1985; edition 2006)

by Margaret Atwood

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28,75380053 (4.11)1787
Title:The Handmaid's Tale (Everyman's Library)
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Everyman's Library (2006), Hardcover, 392 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Author) (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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What I find most compelling about this book is a main character that is neither hero nor anti-hero. Offred is merely a person thrown into a horrifying world who reacts in a most human manner. Her actions are not the the things we dream of daring or the things we fear to do. Rather, they are the almost inconceivably mundane responses that the mind latches onto in a desperate attempt to cling to sanity when circumstances take us to the edge of our tolerance. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Oct 19, 2018 |

I was trepidatious re-reading this book. I read it so very long ago, have also watched the 1990s movie, and just started the TV series, which seems to have become a phenom. Maybe my recollection of its original power would be overwhelmed by the current state of the world (or the US, at least) and colored by my current views.

To some degree, that was true. I didn't feel its power quite so strongly - I remember being completely bowled over by Atwood's strange new world that took everything away from women, including everything they'd fought for. I was young and impressionable then, and probably had nightmares that this world was right on my doorstep. I don't feel that way any longer - despite current affairs - and recognize this more as an allegory and a warning, albeit with real world input (ie, other countries' treatment of women).

I was also surprised by some casual racism in the book. It seemed to me that Atwood was indicating that her Marthas were black, even as she dismissed black women entirely early on in the book (moved to resettlement colonies). It was something that continued to unsettle me until I could put my finger on it. The book now seems to fit the cliche of "white feminist dystopian tale", but it's also way easier for me to see that now than when I read it the first time. I am more educated now - in the press, in social media, and in reading books - and that wasn't quite as prevalent a notion (sadly) when Atwood was writing it.

Regardless, it was still a compelling read, and one that I would recommend to anyone, without hesitation. ( )
  khage | Oct 16, 2018 |
Offred is a Handmaid in a dystopian society where women are not allowed to read or hold jobs. Men have a wife, martha's that act like nanny's and maids, and handmaids who have their children and then relocate. Offred remembers the time before life was like this, she had a husband and a daughter, a job and her own banking. The plot goes back and forth between her old life and her new life as a handmaid, she explains how this new society took control and came to be and also how not everyone is a true believer of the new way. I loved this book, it's well written, fast paced and really makes you think. It's also realistic, this could actually happen and that makes it so much more terrifying. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Oct 4, 2018 |
Summary: Offred lives in a dystopic world in which the society she knew fell apart and was replaced by a militaristic, uber-religious, man-controlled culture. She has been taken as a “handmaid” – a new form of the Biblical consort with whom married men of wealth can have children if their own wives can not conceive. (That is, of course, the men believe that the problem of conception is with the woman and not with the man.) When people around her begin to act in ways that the new culture will not abide, she must make a choice of whom to trust.

My Thoughts: This is my first Atwood book, and I’m very impressed. Yes, ok, it’s not for people who dislike books that make you uncomfortable. But if you’re in the right mood, this was thoughtful feminist writing full of symbolism. Atwood is a real pro at subtley-but-somehow-harshly making a point. I know, it sounds like making such a point is impossible, but somehow Atwood managed. I am eager to read more of her books. ( )
1 vote The_Hibernator | Oct 2, 2018 |
Terrifying, relevant, and re-readable.

An ending can make or break a novel, and this one did not disappoint. It was surprising and satisfying while remaining open-ended, something that is not easy to pull off.
I happily add this gem to my favourites. ( )
  lhofer | Sep 26, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atwood, MargaretAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, AnnaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, ElenaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boyd, FlorenceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danes, ClaireNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
David, JoannaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover 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.
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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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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 8 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 20 descriptions

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