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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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
33,33695849 (4.11)2026
This 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.
Member:Pumpkinson
Title:The Handmaid's Tale
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Kindle Edition, 325 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:to-read

Work details

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

  1. 727
    1984 by George Orwell (cflorente, norabelle414, Schwehnchen)
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    browner56: Two chilling, though extremely well written, reminders that liberty, freedom, and self-determination are not idle concepts.
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    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Schwehnchen, mcenroeucsb)
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    Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (krazy4katz)
    krazy4katz: An upside down recommendation, as this is an "all-women" utopia rather than a dystopia, but a fun read.
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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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English (916)  Spanish (10)  French (7)  Catalan (5)  Dutch (4)  Finnish (3)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (954)
Showing 1-5 of 916 (next | show all)
I have mixed feelings about this book. My curiosity to see what the talk is about. I haven’t seen any streaming versions as I hold strong to the belief that books are more influential than video versions. Although, in this case I have heard that some people enjoy the series more so than the book itself. With that said, here is my version of the events.

Stripped of their names and identities, Offred as she is known narrates the story in a stream of consciousness kind of way where some comments are memories and some appear to be dreams. She lives subconsciously to survive the new normal in which she finds herself. Sometimes, it seems that she no longer trusts her own judgment and those around her.

It’s no wonder there is so much suspicion and paranoia since it seems like the society was turned upside down overnight. An unspeakable war emerges where families are separated and classified according to their fertility and morality as deemed by the powers that be. Commanders who wield some power also seem to be under the influence of their Wife.

The routines and lifestyle are so dysfunctional and scary yet almost reminiscent of other times in history. Although, in history women weren’t forced to wear red and have sex for the sole purpose of reproduction, the distribution of power has always been controversial. Freedom has always been a focus on contention between the “haves” and the “have nots”.

The historical notes of the story present as a psychological case study from the past, as artifacts, studied and hypothesized. Like many traumatic events in the history of mankind, evidence to support the existence prevail. Just as the end of this story doesn’t really have an “ending” that one might expect.

I don’t usually really dystopian novels but when I do there is usually much controversy and discussion regarding the themes and intentions of the author. This book is no exception. Alas, there is a sequel written which perhaps may enlighten me further or not.
( )
  marquis784 | Sep 28, 2020 |
After the release of the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, I finally decided to read the first book to see what's the hype all about.
I understand now why people enjoy this book. It reflects a lot on how the society in our world is similar to Gilead. I like the way the author writes, albeit at first it was a little hard to get used to her writing style. After a few chapters though, I really found myself enjoying it!
I love the ending too with the historical note and how it shows that the future is not much better either...
After completing this, I'm definitely going to check out The Testaments and fingers crossed I will enjoy that too. This is a book I recommend for people that can sit through a pretty dark book with not much fast-paced plot going on. If you can, I think this will entice you well. ( )
  nikkiyrj | Sep 18, 2020 |
Finally read this as it seemed appropriate in light of recent events. This book is an essential read for everyone, I think, important both in terms of its treatment of women and religious fundamentalism. Atwood is a beautiful writer, and I found her style to be one I wish to emulate. I was terrified and disturbed as I read this. You don't have to be a super-feminist to appreciate the messages here.

I do have one question: why do feminist texts consider abortion to be the sticking point? The message would be so much more powerful without it. ( )
  askannakarenina | Sep 16, 2020 |
Offred lives in a twisted theocracy resulting from wars between factions of varying religious beliefs among other human differences. From the effects of the past ongoing wars, human fertility is rapidly declining and cannot be assured. Therefore, husbands and wives become desperate for families, and the Gilead faction ruling Offred’s life is desperate for offspring to maintain its power and presence in the world. Yet, they are not so bold as to openly condone sex outside marriage; that would be sinful. So, as humans have done throughout the centuries, they bury their sins in hypocracy and a new cast of women is created solely for the purpose of being fertilized by married men and bearing children for them to be raised by them and their wives as their own family...surrogacy carried to the level of sexual slavery; in many ways, the ultimate hypocracy.

Offred is a likeable, pitiable character. She has a backbone and would love to fight if only she knew how could see value in it. Fred, “the Commander”, and his wife are caught up in a society, that, it turns out, is partially of his making. Serena Joy, the Commander’s wife is aging, getting older by the day, and has no children. Her hopes, pinned on Offred, are being dashed, so she is forced to suggest a “sinful”, illegal and ultimately desperate solution, one that though dangerous, works to Offred’s benefit. But as she watches others die in social purging, her hopes of pregnancy dwindle, and one regular contact disappears, she melts deeper into despair and hopelessness until…

I guess you’ll have to read the book to find out. Those who love reading about dystopian societies and about women’s struggles will love The Handmaid’sTale. Many others have found it fascinating, captivating reading. I did. You will too. ( )
  CPolk625 | Sep 16, 2020 |
The feminist manifesto of dystopian fiction! Love ya Margaret Atwood. ( )
  Ellen_Andrews | Aug 31, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 916 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atwood, Margaretprimary 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
Moss, ElisabethNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennati, CamilloTranslatorsecondary 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 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
(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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Information from the Spanish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (4)

This 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.

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Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules.
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