9.10.2007

The Handmaid's Tale



From time to time, my mind returns to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Have you ever read it? I can't even remember why I first did; it might have been on Maria's recommendation when we were both in college. I had never read more than a single poem of Atwood's at that time, so this was really my first encounter with her work.

Although the plot of the book is fascinating (and: right now: timely, prescient), what is actually hypnotic about it is the lyric way in which in the events of the narrative unfold. From the perspective of a woman whose name becomes "Offred," the hyper-religious military state of America is contrasted with fleeting memories of the time before, of an escape attempt gone wrong.

The chorus in the book: Nolite te bastardes carborundum. As I wrote to Peter on his Latin phrase post: it means, "Don't let the bastards grind you down." This, some now forgotten woman scrawled in a dark corner of Offred's room/cell.

The book became a movie, with the quality of a made-for-tv movie, although it does boast Adrian Quinn (hot), Faye Dunaway (cool), and Natasha Richardson (hot by lineage). The movie is not even close to capturing the book. It's hard for me to see cinema fail, or to think perhaps I could have done this better.

If you haven't read it, now is the time to read it.

3 comments:

  1. i asked a certain canadian friend of mine what was the "Mockingbird" of Canadian lit and this canadian friend replied and told me to read this book.

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  2. It's a classic novel. I'm a huge Atwood fan. Her new collection of poetry, The Door, is out later this month. Can't wait for that. She's brilliant.

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  3. This was the first novel I read by Atwood-- I couldn't put it down.

    In an interview, Atwood said she made it a rule for the writing of the book that she would not put anything in it that human societies have not already done.

    I watched the interview on youtube. I'm going to look up the vids and post in your honor.

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