The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Boston : Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1986. Book club edition. Hardcover. 311 pages ; 23 cm. Previous ownership sticker label on the flyleaf. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.
The Handmaid's Tale is not only a radical and brilliant departure for Margaret Atwood, it is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men of its population.
The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment's calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid's Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.
Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She has lived in many other cities, including Boston, Vancouver, Montreal, and London, and has traveled extensively. The Handmaid's Tale was begun in West Berlin and was finished in Alabama.
Author of more than twenty books, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, Atwood is perhaps best known for her five novels, The Edible Woman, Surfacing, Lady Oracle, Life Before Man, and Bodily Harm, and for her two collecüons of short fiction, Dancing Girls and Bluebeard's Egg. Her work has been published in more than twenty countries.
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