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The Handmaid's Tale
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The Handmaid's Tale Paperback - 1998

by Margaret Atwood

First published in 1985, this is a novel of such power that the reader is unable to forget its images and its forecast. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. "A novel that brilliantly illuminates some of the darker interconnections between politics and sex".--"The Washington Post Book World".


About this book

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel written by Margaret Atwood in 1985. It depicts a totalitarian world known as Gilead, portraying the subjection of women in a patriarchal society. The near-future New England setting illustrates a bleak portrayal of the world after the United States is overthrown by a fundamentalist group. Society is reorganized by the regime using a peculiar interpretation of some Old Testament ideas, and a new militarized, hierarchical model of social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes. The novel follows the story of a young woman, Offred, who struggles to maintain her identity. It depicts the rebellion of the women in her social class as their ability to read, write, own property, or handle money are lost. Most significantly, women are deprived of control over their own reproductive functions.

The Handmaid's Tale was nominated for the first-ever Man Booker International Prize representing the best writers in contemporary fiction.

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 35 internationally acclaimed works of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her numerous awards include the Governor General’s Award for The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Giller Prize and Italian Premio Mondello for Alias Grace. The Handmaid’s Tale, Cat’s Eye, Alias Grace, and Oryx and Crake were all shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, which she won with The Blind Assassin. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and has been awarded the Norwegian Order of Literary Merit and the French Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres among many others; she is a Foreign Honorary Member for Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in Toronto.

Summary

An instant classic and eerily prescient cultural phenomenon, from “the patron saint of feminist dystopian fiction” (The New York Times). Now an award-winning Hulu series starring Elizabeth Moss. In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. The result is the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime that enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women. Offred is one of these, a Handmaid bound to produce children for one of Gilead’s commanders. Deprived of her husband, her child, her freedom, and even her own name, Offred clings to her memories and her will to survive. At once a scathing satire, an ominous warning, and a tour de force of narrative suspense, The Handmaid’s Tale is a modern classic.

From the publisher

MARGARET ATWOOD is the author of more than twenty-five books, including fiction, poetry, and essays. Her most recent works include the bestselling novels Alias Grace and The Robber Bride and the collections Wilderness Tips and Good Bones and Simple Murders. She lives in Toronto.

From the jacket flap

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.

First Edition Identification

McClelland and Stewart published a 1st edition of The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, as a hardcover in Toronto, Canada. A true first printing includes "Set in the near future in a locale resembling Cambridge Massachusetts, this work describes life in what was once the United States - A Clockwork Orange, as seen by women" on the dust jacket.
In 1986 Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, published the first US edition of The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986.

Jonathan Cape published the first UK edition of The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986.

Details

  • Title The Handmaid's Tale
  • Author Margaret Atwood
  • Binding Paperback
  • Edition [ Edition: Repri
  • Pages 336
  • Volumes 1
  • Language ENG
  • Publisher Vintage, New York, NY
  • Date 1998-03-16
  • Features Table of Contents
  • ISBN 9780385490818 / 038549081X
  • Weight 0.55 lbs (0.25 kg)
  • Dimensions 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 in (20.07 x 12.95 x 2.03 cm)
  • Ages 14 to 18 years
  • Grade levels 9 - 13
  • Reading level 750
  • Themes
    • Catalog Heading: Language Arts/Literature
    • Curriculum Strand: Language Arts/Literature
  • Library of Congress subjects Fantasy fiction, Women
  • Library of Congress Catalog Number 97042966
  • Dewey Decimal Code FIC

Media reviews

"A novel that brilliantly illuminates some of the darker interconnections between politics and sex . . . Just as the world of Orwell's 1984 gripped our imaginations, so will the world of Atwood's handmaid!"
--Washington Post Book World

"The Handmaid's Tale deserves the highest praise"
--San Francisco Chronicle

"Atwood takes many trends which exist today and stretches them to their logical and chilling conclusions . . . An excellent novel about the directions our lives are taking . . . Read it while it's still allowed."
--Houston Chronicle

"Splendid."
--Newsweek

Citations

  • Booklist, 01/01/2001, Page 976
  • Entertainment Weekly, 06/27/2008, Page 98

About the author

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her novels include Cat's Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, and the MaddAddam trilogy. Her 1985 classic, The Handmaid's Tale, was followed in 2019 by a sequel, The Testaments, which was a global number one bestseller and won the Booker Prize. In 2020 she published Dearly, her first collection of poetry for a decade.

Atwood has won numerous awards including the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. In 2019 she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to literature. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

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The Handmaid's Tale
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The Handmaid's Tale

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Margaret Atwood's popular dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender, and religious politics. Multiple Golden Globe award-winner Claire Danes (Romeo and Juliet, The Hours) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time.
After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all-controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.
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The Handmaid's Tale : A Novel

The Handmaid's Tale : A Novel

by Margaret Atwood

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