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The Handmaid's Tale

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The Handmaid's Tale
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It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed.
It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed.
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Product Details
Sales Rank:
1,217
Pages:
336
Publication Date:
03/28/1998
Lexile:
750L
ISBN13:
9780385490818
Product Dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x0.90(d)
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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About the Author

Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the Flood; MaddAddam; and her most recent, The Heart Goes Last. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award, and lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson. 

www.margaretatwood.ca

Hometown:

Toronto, Ontario

Date of Birth:

November 18, 1939

Place of Birth:

Ottawa, Ontario

Education:

B.A., University of Toronto, 1961; M.A. Radcliffe, 1962; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1967
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Read an Excerpt

from the Introduction
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Handmaid's Tale (Movie Tie-in)"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Margaret Atwood.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People Are Saying
“A taut thriller, a psychological study, a play on words.…A rich and complex book.”
–New York Times

“Atwood has peered behind the curtain into some of the darkest, most secret, yet oddly erotic corners of the mind, and the result is a fascinating, wonderfully written, and disturbing cautionary tale.”
–Toronto Sun

“A novel that will both chill and caution readers and which may challenge everyday assumptions.…It is an imaginative accomplishment of a high order. . . . ”
–London Free Press

“Moving, vivid and terrifying. I only hope it is not prophetic.”
–Conor Cruise O’Brien

“A novel that brilliantly illuminates some of the darker interconnections of politics and sex.…Satisfying, disturbing and compelling.”
–Washington Post

“The most poetically satisfying and intense of all Atwood’s novels.”
–Maclean’s

“It deserves an honored place on the small shelf of cautionary tales that have entered modern folklore – a place next to, and by no means inferior to, Brave New World and 1984.”
–Publishers Weekly

“Deserves the highest praise.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

“In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood has written the most chilling cautionary novel of the century.”
–Phoenix Gazette

“Imaginative, even audacious, and conveys a chilling sense of fear and menace.”
–Globe and Mail

“Margaret Atwood’s novels tickle our deepest sexual and psychological fears. The Handmaid’s Tale is a sly and beautifully crafted story about the fate of an ordinary woman caught off guard by extraordinary events. . . . A compelling fable of our time.”
–Glamour

“This visionary novel, in which God and Government are joined, and America is run as a Puritanical Theocracy, can be read as a companion volume to Orwell’s 1984 –its verso, in fact. It gives you the same degree of chill, even as it suggests the varieties of tyrannical experience; it evokes the same kind of horror even as its mordant wit makes you smile.”
–E. L. Doctorow

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Reading Group Guide

1. The novel begins with three epigraphs. What are their functions?

2. In Gilead, women are categorized as wives, handmaids, Marthas, or Aunts, but Moira refuses to fit into a niche. Offred says she was like an elevator with open sides who made them dizzy; she was their fantasy. Trace Moira's role throughout the tale to determine what she symbolizes.

3. Aunt Lydia, Janine, and Offred's mother also represent more than themselves. What do each of their characters connote? What do the style and color of their clothes symbolize?

4. At one level, The Handmaid's Tale is about the writing process. Atwood cleverly weaves this sub-plot into a major focus with remarks by Offred such as "Context is all, " and "I've filled it out for her, " "I made that up, " and "I wish this story were different." Does Offred's habit of talking about the process of storytelling make it easier or more difficult for you to suspend disbelief?

5. A palimpsest is a medieval parchment that scribes attempted to scrape clean and use again, though they were unable to obliterate all traces of the original. How does the new republic of Gilead's social order often resemble a palimpsest?

6. The Commander in the novel says you can't cheat nature. How do characters find ways to follow their natural instincts?

7. Why is the Bible under lock and key in Gilead?

8. Babies are referred to as "a keeper, " "unbabies, " "shredders." What other real or fictional worlds do these terms suggest?

9. Atwood's title brings to mind titles from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Why might Atwood have wanted you tomake that connection?

10. What do you feel the "Historical Notes" at the book's end add to the reading of this novel? What does the book's last line mean to you?

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Editorial Reviews
In a startling departure from her previous novels (Lady Oracle, Surfacing), respected Canadian poet and novelist Atwood presents here a fable of the near future. In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right Schlafly/Falwell-type ideals have been carried to extremes in the monotheocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist's nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the ``morally fit'' Wives. The tale is told by Offred (read: ``of Fred''), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be. This powerful, memorable novel is highly recommended for most libraries. In this Orwellian dramatization, religion becomes a tool of repression and social control to force women into the roles of stay-at-home wives, domestic staff, prostitutes, or surrogate mothers. They have no rights to their bodies or property and are completely dependent upon men. Those women who have had at least one child find themselves forced into the role of breeding machine, producing children for childless couples. References to 20th-century issues abound, including Agent Orange, abortion, women's rights, and escape attempts to Canada. At least 14 different readers make it easy for the listener to distinguish among the various characters. Despite sound effects and some indistinguishable white noise, there are a few spots with dead air. This program will be of interest to Atwood fans and those interested in futuristic tales. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Laurie Selwyn, Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. . . .a taut thriller, a psychological study, a play on words. It has a sense of humor about itself, as well as an ambivalence toward even its worst villains.
—The New York Times"Brilliantly illuminates some of the darker interconnections between politics and sex." —The Washington Post 

"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." —Houston Chronicle

"Splendid." —Newsweek
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Customer Reviews (1365)
- Anonymous
March 23, 2012
- Anonymous
October 25, 2008
- Anonymous
April 10, 2010
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The Handmaid's Tale
Hardcover (7)
The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 04/25/2017
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 05/03/2017
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 10/17/2006
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 04/01/1998
Publisher: Turtleback Books
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The Handmaid's Tale (Graphic Novel): A Novel
Pub. Date: 03/26/2019
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 06/01/1988
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 01/28/1985
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
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Paperback (12)
The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 03/28/1998
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 04/18/2017
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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The Handmaids Tale
Pub. Date: 05/03/2017
Publisher: Gale Group
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 10/28/2010
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 08/27/1996
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 12/12/1986
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 07/05/2007
Publisher: Gardners Books
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 05/08/1999
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 05/28/1987
Publisher: Cengage Gale
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 11/28/2002
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 08/28/2011
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 08/28/1986
Publisher: Doubleday Canada Limited
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NOOK Book (2)
The Handmaid's Tale (Graphic Novel): A Novel
Pub. Date: 03/26/2019
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 02/17/1986
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Audiobook (4)
The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 10/28/2014
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 07/22/2014
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
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The Handmaid's Tale TV Tie-In Edition
Pub. Date: 11/01/2017
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
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The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 02/01/1902
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
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Other Format (1)
The Handmaid's Tale
Pub. Date: 10/28/2014
Publisher: Brilliance Audio Lib Edn
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