View Single Post
Old 1st Jul 2008, 12:27   #16
is a Palimpsester Extraordinaire
BeccaK's Avatar
Join Date: 17 Apr 2007
Location: Fife
Posts: 1,098
Default Re: Book 54: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

Originally Posted by John Self View Post
..make it full-blown and full-blooded, rich of the history and causes of the situation and all its multifarious aspects. Atwood seemed to be inching her way along, only fixing something (not even the name of the country was revealed in the third I read) when she could vary and waver no longer; everything was in flux, where we might expect a totalitarian regime to be very very fixed.

...An alternative, and probably more valid, way of looking at it would be to say that it's more plausible for the author not to give us constant exposition about the background to how Gilead came to be, and just to let us work our way through it from the characters and the progression of the story.
Apologies for massacring your post, JS. I found this to be a real problem: Offred's narrative was not satisfactory. She retained too much knowledge and experience of the pre-Gilead society to be so unreflective and narrow in her portrayal of Gilead. I think that the timing of the novel is probably key to what Atwood was trying to achieve - a relevance and a connection with contemporary (70s?) society. But at the same time it denies the reader a kind of concreteness and richness that s/he can explore and believe.

There are far too many points at which Atwood says something like: 'They still allowed us to behave like this, because they hadn't yet evolved a perfect system'. Are these instances real examples of a system in flux, or are they simply excuses for plot points to further the narrative, or a rather incompletely realized vision on Atwood's part?
Reading: the Decameron - Boccaccio
2009 charlieledweaning
BeccaK is offline   Reply With Quote