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Old 14th Jul 2008, 6:57   #41
Russell
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Default Re: Book 54: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

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I think people would be keen to hear your thoughts...
Thanks, but I really need a reread to get them in order. Many have already appeared in the discussion, so I don't think much is missing.
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Old 14th Jul 2008, 12:40   #42
Hekaterine
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Default Re: Book 54: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

I thoroughly enjoyed THT but, like Russell, I think I need a re-read to get my thoughts more in order. I probably need to re-read this thread as well now but, in brief:

- I thought the book was believeable as a future dystopia, especially when you consider how quickly the regimes of Hitler and Stalin developed.

- I found parts of it uncomfortable to read, rather than hard to believe. It takes female experience to an extreme but I could see parallels to the way women are treated today.

- I disliked the part about the club where Offred finds Moira. It was the only section which failed to ring true with me.

- Finally, the end. I was prepared to find it unnecessary and tedious but, in some ways, following straight on from Offred's story, it made the whole thing more horrifying. To see a male professor making jokes about the harrowing experiences of the women, making jokes about the 'frailroad' and implying that it was a minor issue left me speechless. It was a very good representation of the way historians have been known to belittle women in our own history. It was also a good example of how the passing of time trivialises things which are devastating to those involved.
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Old 14th Jul 2008, 14:54   #43
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Default Re: Book 54: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

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- I disliked the part about the club where Offred finds Moira. It was the only section which failed to ring true with me.
While I didn't care for this section either, it did seem a logical outgrowth of a society of that nature. It almost reminded me of some of the club scenes in Cabaret.

Hah, what left me speechless was the scene where the Commander was supposed to be [hopefully for him] impregnate Offred. That is the scene that put me so off back when I initially read it in the late '80's. I was so outraged at the mental picture it presented it ruined the book for me [at the time]. The indignity that was inflicted on all participants was just too much.

Last edited by Paradox; 14th Jul 2008 at 16:26. Reason: additional thought
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Old 15th Jul 2008, 22:11   #44
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Default Re: Book 54: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

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The indignity that was inflicted on all participants was just too much.
Yes. If you combine that with Serena Joy's reminder to Offred - till death do us part, we managed to win that at least (paraphrased) it gives you an idea of what this regime was like for her as a wife as well as Offred as a Handmaid.

I think I would have felt better about the scene in the club if it had been some sort of 'underground' activity. It was hard for me to reconcile it being run by Aunts as well, in the light of the very religious context of the society.

Actually, with hindsight, that's perhaps not too unexpected. Hypocrisy above the surface as well as below?
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Old 15th Jul 2008, 23:04   #45
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Default Re: Book 54: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

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Actually, with hindsight, that's perhaps not too unexpected. Hypocrisy above the surface as well as below?
My thought exactly.
It was underground in a sense, certainly Offred knew nothing of it, it was unclear to me just who was aware of it and to what extent. I seriously doubt the Wives [or at least most of them] were aware of it.
Obviously the 'Official Underground' knew of it and the Commanders and their drivers and the Aunts....hmmm, so it seems the Wives were the only ones not to know. Hah. Rather typical. "the wife is the last to know" sort of mindset.

The women that populated the club were the rejects of "society" the unwomen, so were considered expendable.
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Old 20th Jul 2008, 10:16   #46
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Default Re: Book 54: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

I am so glad I took a break from Booker-2008-speculation and read this book. At first I wondered whether the coda was necessary and was a bit annoyed by it, especially when it explained the naming system:
Quote:
"Offred" gives no clue, since, like "Ofglen" and "Ofwarren," it was a patronymic, composed of the possessive preposition and the first name of the gentleman in question.
This seems condescending to me as the reader, but isn't it possible Atwood actually meant it to show condescension of the professor towards his audience? No, I don't think so either, but the rest of the book is so bloody good that I will forgive her that one.

The importance of the coda to me is that it shows that Gilead did not remain. It is history and Gilead existed for a relatively short period. The symposium is held in 2195. I think the Handmaid's tale is set in the present, i.e. 1984. There are indications in the coda that the era was finished by 2045. I deduce this by the discussion of the impossibility of the tapes being forgeries, which could not have occurred within the last 150 years. (I do not quite know if that reasoning is sound, but it feels right).

I agree with JS about the commas, but again, I'm forgiving her.

The most frightening thing to me was the false justifications used by those now in power. Rapes and murders were the plight of women before Gilead. The women should be happy with their lot now as they are safe (as long as they are submissive, which isn't stated). Our narrator knows better, but future generations will no doubt believe the picture painted for them. This is why I get frightened by 911 being presented as justification for how some people in the US think about countries and people other than their own. Yikes.

The book screams out the advice: Act as soon as you are uncomfortable and question what you are being told by those in power. The 80s were a particularly non-questioning time in the good ol' US of A if I remember correctly.
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Old 20th Jul 2008, 20:07   #47
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Default Re: Book 54: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

I don't know that the 'Historical Notes' struck me as condescending as much as they relegated the human misery of that historical time period to platitudes.
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...Professor Pieixoto's, I am sure, fascinating and worthwhile talk.
And in practically the next breath mentioning the fishing expedition going forward the next day, thus putting them on the same level of importance to the listeners.

I can almost see both the speaker's and audiences eyes glazing over at the thought of it.

Pompous, yes. Smug, yes. Insensitive, absolutely!
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Old 13th May 2009, 8:57   #48
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Default Re: Book 54: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

I felt a momentary shiver when I misread this headline:

Exclusion rule broken says Ofsted.
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